Turk Hava Yollari (THYAO) AO, known as Turkish Airlines, is talking to both Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. (BA:US) about ordering jumbo jets to keep up with surging traffic through its Istanbul hub.
The carrier needs aircraft bigger than its current largest model, 330-seater Boeing 777s, and it is looking at the 747-8 and the Airbus A380, Chief Executive Officer Temel Kotil said in a Bloomberg TV interview in Beijing yesterday, where he is attending an industry meeting. He declined to comment on how many planes the carrier may order and when.
“We need more big machines,” he said. “It’s urgent.”
The airline’s passenger traffic has jumped 28 percent this year, more than triple the global growth rate, as it builds up a network connecting travelers in Asia, Europe and Africa. The airline also expects to boost profit this year even as a debt crisis in Europe slows global economic growth.
“This year’s going to be much better,” Kotil said, ahead of the International Air Transport Association annual meeting. The carrier made an 18.5 million lira ($10 million) profit last year. Analysts had expected a loss.
Turkish Air has grown the seventh-largest network worldwide, with 182 destinations, Kotil said. The expansion has helped boost earnings as fixed costs are spread over a bigger operation. The airline’s costs are about 30 percent less than European carriers’ on average, Kotil said.
The airline has 39 long-haul jets, according to its website, including 12 Boeing 777s and 17 passenger Airbus A330s. It hasn’t ordered either Boeing 787s or Airbus A350s. The carrier is unlikely to buy these planes as it wants aircraft larger than 777s, Kotil said.
The A380 in three class configuration seats 525 passengers though can carry more than 800 if set up exclusively for coach passengers. The 747-8 seats about 467 people in a three-class configuration.
Turkish serves 20 points in Africa, more than any of the Gulf region carriers, Kotil said. This network is helping the airline draw travelers from mainland China, which has limited direct flights to the continent, he said.
Within China, Turkish is hoping to increase frequencies on its Shanghai and Beijing services to twice daily. It is also looking to add five new destinations including Chengdu and Urumqi.
Kotil declined to comment on whether 305 employees terminated without compensation for taking part in a go-slow action on May 29 would be rehired. The employees were let go after parliament passed a measure banning airline workers from strikes.
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