Turkish Airlines hits all-time monthly high in passengers, occupancy rate in February

Turkish Airlines aircrafts are parked at the Atatürk International airport in Istanbul, Turkey, December 3, 2015. (Reuters Photo)
Turkish Airlines aircrafts are parked at the Atatürk International airport in Istanbul, Turkey, December 3, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

Turkey's national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), has seen records broken in both passengers carried and seat occupancy in February, the airline said in a statement.

The number of passengers carried by the airline rose to 26 percent, reaching 5.1 million in February, compared to the same month last year, which is the first time 5 million passengers was exceeded in February in the airline's history. The statement also said that the airline's passenger load, or seat occupancy, was up 6.4 percent to 79.7 percent in the February, which is also the highest occupancy rate the airline has seen in any February in its history.

In January and February, the total passengers it carried climbed 31 percent over the same period last year to reach 10.8 million, the statement said.

It said the number of international passengers rose 27 percent, with the exception of international-to-international transfer passengers, or transit passengers.

The cargo and mail volume also grew 39.4 percent year-on-year in February, and 44 percent in the first two months of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, the statement said.

THY carried 68.6 million passengers in 2017.

The airline flies to over 300 destinations – 252 international and 49 domestic –with its fleet of more than 330 passenger and cargo planes.

From 2011 to 2016, the Skytrax world airline survey named THY the best airline in Europe.

U.S. praises Boeing-Turkish deal

The U.S. State Department welcomed an agreement by Turkey's national flag carrier to purchase $7 billion worth of aircraft from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing.

"So pleased to see this deal – creating jobs at home and expanding economic opportunities overseas! A great example of the U.S. and #Turkey collaborating on free, fair, and reciprocal #trade," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a post on her official Twitter account.

Boeing and THY finalized an order for 25 787-9 Dreamliners with options for five more airplanes, Boeing announced late Monday on its official website.

"We are proud to extend our decades-long partnership with Turkish Airlines and we welcome them to the growing group of elite airlines who have made the 787 Dreamliner the most preferred mid-sized twin-aisle airplane today," Boeing CEO and Commercial Airplanes President Kevin McAllister said in a written statement.

"We are confident that Turkish Airlines will enjoy the Dreamliner's unmatched fuel efficiency, range, and superior cabin features."

THY's newest and fastest-selling Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing will begin service s at Istanbul's third airport, which is planned to be the largest airport in the world with a capacity for 150 million passengers annually.

The inauguration of the airport is planned for Oct. 29, 2018.

The sale agreement between Boeing and THY was signed during a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the U.S. for the 72nd Session of the U.N. General Assembly in September 2017.

THY announced on Friday it has decided to purchase 50 firm and 10 optional wide-body aircraft from the world's two-largest aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, of which six are to be delivered in 2019, 14 in 2020, 10 in 2021, 12 in 2022, 11 in 2023 and seven in 2024.

"A total of 30 B787-9 aircraft, of which 25 firm and five optional will be purchased from Boeing, and a total of 30 A350-900 aircraft, of which 25 firm and five optional will be purchased from Airbus," the airline said.

European passenger traffic backed by Turkish airports

Air passenger traffic in Europe rose 7.4 percent year-on-year in January, an airport authority said on Monday.

"As in previous months, the non-EU market led the growth dynamic at 14.6 percent, on the back of Turkish airports increasing their passenger traffic by an impressive 28.1 percent," Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said in a statement.

It added that during the same period passenger traffic at Russian airports rose, but at a slower pace than Turkey, at 7.7 percent.

Air passenger traffic in the EU was also on the rise at 5.2 percent in January 2018, compared to the same month last year.

This rise stemmed from the fallout of Air Berlin and Monarch's bankruptcies fading away along with Ryanair's decision to take 25 aircraft out of its fleet this winter, ACI Europe said.

"The fact that January 2017 had seen a very strong increase – 10 percent – also contributed to the lower performance," it said.

ACI Europe said that passenger traffic in the top-five European airports grew 9.3 percent thanks to the rise at Istanbul's Atatürk International Airport.

"This performance was primarily influenced by a +30.3% increase at Istanbul Atatürk, which propelled the airport to the second position amongst the league, behind London-Heathrow (+1.1 percent) and just above Paris-CDG (+4.9 percent)."

Amsterdam-Schiphol and Frankfurt also contributed to the performance by boosting their passenger traffic 7.6 percent.

ACI Europe also said that freight traffic has kept its upward trend, rising 8.4 percent year-on-year in the month.

The ACI Europe airport traffic report includes 241 airports representing more than 88 percent of European air passenger traffic.

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