Turkish Airlines is set to commence its eagerly awaited services to Australia in March, a development poised to exert downward pressure on airfares leading up to the European summer. Commencing from March 16, the airline will initiate three weekly flights from Istanbul to Melbourne, incorporating a stopover in Singapore.

As one of the world’s largest carriers, Turkish Airlines has long expressed its desire to extend its services to Australia, formalizing the request for necessary bilateral air rights only towards the end of the previous year. The application gained approval from the federal government last month, following a bilateral air rights controversy involving the rejection of Qatar Airways’ bid to increase its flights to Australia.

Turkish Airlines has outlined its intention to introduce direct flights from Melbourne to Istanbul as soon as its fleet capabilities allow for such extended distances. The airline’s recent order of over 220 Airbus aircraft, including 15 A350s capable of direct flights between Istanbul and Australia’s east coast, underscores its commitment to this endeavor.

Natalie Hutchins, Victoria’s Minister for Jobs, remarked that if Turkish Airlines were to operate daily flights between Istanbul and Melbourne, it would result in an addition of 109,500 seats annually and contribute over $132 million annually to the state’s economy.

CEO Turkish airlines Bilal Eksi

CEO Turkish airlines Bilal Eksi

Jim Parashos, Melbourne Airport’s Chief of Aviation, emphasized that the new services would connect Australia to Istanbul Airport, a pivotal global hub situated in a city uniquely spanning two continents and historically significant as a vital trading post.

The Senate inquiry and allegations surrounding the rejection of Qatar Airways’ request for additional flights, attributed to potential influence by Qantas, have heightened attention on bilateral air service agreements. Qantas, in partnership with Emirates, emerged as the sole airline opposing Qatar’s expansion plans, which had the potential to decrease airfares on European routes and generate substantial tourism revenue.

Australia’s bilateral air service agreement with the United Arab Emirates currently allows Emirates and Etihad to collectively operate 168 weekly services to Australia’s four major airports, but they are presently operating only 70. This situation, coupled with Turkish Airlines’ approval for up to 35 weekly services to Australia’s major airports from 2025, signals a significant increase in capacity for European connections.

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