By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
Turkey's flag carrier has launched direct flights from Istanbul to Freetown, Sierra Leone, the airline announced Saturday.
This will be Turkish Airlines' 52nd destination in Africa, following Accra, Lagos, Bamako, Conakry, Dakar, Abidjan, Cotonou, Douala, Yaounde, N'Djamena, Ougadougou, Niamey, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
"Beginning today [Saturday], new direct flights to Freetown also bring the total countries and destinations that are reached by the flag carrier to 121, and 301, respectively," according to a statement.
The flights will operate twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays -- with introductory round trip costs starting at $830 all-inclusive.
"The services will be providing a link between Istanbul Ataturk International Airport and the Lungi International Airport via Ouagadougou," the statement added.
Turkish Airlines, which was established in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has more than 330 aircraft including passenger and cargo planes. It carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate in 2017.
As of Friday, Feb. 23, the airline's market value was 25.2 billion Turkish liras ($6.6 billion) -- 49.12 percent of the company's shares are held by the Turkiye Wealth Fund while 50.88 percent of its stocks are listed in Turkey's stock exchange market, Borsa Istanbul.
The airline was named Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016, and chosen the Best Airline in Southern Europe for the ninth consecutive time in 2017.
This week, Turkish Airlines was also ranked number one in the list of world's best full service airlines, by eDreams -- a prominent online travel agency operating in over 30 countries, offering passengers more than 150,000 flight routes from some 450 airlines.