Turkish Air Revives A380 Plan With Malaysia Jets Back on Agenda

  • Ultra-large aircraft could be needed for China, India routes
  • Boeing 747-8 also under consideration, marketing head says

Turkish Airlines has revived its interest in the Airbus Group SE A380 superjumbo as it examines options for serving China, India and some European markets, the carrier’s marketing chief said.

Ultra-large jetliners are likely to be required to serve East Asia in particular amid capacity limitations there, Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur said in an interview in Dubai on Tuesday, adding that Boeing Co.’s 747-8 jumbo is also under consideration and that the company could even take both models.

Turkish Air, which last year walked away from a plan to lease a batch of A380s from Malaysian Airlines, is once again looking at offers from carriers including Malaysian to rent superjumbos, Olmustur said. Otherwise it would prefer to buy outright if Airbus offers a revamped “Neo” version of the aircraft, he said.

“We do have intentions for the A380 but the new generation is coming so we
have to be sure which is cost effective,” the executive said. The airline wouldn’t want more than 10 of the planes and the 747’s cargo-carrying ability might make it better suited to destinations such as Hong Kong, he said.

Turkish Air, as Turk Hava Yollari AO is known, plans to make a decision on the A380 before moving to Istanbul’s new airport, the first phase of which is due to open in the first quarter of 2018.

CEO Skeptical

Temel Kotil, the carrier’s chief executive officer, said in June that the superjumbo doesn’t fit with a strategy of rapid fleet growth and high flight frequencies, and that he wouldn’t be taking the surplus Malaysian planes. Gulf giants Emirates, Qatar Airways Ltd. and Etihad Airways PJSC, with which Turkish Air competes on inter-continental routes, all deploy the model.

The airline is meanwhile continuing discussions with Deutsche Lufthansa AG, its partner in holiday carrier SunExpress, which could lead to a number of code-share flights, Olmustur said. Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr meets with Turkish Air every three or four months, he said.

SunExpress suffered a 15 percent drop in passenger travel from Germany in the first quarter amid concern about terrorist attacks in Turkey. Numbers should pick up in the current three months and into the third quarter, Olmustur said.

Turkish Air has cut Russian capacity by 15 percent after sales fell on Turkey’s downing of a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter near the Syrian border in November. It still serves Russian 10 cities and sees reservations reviving, the executive said.

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