Turkish Airlines domestic passenger numbers fall most since crisis

Turkish Airlines carried 5 percent fewer passengers in February, the biggest decline since a currency crisis struck last year, according to data provided by the company.

Passenger numbers fell to 2.26 million from 2.38 million in February 2018, Turkish Airlines said on its website on Tuesday. The amount of domestic passengers has now fallen on an annual basis for four consecutive months.

Turkish Airlines is seeing a decline in customers using domestic flights due to an economic recession that has hit consumer spending power and caused businesses to cut costs. Long distance bus companies are also seeing a fall in clients. Some bus firms have gone bankrupt, while others have halted key intercity services or cut them back.

Domestic passengers carried by Turkish Airlines fell by an annual 2.9 percent in November, 4.5 percent in December and by 3.6 percent in January, according to historical data.

Turkish Airlines is making up for the decline in its domestic business by increasing the number of people it carries on international flights. Passengers on such flights rose 6.3 percent in February from the same month a year earlier to 2.91 million, the company said.

A currency crisis in Turkey last year has made holidays to the country less expensive, helping to bolster the business of airline companies and tourism operators. The lira lost almost a third of its value against the dollar in 2018. Turkish Airlines is also using its hub in Istanbul to increase routes and carry more international transit passengers.

Turkish Airlines saw profit from its main operations decline by an annual 36.4 percent to $42 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Profit for the year as a whole rose 16.5 percent to $1.19 billion, according to financial statements.

The company said on Tuesday that it would move its global headquarters to the new Istanbul Airport from Istanbul Ataturk Airport on April 6.