Turkish Airlines, the flag carrier of Turkey, and Airbus and have reached “an agreement in principle for a significant commercial aircraft order,” Airbus confirmed Nov. 13 on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow.
The yet-to-be-firmed-up deal is for up to 355 aircraft, 240 of which will be on firm order, according to Turkish Airlines. The flag carrier said in a filing to the Istanbul stock exchange that “discussions with Airbus … are ongoing.” The aircraft are to be delivered between 2026 and 2036.
“Necessary announcements will be shared with the public following to the Board of Directors’ approval,” Turkish stated. Airbus also said that it is “ratifying this agreement and will communicate in the coming days.”
Turkish Airlines is understood to be ordering a mix of A321neos and A350s, with the vast majority of the commitment being for the narrowbody, Aviation Week reports.
The deal is part of Turkish’s latest strategic plan that foresees the carrier growing its fleet to 800 aircraft by 2033. To achieve this and compensate for retirements on the way, Turkish is looking at ordering a total of 600 aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing.
The Boeing part of the fleet investment—understood to be for the 737 MAX, 787 and possibly the 777X—is still under negotiation and is understood to be not quite as far advanced as the Airbus component of the order, Aviation Week says.
Turkish Airlines to expand operations after Airbus deal
Turkish Airlines operated a fleet of 435 aircraft as of the end of September, up from 388 jets a year earlier. The carrier increased the number of destinations it flies to from 335 to 339, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet.
As of 2022, it operates scheduled services to 340 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, making it the largest mainline carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations.
In the first 10 months of 2023, Turkish Airlines carried 71.3 million passengers, up 17.8 percent from a year ago, with international passengers rising nearly 16 percent year-on-year to 45.1 million.
The domestic passenger tally in the January-September period rose 21.6 percent to 26.2 million.
The Turkish agreement is one of two mega-orders Airbus has been expecting for the Dubai Airshow. The other one, a follow-up order by Emirates for more A350, is still hanging in the balance.
Industry sources say Emirates and engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce have yet to come to an understanding over maintenance guarantees for the A350s’ Trent XWB engines. Emirates is expecting to take delivery of the first of 50 A350-900s from a previous order in August 2024.