Turkish Airlines will begin its long-awaited services to Australia in March, in a move expected to put downward pressure on airfares ahead of the European summer. The carrier will initially operate flights from Istanbul to Melbourne, with a stopover in Singapore, three times a week from March 16.
Turkish Airlines is one of the largest carriers in the world and it has long said it wanted to fly to Australia, but it only applied for the necessary bilateral air rights towards the end of last year.
The application was approved by the federal government last month after it was embroiled in another bilateral air rights scandal which centred around the government’s rejection of Qatar Airways’ attempt to double its flights to Australia.
Turkish Airlines has flagged it intends to fly direct from Melbourne to Istanbul as soon as its fleet can accommodate such distances. The airline placed an order in November for more than 220 Airbus aircraft including 15 A350s, which could fly direct between Istanbul and Australia’s east coast.
Victoria’s Minister for Jobs Natalie Hutchins said that if Turkish Airlines was able to fly daily between Istanbul and Melbourne it would add 109,500 seats on planes arriving in Melbourne every year and contribute more than $132 million a year to the state’s economy.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, Jim Parashos, said the services will connect Australia to one of the most important airports in the world – Istanbul Airport.
“Istanbul is the only city to straddle two continents and has always been an important trading post. It is also now one of the most important transit hubs in the world,” Parashos said.
The decision to reject Qatar Airways resulted in a Senate inquiry and allegations of Qantas wielding undue influence over the Albanese government.
Qantas, which partners with Emirates, was the only airline known to have objected to Qatar’s request for extra flights, which would have reduced airfares on European routes and generated hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in tourism revenue.
Australia’s bilateral air service agreement with the United Arab Emirates stipulates that Emirates and Etihad may collectively operate 168 weekly services to Australia’s four biggest airports. They are collectively operating 70.
Etihad is carrying 60 per cent fewer passengers to the UAE from Australia than it did before 2019, while Emirates is carrying about 15 per cent fewer passengers. Emirates trails only Qantas in carrying the largest number of passengers out of Australia.
Although three services a week to one of Australia’s key airports may not seem like a lot, Turkish Airlines has been approved to fly up to 35 services a week to Australia’s key airports from 2025, which will add significant capacity to Europe.
Source: Thanks smh.com