Turkish Airlines Storms Ahead In Europe With 85% Recovery

Turkish Airlines’ recovery seems to be going well, at least compared with others. In the week of July 8th to 14th, it operated 1,254 flights a day, according to data from Eurocontrol. This means its flights were down by just 15% versus the same period in 2019. We examine the situation.

Turkish Airlines B777-300ER
Between July 8th-14th, Turkish Airlines’ passenger aircraft served 211 international destinations. The top-10 from its Istanbul Airport hub by total seats were: Moscow Vnukovo; Amsterdam; Paris CDG; Beirut; Frankfurt; Kyiv Boryspil; Tel Aviv; Düsseldorf; London Heathrow; and Baku. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The network carrier with the next smallest decline versus 2019 was KLM, down by 29%; it is Europe’s 10th largest airline this month. Standing out like a sore thumb is British Airways, whose flights were still very significantly reduced and one of the worst across Europe. The latest development would not have helped the carrier.

Turkish Airlines’ rebound is supported by a previous finding that flight traffic involving Turkey, Greece, and Spain have all grown by a significant amount in a short space of time. This coincides with the summer holiday period.

Turkish Airlines flights
Turkish Airlines is leading the pack of other network airlines. Image: Eurocontrol.

But, it is just one part of the picture

While Turkish Airlines’ number of operated flights is certainly impressive in itself, it is, of course, just one part of the overall picture. It says absolutely nothing of passengers, revenue, loads, or any other aspect of performance.

Indeed, a better (or fairer) way of working out the situation versus 2019 would be to look at revenue passenger miles. This is based on the number of fare-paying passengers multiplied by the distance flown. Unfortunately, this data is not yet available for the week in question.

Flights in Europe
While this data applies to all carriers, notice that domestic Turkey had 1% more flights on July 14th than on the same day in 2019. And notice how domestic Norway has all but recovered by this measure, despite short-term wobbles. Image: Eurocontrol.

The all-important domestic market

On July 14th, the number of domestic flights in Turkey exceeded that recorded in 2019, according to Eurocontrol flight information. The 986 movements (arrivals and departures combined) include flights by all operators: passenger airlines, cargo, bizjets, government, military, and more.

Turkish A330-300
What aircraft did Turkish Airlines most use domestically from Istanbul Airport on July 14th? The A321. However, 13 flights were by widebodies: the A330-200; A330-300 (as in the above photo); and B777-300ER. Photo: Marvin Mutz via Flickr.

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A look at Turkey’s domestic market

On this summer day, there were approximately 884 scheduled passenger flights across three operators: Turkish Airlines (including fully owned subsidiary AnadoluJet); Pegasus; and SunExpress. At nearly two-thirds (64%), Turkish (and AnadoluJet) had by far the most, based on OAG data.

Turkish Airlines' domestic network on July 14th 2021
This is the mainland domestic network of Turkish Airlines and subsidiary AnadoluJet on July 14th, 2021, from Istanbul Airport, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, and the capital, Ankara. Image: GCMap.

Turkish Airlines: 40 domestic destinations

Turkish Airlines itself had 40 domestic destinations from its main Istanbul Airport hub on July 14. The median number of departures per destination was two, but there were several standouts. There include Antalya (AYT; 14 departures that day), Izmir (ADB; 11), Bodrum (BJV; 11), Ankara (ESB; 11), and Trabzon (TZX; 10).

Will you be flying with the carrier this year? Let us know in the comments.