Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines
Türk Hava Yolları A.O.
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 20 May 1933 (1933-05-20)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Miles&Smiles
Airport lounge July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge[2]
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 335
Destinations 292[4]
Company slogan Widen Your World
Headquarters Istanbul Atatürk Airport,
Yeşilköy, Bakırköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Key people
Revenue Increase US$ 10.522 billion (2015)[6]
Operating income Increase US$ 2.042 billion (2015)[6]
Net income Increase US$ 1.069 billion (2015)[6]
Total assets Increase US$ 16.383 billion (2015)[6]
Total equity Increase US$ 4.842 billion (2015)[6]
Employees 27,676 (2015)[7]
Website www.turkishairlines.com

Turkish Airlines (Turkish: Türk Hava Yolları) (BİST: THYAO) is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, headquartered at the Turkish Airlines General Management Building on the grounds of Atatürk Airport in Yeşilköy, Bakırköy, Istanbul.[8][9] As of July 2015, it operates scheduled services to 290 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, making it the fourth-largest carrier in the world by number of destinations, as of 2014.[10] It serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in Europe.[11] Turkish Airlines flies to 115 countries, more than any other airline.[12][13] With an operational fleet of ten cargo aircraft, the airline's cargo division serves 52 destinations.[14] Istanbul Atatürk Airport is its main base, and there are secondary hubs at Esenboğa International Airport, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and Adnan Menderes Airport. Turkish Airlines has been a member of the Star Alliance network since 1 April 2008.[15]


Early years

Turkish Airlines was established on 20 May 1933 as State Airlines Administration (Turkish: Devlet Hava Yolları) as a department of the Ministry of National Defence.[16] The initial fleet consisted of two five-seat Curtiss Kingbirds, two four-seat Junkers F.13s and one ten-seat Tupolev ANT-9.[16] In 1935, the airline was turned over to the Ministry of Public Works and was subsequently renamed General Directorate of State Airlines. Three years later, in 1938, it became part of the Ministry of Transportation.[17]

Postwar period

THY Fokker F27 Friendship landing at Athens (Hellenikon) Airport in 1973

Several Douglas DC-3s and Douglas C-47s were phased in during 1945.[18] Being initially set up as a domestic carrier, the airline commenced international services with the inauguration of AnkaraIstanbulAthens flights in 1947; the DC-3s and the C-47s enabled the carrier to expand its network.[16]

Nicosia, Beirut and Cairo were soon added to the airline's international flight destinations. However, domestic services remained the Turkish carrier's main focus until the early 1960s.[19]

THY Douglas DC-10 in 1974 wearing the airline's initial colour scheme

In 1956, the Turkish government reorganized the airline under the name Türk Hava Yollari A.O. (often abbreviated as THY).[16] It was capitalized at TRL 60 million. The airline joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shortly thereafter. In 1957, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) began supplying technical support after acquiring a 6.5 percent shareholding, which it held for about 20 years.[19]

New aircraft including Vickers Viscounts, Fokker F27s and Douglas DC-3s were added to the fleet in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Turkish Airlines began operating their first jet, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9, in 1967. This was followed by the addition of three Boeing 707 jets in 1971. Other aircraft operated in the early 1970s included the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Fokker F28 which were put into service in 1972 and 1973 respectively.[16][19]

1980s and 1990s

A Boeing 707 operated by Turkish Airlines at Heathrow Airport in 1984.

The airline was plagued by several difficult issues. It developed a reputation for poor customer service and delays. It also endured hijackings and suffered seven accidents between 1974 and 1983. The most notorious was the 1974 crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 when an improperly secured cargo door broke off near Ermenonville, France, resulting in the deaths of 346 people.

A new government came to power in 1983 which recognized THY's importance as Turkey's ambassador to the world, beginning the airline's makeover into a modern operation. It would maintain one of the youngest fleets in the world. Security was intensified, causing one shipper to compare it to Israel's El Al, at least in terms of delays.[19]

THY built a new, state-of-the-art technical center at Yeşilköy Airport in 1984. The airline was capable of both light and heavy maintenance on a number of different aircraft types. Technical staff then made up one-quarter of the airline's 6,000 employees, according to Air Transport World. In 1984, the company's capital was raised to TRL 60 billion as it was classified as a state economic enterprise. Three years later, the capital was raised again, to TL150 billion.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 in Zürich Airport in 1995.

By the mid-1980s, THY had a fleet of 30 aircraft. It was flying about three million passengers a year to 16 domestic destinations and three dozen international ones. The airline was Turkey's largest source of foreign currency. Turkish Airlines began operating Airbus A310s in 1985, allowing the addition of flights to Singapore in 1986. A route to New York City via Brussels was added in 1988.

The company posted losses in 1987 and 1988, largely due to high payments on its dozen new Airbus A310s, according to Air Transport World. The fleet also included 11 Boeing 727s and nine Douglas DC-9s. THY ended the decade with 8,500 employees.[19]

The company suffered in the global aviation crisis following the Persian Gulf War and would not break even again until 1994. However, business was again booming in the mid-1990s, with the greatest growth coming from North American destinations. THY launched a nonstop flight to New York City in July 1994.

The company's capital continued to be raised, reaching TRL 10 trillion in 1995. During that year, the airline also converted three of their Boeing 727s to dedicated freighters. The DC-9s had been sold off. The company posted a $6 million profit on revenues of $1 billion for the year. While profitable, THY had to contend with Turkey's exorbitant inflation, making capital improvements difficult.

The domestic market was deregulated in 1996, allowing new scheduled competition from charter airlines. At the same time, larger international carriers were providing stiff competition on routes to Western Europe. THY entered into marketing agreements with other international airlines to enhance their competitiveness. The company teamed with Japan Airlines to offer service to Osaka and Tokyo in 1997 and 1998. Other jointly operated flights soon followed with Austrian Airlines, Swissair, and Croatia Airlines.[19]

2000s and 2010s

A Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER with the badge and squad of FC Barcelona in 2012; the airline was the official sponsor and carrier of the club between 2010 and 2013.[20]
A Turkish Airlines Airbus A321-200 in Turkish Airlines Euroleague livery. The airline is the primary sponsor of the top European basketball league since 2010.

A new terminal opened for the airline in January 2000 at Istanbul's Istanbul Atatürk Airport. Turkish Airlines continued to extend their international reach, forging marketing agreements with Asiana Airlines, American Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Czech Airlines and Cathay Pacific in 2000. An Antalya-Frankfurt route was added in 2001 through a code-sharing agreement with Sun Express. However, THY withdrew from the Swissair-led Qualiflyer alliance in order to help attract a strategic investor for their privatization.[19]

Turkey underwent an economic crisis throughout most of 2001, cutting traffic on domestic routes in particular. THY managed to survive after the September 11 attacks on the United States without a government bailout or mass layoffs, although 300 middle management positions were eliminated, 400 part-timers were laid off and wages were cut 10 percent. Turkish Daily News credited the airline's survival to entrepreneurial management, which was quick to get rid of loss-making routes at home and abroad.

In 2003, the war in Iraq prompted Turkish Airlines to close some routes in the Persian Gulf, while flights to Asia were suspended during the SARS epidemic. However, the airline soon recovered, increasing traffic on existing routes and adding service to Delhi after an 11-year lapse.

Another fleet expansion program kicked off in 2004, helping THY maintain one of the youngest fleets in Europe. In July, the airline announced a massive $2.8 billion order of 36 jets from Airbus, plus an order for 15 Boeing 737s.

THY was not just ordering new planes. It was planning to spend $350 million on a new technical and training facility at Istanbul's underutilized Sabiha Gökçen International Airport. The airline had built up a significant technical services operation, maintaining not just their own aircraft but those of third parties. Turkish Technic employed 2,700 and was planning to hire another 2,000 by 2010. THY also had three flight simulators and offered flight training services.

THY faced the entry of new competitors into the liberalizing Turkish aviation market. However, tourism was booming, with 20 million people expected to visit the country in 2005 versus 12 million in 2003. THY divested its 50% holding in Cyprus Turkish Airlines (Kibris Turk Hava Yollari) in 2005.

Although the company was publicly traded at this time, the government owned 98% of its shares. The privatization program was revived in 2004 with a public offering of 20% of shares on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. The Turkish government owned 75% of shares after the offering, which raised $170 million. Currently, the Republic of Turkey's Prime Ministry Privatization Administration owns a 49.12% interest in THY, while 50.88% of shares are publicly traded.[21]

On 1 April 2008, Turkish Airlines joined the Star Alliance after an 18-month integration process beginning in December 2006, becoming the seventh European airline in the 20-member alliance.[22]

In April 2010, TURKISH replaced TURKAIR as the new call sign for Turkish Airlines.

In December 2011, the Turkish government unveiled plans to modernize the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, which became one of the newest flight destinations of the carrier in 2012. The rehabilitation project is part of Turkey's broader engagement in the local post-conflict reconstruction process. Among the scheduled renovations are new airport systems and infrastructure, including a modern control tower to monitor the airspace.[23] In March 2012, Turkish Airlines became the first international carrier to resume flights to Somalia since the start of that country's civil war in the early 1990s.

By the end of 2013, Turkish Airlines increased their number of flight points to 241 destinations worldwide (199 international and 42 domestic).[24]

Development after the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt

In the wake of the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, the Federal Aviation Authority banned flights between Turkey and the United States. This posed a particular problem for Turkish Airlines as a key component of the airline's strategy was to deliver one-stop journeys between the USA and hard-to-reach destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and India.[25] This ban was lifted on July 18, and Turkish Airlines resumed flights to the U.S. on July 19.[26]

In August 2016, Turkish Airlines announced a profit collapse to a loss of 198 million Euros for the second quarter of 2016 while expecting an overall loss of 10 million passengers for 2016.[27] The airline already announced significant reductions in operations for the upcoming 2016/2017 schedule period with frequency cuts to 45 European and 13 intercontinental routes.[28][29] Turkish Airlines also announced an overall record loss of 1.9 billion Turkish Liras ($644.4 million) for the first half of 2016.[30]

Corporate affairs

Turkish Airlines corporate headquarters

Key people

As of October 2016, Bilal Ekşi holds the President and CEO positions,[31] former President and CEO Temel Kotil has resigned.[32]

Business trends

The key trends for Turkish Airlines for the past 13 years are shown below (as on 24 March 2016):[33][34][35]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Turnover (m) 2,846 2,593 2,956 3,812 4,860 6,123 7,036 8,423 11,813 14,909 18,777 24,158 28,752
Net profit (m) 243 107 138 179 265 1,134 559 286 19 1,133 683 1,819 2,993
Number of passengers carried (m) 10.4 12.0 14.1 16.9 19.6 22.6 25.1 29.1 32.6 39.0 48.3 54.7 61.2
Passenger load factor (%) 67 70 72 69 73 74 71 74 73 77 79 79 78
Cargo carried (000s tonnes) 123 135 145 160 183 199 238 314 388 471 565 668 720
Number of aircraft (at year end) 65 73 83 103 102 127 134 153 179 200 233 261 299
Number of destinations (at year end) 103 102 107 134 138 142 156 171 189 217 243 264 284
Sources [36][37] [37][38] [37][39] [37][40] [41][42] [43][44] [45][46] [47][48] [49][50] [49][50]

[3] [6][51]

[52] [53][54][55]

Affinity programmes

Miles&Smiles is the frequent-flyer programme of Turkish Airlines, inaugurated in 2000 after the airline left Qualiflyer.[56] Earned miles can be used on Turkish Airlines flights, as well as on flights operated by the entire Star Alliance network. Miles & Smiles Classic Plus card holders are entitled to the same benefits of Star Alliance Silver card members. Elite and Elite Plus Miles & Smiles cards entitle the owner to the same benefits as Star Alliance Gold users.[57]

Sponsorship and promotion agreements

Turkish Airlines also sponsors Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.[58]
Turkish Airlines plane, decorated with UEFA Euro 2016 emblems.

Turkish Airlines was chosen as the official carrier by several European football clubs such as FC Barcelona,[59] Borussia Dortmund,[60] Galatasaray,[61] Olympique de Marseille,[62] Aston Villa,[63] FK Sarajevo [64] Hannover 96,[65] and A.S. Roma.[66]

The airline has also made sponsorship and promotion deals with renowned athletes and actors, including:[67] Lionel Messi,[68] Kobe Bryant,[68] Caroline Wozniacki,[69] Kevin Costner,[70] Wayne Rooney[70] and Didier Drogba.[71]

Furthermore, the company is the primary sponsor of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague since 2010[72] and was among the sponsors of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.[73]

On 22 October 2013, Turkish Airlines and Euroleague signed an agreement to prolong their existing sponsorship deal by five years until 2020.[74]

In September 2014, Turkish Airlines became the main sponsor of the Japanese Bj-league.

Turkish Airlines is the sponsor of the Turkish Airlines Open, a European Tour golf tournament started to be played annually in Turkey from 2013 on.[75]

Turkish Airlines became the kit sponsor of Galatasaray for the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League and for FK Sarajevo.

On 10 December 2015, Turkish Airlines and UEFA signed a sponsorship deal for the UEFA Euro 2016, becoming the first airline sponsor of UEFA European Championship tournaments.[76][77]

On January 29, 2016, Turkish Airlines announced its partnership with Warner Bros to sponsor the film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In the movie, a pivotal scene unfolds aboard a 777 Turkish Airlines plane.[78]


As of September 2016, Turkish Airlines flies to 291 destinations in 115 countries.[79]

Codeshare agreements

Turkish Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:[80]


Airbus A330-300 with the new livery
Boeing 737-900ER with the new livery
Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

As of November 2016, the Turkish Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[81]

Turkish Airlines fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 14 12 114 126
Airbus A320-200 29 12 141 153
Airbus A321-200 66 2[82] 12 176 188 Deliveries 2015 2017[3]
Airbus A321neo 92[82] TBA Deliveries 2017 2020[3]
Airbus A330-200 20 20 228 250
Airbus A330-300 30 7[83] 28 261 289 Deliveries until 2017[84][85][86]
Airbus A340-300 4 34 236 270
Boeing 737-700 1 149 149
Boeing 737-800 110 12 153 165 Older aircraft to be replaced by Boeing 737 MAX 8
Boeing 737-900ER 15 16 135 151
Boeing 737 MAX 8 65[87][88] TBA Deliveries 2018 2021[3]
Boeing 737 MAX 9 10[87] TBA Deliveries 2019 2020[3]
Boeing 777-300ER 33 2 49 300 349 Deliveries until 2017[3][89]
28 372 400
Turkish Airlines cargo fleet
Airbus A310-300F 3
Airbus A330-200F 8 1
Airbus A300-600F 1
Boeing 747-400F 1
Total 335 179

In October 2016, due to a downturn in domestic air traffic, the airline announced it was delaying delivery of 39 Boeing and Airbus aircraft (exact details were not specified) from its outstanding commitments for 167 aircraft (92 Airbus A321neos, 65 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 10 Boeing 737 MAX 9s). It is set to receive just 10 of 32 aircraft due in 2018, but all outstanding orders are expected to be fulfilled by 2023.[90]


The airline's "Eurowhite" livery is a white fuselage with blue lettering, a grey tulip on the fuselage running from the rear of the wing to the tail, and a red tail with the company logo in a white circle.

In the past, the airplanes were painted white on the top with four red stripes going across the fuselage and the tail white with a red center that included the emblem; instead of a white emblem with a red circle for a background, the emblem was red with a white circle. The bellies of the planes had an aluminum finish, while the nose was black, and text on the plane read "THY Türk Hava Yolları-Turkish Airlines" on the left side; on the right the concept was the same with different text reading "Türk Hava Yolları-Turkish Airlines THY".


The logo on the fin was modified in May 2010: the emblem is now white and on a red background, while it was previously red and on a white background.

Furthermore, the inscription "Turkish" has been replaced by "Turkish Airlines" on the front-left and front-right sides of the fuselage.

The "Eurowhite" livery (a white fuselage with blue lettering) and a grey tulip figure on the fuselage (running from the rear of the wing to the tail) have remained the same.


Turkish Airlines won the Skytrax awards for Europe's Best Airline, Southern Europe's Best Airline, and the World's Best Premium Economy Class Airline Seat for three consecutive years in 2011, 2012 and 2013.[91][92] It retained its status as the top European airline in 2014 and 2015, thereby holding the title for five years in a row.[93][94][95] Additionally, Turkish Airlines was selected the Airline of the Year by Air Transport News at the 2013 Air Transport News Awards Ceremony.[96]

Turkish Airlines Flight Academy

Turkish Airlines Flight Academy was established by the 28th THY Board on 10 November 2004, and started training with 16 cadets on 1 May 2006. The Flight Academy is based at Istanbul Atatürk Airport and uses the nearby Çorlu Airport for training activities.[97][98]

The fleet of the flight academy consists of the following 14 aircraft:

Turkish Airlines Maintenance Center

Turkish Airlines runs a maintenance center in its hub at Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The maintenance centre, called Turkish Technic, is responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of THY's and third party aircraft, including airframe, landing gear, APU and other subsystems.[99]

Turkish Technic has opened an engine centre in partnership with Pratt & Whitney at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) called TEC (Turkish Engine Center) in January 2010. The facility provides engine maintenance, repair and overhaul services to customers worldwide.[100] The latest project dubbed as HABOM (Turkish: Havacılık Bakım Onarım ve Modifikasyon Merkezi, Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center) is set to become the main complex and is also located at SAW.[101]

Incidents and accidents

In its history, Turkish Airlines has suffered a total of 18 incidents and accidents of which 14 were fatal. The most remarkable occurred in 1974, when Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crashed shortly after takeoff from Orly Airport, France, claiming the lives of all 346 people on board. To date, it is the second-deadliest single-aircraft accident in the world.

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