Turkish Airlines hopes to win more flight frequencies in the nation
Published: Jul 04, 2019 05:08 PM
Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, hopes to win more flight frequencies in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, in a bid to increase its market share in China, a senior executive from the carrier said recently. 

"We have applied to the Chinese regulator for more flight frequencies in the cities above. We keep a close relationship with the department, and we hope we can get the approval," Tuncay Eminoglu, vice president of sales in Asia and the Far East for Turkish Airlines, said in an interview on June 28, the 20th anniversary of the carrier's entrance into China.

The first flight connecting Beijing and Istanbul occurred in 1999, followed by the Shanghai route in 2009. Thus far, the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in the Chinese mainland are connected to Istanbul. 

"The Chinese market has very big potential, and the market is very important to us," Eminoglu said, adding China is the largest market share in the region he is responsible for.

To woo more Chinese travelers, the carrier employs Chinese-speaking crew members, and has also launched a Chinese menu for the routes departing from the Chinese mainland.  

Currently, Turkish Airlines is conducting code share flights with Air China, and the company stated that further cooperation is to be announced. 

Besides Turkish Airlines, there are also other carriers flying to Turkey. 

China Southern Airlines, a Guangzhou-based carrier, resumed flights from Beijing to Istanbul from December of last year. It flies with an A330 jumbo plane three times per week.

The carrier opened the Beijing-Urumqi-Istanbul flight in 2011, but it halted operations in 2016 due to safety concerns.

In May this year, China Southern also launched a route from Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, to Istanbul. 

The latest news is that Sichuan Airlines began a route from Chengdu to Istanbul in April this year. 

"This is a good sign," Eminoglu said during the interview, "The increasing routes show a rising demand in the two countries."

In 2018 as the "Year of Turkey," about 400,000 Chinese tourists traveled to Turkey, up by 59 percent from the previous year, according to statistics provided by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

"We have transported most of the travelers, and we hope the number of tourists going from China to Turkey will reach one million someday," he said. 

In the first quarter of this year, growth was 2.5 percent on the same period last year, he added.

Turkey is an important market for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with plenty of tourism resources, and Chinese carriers have the opportunity to open more routes to the country which will contribute to China and Turkey's tourism boom, Qi Qi, an independent market watcher told the Global Times earlier.

In March of last year, Turkish Airlines confirmed a sizable order of 60 wide-body Boeing and Airbus jumbo jets. 

The airline will begin to receive its first six planes this year, followed by 14 in 2020, and the rest are expected to arrive before 2024. 

The goal of Turkey's national carrier is to transport 120 million passengers and own a fleet of 500 aircraft by 2023, according to a note sent by Turkish Airlines earlier. 

In April this year, the Istanbul New Airport was put into use, and it is expected to receive 200 million passengers every year after its completion.

The carrier said in February that the Far East showed load factor growth of 1.4 points in January.