Turk Hava Yollari AO, known as Turkish Airlines, is close to ordering 100 narrow-body planes as it builds its Istanbul base into a global hub.
The carrier may announce an agreement this year or early next year, Chief Executive Officer Temel Kotil said today in an interview in Hong Kong. The Istanbul-based carrier is looking at “all possibilities,” he said, when asked about the types of planes it would buy.
Turkish Air plans to expand its fleet to 350 aircraft from 201 by 2020 as it adds flights linking Africa, Europe and Asia. The strategy helped the company boost passenger numbers 20 percent in the first nine months of the year, even as a global economic slowdown sapped industrywide travel growth.
The state-backed carrier is also in talks with Deutsche Lufthansa AG about deepening cooperation. The companies are examining possibilities short of equity investments, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said this month. The two already have a joint venture, SunExpress, flying between Germany and Turkey.
Kotil declined to comment further on what areas the companies are looking at. The talks are at an “early stage,” he said in a separate Bloomberg TV interview.
The Turkish carrier, which flies to more countries than any other airline, has more than doubled this year in Istanbul trading. It’s the second-best performer in the 31-member Bloomberg World Airlines Index behind U.S. Airways Group Inc.
Turkish Air’s planned 350-plane fleet will include about 80 long-haul aircraft with the rest being single-aisle planes, Kotil said. The carrier will receive 36 new narrow-bodies in the next two years, he said. It has outstanding orders for Boeing Co. 737s and Airbus SAS A320-family planes.
The airline also ordered 20 long-haul Boeing Co. 777-300ERs last month and took five options, which it will “most likely” exercise, Kotil said. It also signed a deal for 15 Airbus SAS A330-300s in October.
The carrier has ruled out ordering the larger Boeing 747-8s and Airbus A380s in the short term to focus on the 777s and A330s, Kotil said. Using the smaller planes allows the airline to add more frequent services, he said. Possible plans including increasing daily flights to cities including Chicago and Hong Kong to double-daily services, Kotil said.
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