Turkish Air to Divert Russia Routes Amid Jet-Shootdown Sanctions

  • Carrier says global network provides alternative destinations
  • Trade sanctions still a blow in market of `great potential'

Turkish Airlines will shift capacity from Russia to other markets as President Vladimir Putin introduces sanctions including travel restrictions in response to last week’s downing of a jet fighter over Syria.

The airline, which recently became the biggest foreign carrier serving Russia after overtaking Deutsche Lufthansa AG, sees sufficient potential across the 110 countries it serves to largely offset the negative impact of reduced Russian operations, spokesman Ali Genc said Monday in a phone interview.

“If there is fall in numbers with Russia, we are ready to increase flights and frequencies to other destinations in other countries to compensate for the decrease,” Genc said. The sanctions would still mean the suspension of “great potential for growth,” he said.

Turk Hava Yollari AO, as the airline is formally known, serves 10 destinations in Russia, its largest market after Germany, and had aimed to carry more than 1 million passengers there in 2015 out of 60 million across its network, according to comments on Nov. 10. More than a third of customers on the routes change planes in Istanbul for connecting flights around the world.

Charter Ban

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has given details of a string of restrictions outlined by Putin over the weekend after Turkish air force F-16 jets downed a Sukhoi Su-24 on the Syrian border on Nov. 24. The measures include the banning of all charter services to and from Turkey, and moves to “monitor scheduled flights” among others, he told deputies.

“We need to wait and see the full impact of the Russian sanctions because the flights are still being done with passengers who have bought tickets long ago,” Genc said.

Turkish Airlines had planned to add five more Russian destinations in 2016 before relations between Black Sea neighbors soured. Shares of the Istanbul-based carrier fell as much as 2 percent and were trading 1.4 percent lower at 7.72 liras as of 4:38 p.m. local time.

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