Turkish Airlines has been granted permission to fly 21 flights per week to Australia, five months after the airline struck a regulatory stumbling block when trying to expand its services to Australia.
The decision by Federal Transport Minister Catherine King is effective immediately. It allows Turkiye’s national airline to move on with plans to extend to 35 weekly flights to and from Australia by mid-2025.
The permission includes not just Sydney and Melbourne services, which Turkish Airlines has long planned to add to its network map, but also Brisbane, Perth, and the new Western Sydney airport, which is set to open in 2026.
Despite the Turkish airline’s proposal for only 14 weekly flights between Turkiye and Australia, the clearance offers authorisation for 21 flights, an early Christmas present for the Istanbul-based carrier. The permit provides for even further expansion, with 28 services per week beginning in October 2024 and increasing to 35 services per week starting in October 2025.
This would enable Turkish Airlines to meet its core target of operating daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne while exploring additional options sooner than planned.
Importantly, because Turkish Airlines initially intends to fly to Australian cities via Singapore, the agreement permits the airline to sell particular stop-over routes, such as Istanbul to Singapore or Sydney to Singapore.
According to the authorisation, the “designated airline may exercise fifth freedom traffic rights at two intermediate points of choice in South Asia, South-east Asia, and the Middle East.” Executives at Turkish Airlines have previously stated that so-called ‘fifth freedom’ rights will be a significant business element in establishing the new route.
Turkish Airlines Chairman Ahmet Bolat reportedly told Hürriyet Daily News, “We will begin flights to Australia between 15 and 25 March 2024.”
Turkish Airlines has also revealed that Australian actress Margot Robbie may become a new brand ambassador, which would be a wise move to capitalise on the debut of Australian flights.
Turkish Airlines’ previous worldwide advertising campaigns used brand ambassadors such as athletes Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi, as well as actors Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
Although the airline now has approval to commence flights to Sydney and Melbourne in early 2024, a final decision concerning how to launch flights to Australia is still pending.
Although the first flights will use the B787 Dreamliner due to range constraints, the airline recently announced that it has ordered 15 A350-1000s, which means that the carrier will be able to operate non-stop flights between Turkey and Australia, eliminating the need to refuel in Singapore.