By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines will add a total of 60 wide-body aircraft to its fleet in the next six years, the company said on Friday.
In a statement sent to Turkey's Public Disclosure Platform (KAP), Turkish Airlines said it has decided to purchase 50 firm and 10 optional wide-body aircraft, of which six to be delivered in 2019, 14 in 2020, 10 in 2021, 12 in 2022, 11 in 2023 and seven in 2024.
"A total of 30 B787-9 aircraft, of which 25 firm and 5 optional, will be purchased from Boeing and a total of 30 A350-900 aircraft, of which 25 firm and 5 optional will be purchased from Airbus," the airline said.
It recalled that a deal with Airbus was signed in January in Paris, during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's official visit to France. Also in September, Turkish Airlines announced a commitment with Boeing to purchase 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
Ilker Ayci, chairman of Turkish Airlines, said the purchase will bring a landmark benefit not only to Turkish Airlines, but also to Turkey's aviation.
"Goodwill agreements turned into firm orders; which we consider to be a very important initiative to meet our need for wide body aircraft at Istanbul's New Airport, which will serve as our new hub once its construction process completed," Ayci said.
The first phase of Istanbul's new airport is expected to be opened this year, according to Turkish officials. When it is fully completed, around 250 airlines are set to fly from the airport to more than 350 destinations -- making it one of the world’s largest air hubs -- with an annual capacity of 200 million passengers.
"This great step, which will further strengthen our ever-expanding fleet for 2023, our republic's 100th year, and bring our passenger's satisfaction to a much higher level will bring a great acceleration to the steady rise of our country's flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, and will also be a considerable added value for Turkish Civil Aviation," he noted.
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, March 9, the airline's market value was around 23 billion Turkish liras ($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.