National flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) will schedule 41 direct flights to 13 countries from Turkey's holiday resort city of Antalya, with the intent of continuing flights in the winter season as well. The announcement came during the Mediterranean Touristic Operators Association's (AKTOB) February meeting, attended by Antalya Governor Münir Karaloğlu, THY Assistant General Manager in charge of Marketing and Sales Ahmet Olmuştur, AKTOB Chairman Erkan Yağcı and tourism professionals. In his address, THY's Olmuştur said Antalya is above world standards in terms of infrastructure and service quality, noting they added new destinations to existing direct flight points.
"As THY, we will schedule 41 flights per week to 13 international destinations. We are in talks to put an additional flight for a point in Azerbaijan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia," he said. "In the past, Antalya had a structure that attracted tourists from Western Europe in general. We think that high-income tourists from the Gulf countries and the Middle East can come to Antalya as well."
He further explained that they will schedule three flights per week to Jordan's capital Amman as of June 3, adding they conduct marketing activities in 120 countries and plan to put two flights on the Berlin-Antalya line along with five weekly flights to Kuwait.
Stressing that London is one of the cities sending the largest number of visitors to Turkey, Olmuştur said they want to increase the number of flights on this line from two to five in this regard.
"We used to fly in the summer and cease our flights, except for Russia, in the winter. This time we will not do so but continue our flights with your support in the winter, not to all our points, but to Russia, Moscow, Germany, Berlin, Luxembourg, and Jeddah. Tel Aviv is a rising market," he noted. "Our charter flights are also important. Last year, we scheduled 4,135 charter flights from 33 international destinations, carrying 780,000 passengers. This year we will put a 16 percent capacity increase to this figure. We plan to bring around 900,000 passengers with charter flights." Founded in 1933, THY currently flies to over 300 destinations in more than 120 countries, holding the title of the airline that flies to the most countries in the world. The airline carried 75.2 million passengers last year, a 10 percent year-on-year increase. The company previously said the total number of passengers carried this year is set to reach 80 million.
On the other hand, Antalya Governor Karaloğlu said it is important for the sector to continue with a new perspective, pointing to the significance of THY's new vision for Antalya. "Turkish Airlines is making an important start this year. It is up to us to make this permanent," he said, underlining that they have great expectations for this year with hopes to reach new records.
AKTOB Chairman Yağcı recalled that the vision for the future was important, stressing that they want to raise the income generated from tourism, Yağcı added the number of tourists will increase with THY's direct flights. Turkey saw a double-digit increase in the number of foreign arrivals last year, welcoming 39.5 million foreign visitors, a 21.84 percent increase year-on-year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data. On the other hand, the country's tourism income surged 12.3 percent to $29.5 billion, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
The total number of tourists that visited Turkey last year reached 46.1 million, out of which 6.6 million were Turkish citizens residing abroad. The figure corresponded to an 18.1 percent hike from the previous year.
Antalya was the second top destination, after Istanbul with 13.4 million tourists, and welcomed 12.4 million foreign visitors in 2018.