Turkish Airlines Plans March Decision on 100-Plane Order

Turkish Airlines plans to decide next month on an order for about 100 single-aisle planes as the state-controlled carrier links more destinations to win transit passengers and increases short-haul services from Istanbul.

“We are working hard on the decision” as the carrier considers models available, Chairman Hamdi Topcu said in an interview today during a tour by journalists of the company’s flight-training center in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines will also probably buy another five twin-aisle Airbus SAS A330-300s, adding to a current order for 15, he said.

The airline, formally known as Turk Hava Yollari AO, outlined plans in November for the single-aisle aircraft purchase. The carrier is working to expand its fleet by about 70 percent to 350 planes in 2023, it said today. That includes purchases of wide-body jets for use on routes aimed at luring transfer traffic between Europe and Asia away from Air France-KLM Group, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and British Airways.

Boeing Co., the world’s biggest planemaker, plans to offer an upgraded version of its best-selling 737 single-aisle airliner in 2017, two years after Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS is scheduled to release a re-engined version of its competing A320. Bombardier Inc. is developing the CSeries model in an effort to break the Boeing-Airbus duopoly.

Turkish Airlines plans to operate 226 planes by the end of this year, Topcu said. He didn’t specify any models or manufacturers that the carrier is looking at for the 100-plane order. Chief Executive Officer Temel Kotil said in November that “all possibilities” are being considered.

After Topcu spoke about the expanded order for larger planes, the company said it will buy two A330-300s in 2014 and has options to take delivery of three in 2015 and 2016.

Turkish Airlines may sell bonds in international markets to help finance plane purchases, Kotil told reporters today.

“We are going to get a rating first of all,” the CEO said. “We don’t know the type of bonds nor the timing.”

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