Dec 18 2017

Seven airlines stop services to Istanbul

Five European and two North American airlines have stopped flying to Istanbul over the last year, economics-focused daily Dünya said, with the airlines blaming reduced demand.

Air France, Iberia, Swissair, Alitalia, Austrian, Air Canada and Delta had just been competed out of the marketplace by Turkish-origin airlines, Mehmet Nane, the CEO of Turkish low-cost airline Pegasus, told Dünya.

“A fall in demand to Istanbul (with other carriers) is a success for Turkish carriers. They have no chance of competing with us any more,” Nane said.

Official figures show there was a dip in the numbers of international travellers using both of Istanbul’s airports in 2016, following more than a decade of sustained growth. It was not clear whether there had been a particularly marked drop in passenger numbers from the markets of the airlines concerned.

Teoman Tosun, the general manager of Turkish airline Onur Air, said that much of the competitive advantage enjoyed by local carriers had been in getting priority for landing slots at Istanbul’s crowded airports.

“Say that Turkish Airlines had four flights, they wanted four flights. When it didn’t happen, they lost market share. This market share was left to Turkish Airlines and other local firms like us,” he said.

However, the limited number of slots would be solved by the opening of Istanbul’s third airport in September 2018, Tosun said.

“The slot problem will be solved when the 3rd airport opens,” he said. “When there is no problem, we think these companies will come (back).”