Melbourne will become the first Australian destination for Turkish Airlines, with long-awaited flights to Istanbul set to begin this year.
A route via Singapore will initially fly three times per week on 787-9 Dreamliners, with non-stop services to commence once it acquires the A350-1000s necessary to reach Australia’s east coast directly from Istanbul. The first flight will touch down in Melbourne on 16 March.
“As the airline flying to more countries than any other, we are excited to add Melbourne to our flight network as the 346th destination,” said Turkish Airlines chairman Dr Ahmet Bolat.
“Endowed with natural beauty and a welcoming people, Australia becomes the 130th country and sixth continent under our wings.
“We are glad to be here and plan to strengthen our presence in this great country by both increasing the frequency of our flights and the number of destinations in the years to come.
“Bilateral tourism, trade and business opportunities will boom as we bring Turkish and Australian people closer and the bond between our countries gets stronger.”
Jim Parashos, Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, said the flights will open up “new possibilities” for travellers to Türkiye and across the carrier’s network, which stretches into Europe and Africa.
“Istanbul is the only city to straddle two continents and has always been an important trading post, but it is now also one of the most important transit hubs in the world,” he said.
“These flights have been made possible thanks to the certainty provided by the relaxation of the federal government’s bilateral air services agreement with Türkiye.
“Last month Melbourne Airport became the first capital city in Australia to exceed its pre-pandemic international seat capacity, and Turkish Airlines’ announcement today cements that recovery.”
The Turkish flag carrier was in December granted an initial 21 flights per week under bilateral air service agreements, which will increase to 28 in the latter half of 2024 and 35 the following year, as well as the fifth freedom rights necessary to fly via Singapore.
Both Sydney and Melbourne Airports confirmed last June that they had been in talks with Turkish Airlines for 787-9 flights starting by early 2024. It has ordered 15 longer-range A350-1000s capable of making the non-stop journey from Istanbul to Australia’s east coast.
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.