Sydney and Melbourne Airports have both confirmed they are in talks with Turkish Airlines for flights to Istanbul.
The Turkish flag carrier is understood to be considering three services per week between Istanbul and Sydney or Melbourne via Singapore from late 2023 or early 2024 using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet, with a potential for more services depending on government approval, as reported in The Australian.
“Sydney Airport is working closely with Turkish Airlines and the NSW Government to bring this exciting new opportunity forward,” a spokesperson for Sydney Airport said.
“Turkish Airlines has an unparalleled network and its home base in Istanbul is a destination which continues to grow in popularity with Australian travellers, along with other destinations across Turkey.”
Melbourne Airport is also “working closely” with Turkish Airlines, according to a spokesperson.
“Melbourne’s growing population and large Turkish community combined with Melbourne Airport’s 24/7 operations and integrated terminal precinct present a compelling case. Talks are progressing, but a final decision is yet to be made,” the spokesperson said.
British Airways is currently the only European airline that flies into Australia, with Austrian Airlines having pulled out in 2007. BA flies daily between Sydney and London (Heathrow) via Singapore.
The news comes as both Sydney and Melbourne Airports continue their COVID-19 recovery. International traffic at Melbourne doubled year-on-year in May 2023, with last month seeing 3,784 international flights compared to 1,780 in May 2022 and carrying 744,868 passengers – 87.6 per cent of the 2019 figure and 103 per cent of the May 2022 figure.
In April, Sydney Airport welcomed Vietnamese low-cost carrier Vietjet as its fiftieth concurrent airline – breaking its pre-pandemic record of 48 airlines. At the time, CEO Geoff Culbert hailed it as a good sign for Sydney international traffic.
“This is an incredible achievement when you consider air travel was almost non-existent through COVID,” he said.
“Attracting airline networks to rebuild capacity to Sydney is key to supporting the recovery of international tourism, business travel, student travel and the broader New South Wales economy.”