New Istanbul airport benefits budget airline over Turkish Airlines - Bloomberg

Flying primarily from Istanbul’s new airport has created a disadvantage for Turkish Airlines, which has been outperformed by budget airline Pegasus by more than 95 percentage points this year, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Istanbul Airport, which pro-government media has hailed as another success in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long list of infrastructure mega-projects, has been widely criticised by others for the quality of its construction and location. The national carrier moved to the new $11-billion hub in April.

Last month, a series of flights have been diverted to nearby Çorlu due to bad weather conditions, while a plane also hit a transmission pole during taxiing. 

“That’s been a boon for Pegasus, as passengers looking to avoid any inconvenience are now choosing Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Istanbul’s second outlet on the Asian side of the city, where the company operates the bulk of its flights,” Bloomberg said.

In the first five months of the year, passenger traffic at Sabiha Gökçen rose 2 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, while the number of international passengers surged by 19 percent, Bloomberg said citing data from the Turkish airport authority. Meanwhile, traffic at the now closed Atatürk airport and the Istanbul Airport dropped by 4 percent over the same period, with international passengers rising a mere 0.3 percent, it said. 

“In May, offshore investors sold more Turkish Airlines shares than any other security on the benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index, according to the latest data from the exchange. Meanwhile, inflows into Pegasus over the same period increased by $14 million,” Bloomberg said. 

Turkish Airlines’ rental costs rose by nearly 500 percent in the first quarter of 2019, to $25 million from $4.2 million a year earlier, largely due to moving its headquarters to Istanbul’s giant new airport, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Monday.