Turkish Airlines is planning to commence services between Australia and Istanbul next year after the Australian Government expanded its air rights.
Türkiye’s national carrier, which had applied for 14 flights per week under bilateral air service agreements (ASAs), has been granted an initial 21 flights per week, which will increase to 28 in the latter half of 2024 and 35 the following year. It plans to launch its first flights in March.
The airline has also been granted fifth freedom rights allowing it to stop over en route to Australia in ports such as Singapore. Turkish Airlines chairman Ahmet Bolat said the airline plans to enlist Barbie actress Margot Robbie as a brand ambassador for its Australia–Istanbul services.
“We will commence flights to Australia between March 15 and 25, 2024. We are currently in discussions with Australian actress Margot Robbie,” he told Hurriyet Daily News.
“We plan to bring her to Türkiye a week before the flight and explore various places, including the historic site of Göbeklitepe.
“The Australia flight will involve a layover, a 10-hour stopover in Singapore, and then a further seven-hour journey to Australia.”
Both Sydney and Melbourne Airports confirmed in June that they had been in talks with Turkish Airlines for 787-9 flights starting late this year or in early 2024. It has also this month ordered 15 longer-range A350-1000s capable of making the non-stop journey from Istanbul to Australia’s east coast.
The airline did not make an application for expanded air rights until September, with a spokesperson for Transport Minister Catherine King noting in July that Turkish carriers were “already entitled to operate a total of up to seven services per week to Australia (between the four major gateways) under current bilateral arrangements, subject to meeting safety, security and licensing requirements”.
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.