Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) has passed German carrier Lufthansa in seat capacity across Europe.
Turkish Airlines is set to increase its seat capacity by 1.6 percent in the second quarter. This growth is pushing it ever ahead of fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa to become Europe's leading flag carrier, THY General Manager Bilal Ekşi announced on his Twitter account.
"THY is taking steps to accomplish the 2023 target. In seat capacity, Turkish Airlines outperformed Lufthansa and climbed to third place in Europe," Ekşi said. Low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet are the top two carriers offering the highest seat capacity on the continent.
The news comes as the flag carrier prepares to switch operations from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport. At the moment, the carrier operates from Europe's newest megahub to international destinations: Ashgabat, Baku, Frankfurt, Kuwait City, London Gatwick, Moscow Vnukovo, Munich, Paris CDG and Tbilisi. It also operates domestic services to 14 destinations. Overall THY operates 105 weekly departures from the airport, but expects to switch all services to the new facility on April 7.
Operations at Istanbul Airport after the grand move will begin at 2 p.m. on April 6, with the first flight departing for the capital's Ankara Esenboğa Airport.
Once all stages are completed, Istanbul Airport will be the world's biggest international airport, covering 76.5 million square meters. The first phase of the airport opened last Oct. 29, on the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The grand opening ceremony was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish ministers, senior officials and heads of state from around the world.
Last year, passenger demand rose by 8.9 percent, followed by a capacity increase of 5.2 percent and seat occupancy rate increase of 2.8 percent. In 2018, the seat occupancy rate was 81.9 percent. The number of passengers carried by THY in 2018 surged by 9.5 percent compared to the same period the previous year, reaching 75 million passengers. The number of international passengers increased by 9.6 percent. According to its annual report, THY aims to carry 80 million passengers in 2019, including 33 million domestic and 47 million international passengers. With an increase of 3 percent in Turkey, 11 percent in the Middle East, 6 percent in Europe, 8 percent in Asia and the Far East, 7 percent in the United States and 15 percent in Africa, the company plans to reach around 195 billion in available seats per kilometer by achieving total growth of 7 to 8 percent. This year the seat occupancy rate is expected to be in the range of 81 to 82 percent.
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