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Turkish Airlines announces start date, route for Aussie flights; recruits Margot Robbie as ambassador

After stalling on its Australian launch, Turkish Airlines appears to have settled on a start date for its first-ever Aussie flights.

After stalling on its Australian launch, Turkish Airlines appears to have settled on a start date for its first-ever Aussie flights.

The airline had originally planned to commence operations down under in December 2023, all but confirming the move in June

Turkish Airlines even held a glitzy gala event at Crown Melbourne to build excitement around the service, attended by Turkish Airlines chairman Ahmet Bolat. In September, the Istanbul-based carrier formally submitted its application to fly to Australia. 

However, in a strong indication it has locked in services to Australia, Bolat recently announced launch dates for its inaugural Australian flights. 

Turkish Airlines Gala Event_Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat (Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines)
Turkish Airlines’ Ahmet Bolat in Melbourne.

“We will commence flights to Australia between March 15 and 25, 2024,” he said. 

According to Turkish media, the airline boss also outlined some details of the route, though didn’t specify where the first service would actually touch down in Australia. 

“The Australia flight will involve a layover, a 10-hour stopover in Singapore, and then a further seven-hour journey to Australia,” he remarked.

Its original target for its launch route, Melbourne Airport told Karryon the flights were not yet confirmed.

To help launch its flights down under, Turkish Airlines is recruiting Australian actor Margot Robbie as its brand ambassador. 

The star of 2023’s highest-grossing film Barbie, Robbie would be the face of advertising campaigns for the carrier. 

Bolat said a deal with Robbie would play a pivotal role in promoting the historic new service.

Touristic sightseeing ships in Golden Horn bay of Istanbul and mosque with Sultanahmet district against blue sky and clouds. Turkish Airlines
Golden Horn Bay, Istanbul.

“We are currently in discussions with Australian actress Margot Robbie. We plan to bring her to Türkiye a week before the flight and explore various places, including the historic site of Göbeklitepe,” the chair stated.

In November, Bolat flagged Australia among 10 key markets the airline was targeting in a joint campaign with Turkey’s Ministry of Tourism. Among the countries were the United States, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan.

“We aim to bring 10 million tourists from those countries,” he said last month.

Bolat said he hoped 500,000 to 600,0000 tourists from Australia would travel to Turkey from Australia, which is home to a large number of Turkish immigrants.  

New order

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

Last week, Turkey’s national carrier announced a massive order for new jets including 150 Airbus A321s and 70 Airbus A350 widebody aircraft (50 A350-900s, 15 A350-1000s and 5 A350F freighters).

The airline also ordered 10 A350-900s in September and four A350-900s in July.

In total, the airline has 504 planes on order, 212 of which have already been delivered, according to Airbus. 

Bolat said the order was “more than an expansion”. 

“The addition of these advanced Airbus aircraft to our fleet will not only enhance our operational capabilities but also significantly contribute to our environmental goals,” he added. 

“This investment is a crucial milestone in the further evolution of Turkey’s aviation industry. 

“By modernising our fleet with more efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft, we are reinforcing our leading position in global aviation and contributing to the nation’s prominence as an aviation hub.”