Turkish Airlines serves more countries than any other airline, with over 120 this year. The airline benefits from a big use of narrowbodies on routes of up to nearly eight hours, the large population and tourism draw of Turkey, and its natural hub location in Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines serves more countries than any other airline in the world. This year, some 121 nations make up its passenger route map from its main Istanbul Airport hub, analyzing OAG data shows. In comparison, Air France serves 90 from Paris CDG, while Qatar Airways has 78 from Doha.
Turkey is home to around 82 million people and the country saw 51 million tourists in 2019. And Istanbul, which has one of the world’s largest metro populations, had 15 million tourists in 2019. As you’d expect, the city is significant in itself for point-to-point demand, something that not all hubs can really say.
But it’s much more than just size and popularity. It’s also natural advantage. Istanbul is well located to take advantage of many important passenger markets, including the likes of Europe and North America to Turkey, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; North America to Eastern and Southeastern Europe; Africa to Asia; and North Asia to Brazil. Some 40% of Turkish Airlines’ passengers connecting over Istanbul in 2019.
The power of narrowbodies
Despite using widebodies to 83 airports this summer, Turkish Airlines also uses narrowbodies to a large degree. It has around 140 of them, Airfleets indicates, with A321neos becoming more commonplace and the airline resuming use of the MAX.
Like any other airline, big narrowbody use means that it can do two things: serve existing cities and airports more frequently – so building competitiveness and dominance – while launching brand-new services, particularly to smaller cities, including the likes of Ashgabat, Batumi, Djibouti, Mogadishu, Ouagadougou, Samarkand, and Zaporizhzhia. This helps to increase connectivity.
Up to seven-and-a-half hours
Turkish Airlines usually uses its narrowbodies within five hours of Istanbul, but this increases up to around seven-and-a-half hours, especially with its B737-900s. This covers all of Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and a very decent chunk of Africa, helping to add smaller countries.
This year, Turkish Airlines’ passenger operation sees 121 countries from Istanbul Airport:
- 39 across Europe and the Caucasus (plus Turkey itself)
- 37 in Africa
- 25 in Asia-Pacific
- 11 in the Middle East
- Nine in the Americas
Some 285 airports are served. Showing the breadth of its network, this includes 41 airports in Central and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, 25 in the Middle East, and eight in Central Asia.
Russia is still included here, a country where it serves 10 destinations, although it was confirmed today (April 15th) that it has suspended virtually all flights to the country until June. The only exception is Moscow Vnukovo. This is normally served 35-weekly from Istanbul but is currently limited to twice-weekly until June.
When measured by total seats, the Turkish Airlines’ top-10 countries from Istanbul Airport are:
- United Kingdom
- Italy (rising to second if flights are considered instead)
- Saudi Arabia
It serves 12 destinations in Germany, a country with up to around three million Turks, especially in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Düsseldorf and Cologne are located. Combined with point-to-point and connecting demand, including the ever-popular Antalya resort area, it’s no surprise that the airline has nearly 120,000 peak-summer seats each week between Istanbul Airport and Germany.
The USA ranks second and Canada 39th. Some 13 destinations will be served, including Vancouver, which starts on May 2nd. It’ll operate three-weekly basis using Boeing 787s. Funnily enough, Qatar Airways serves 13 North American destinations from Doha.