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Turkish Airlines to fly to MEL from Dec; eyeing other Aussie cities

Australians, prepare for a new direct service to Europe … courtesy of Turkish Airlines. 

Australians, prepare for a new direct service to Europe … courtesy of Turkish Airlines. 

The Istanbul-based carrier is gearing up to commence flights to Melbourne later this year, as Turkish Airlines aims to extend its reach to a sixth continent. While the service will be direct, it won’t be non-stop, with a layover in Singapore on the cards. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the recent International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines chair Ahmet Bolat said, “At the beginning, it [will not be] such an excellent service – only three times weekly and with a stop in Singapore”, Aviation Week reported. 

Bolat added that “Melbourne seems to offer … more advantages regarding [the] local Turkish population – the catchment area is big, and not so many airlines are flying there”. 

Utilising its Boeing 787-9 aircraft, the three-times-weekly service will kick off in December 2023. 

While TK will stopover in Singapore, Bolat said the carrier would not exercise its fifth freedom right to pick up or drop off passengers in either direction “because there are so many flights from Singapore to Australia, there is no need”. 

He said the national carrier would be “looking very much to attract tourists on our route.” 

Final decision tbc

A Melbourne Airport spokesperson told Karryon MEL “continues to work closely with Turkish Airlines to bring to fruition the airlines’ ambition to commence services to Australia”.

“Melbourne’s growing population and large Turkish community coupled with the airport’s 24/7 operations and integrated terminal present a compelling case,” they said.

“Although talks are progressing, a final decision is yet to be made.”

Parked Turkish Airlines jets in Istanbul.
Parked Turkish Airlines jets in Istanbul.

More than MEL

Eventually, Turkish wants to operate a daily Istanbul-Melbourne service, said Bolat, but daily nonstop flights to Sydney, which TK also wants to do, are possibly five years away. 

Moreover, the chair said Turkish Airlines is also eyeing flights to Brisbane and Perth. 

“Even now, I can fly to Perth with [our] current aircraft, but during [certain periods] of time, depending on the season and strong headwinds, it is not possible to operate [the route] nonstop.” 

This suggests nonstop Aussie flights will only happen if the delivery of the carrier’s order of new generation, ultra-long-haul aircraft comes through. 

Another challenge the carrier faces is the current Australian traffic agreement that allows TK to only operate a maximum of four weekly flights down under.