Turkish delight for airline's BKK route

Turkish Airlines expects to see more demand for its Bangkok-Istanbul route this year, with a projected seat factor of more than 88%.

Yuksel: Optimistic for this season

The fast-growing flag carrier has been able to fill 91% of seats on the route in the first two months of this year, rising from 82% for the whole of last year and 74% in 2011.

Passenger volume for business class was up 24% in 2012 from the previous year, while revenue increased by 36%, Kerrar Yuksel, the airline's director for Thailand, said yesterday.

Economy-class passenger numbers rose by 14% last year and revenue was up 15%, he added.

Mr Yuksel is optimistic of recording a higher seat factor this year despite the airline cutting the frequency of the service from 14 to 11 flights a week starting on Monday to reflect low-season traffic in the six-month summer programme.

The airline uses Airbus 330 and 340 wide-body jets, with respective seating capacities of 289 and 271, on the Bangkok-Istanbul sector.

It has capitalised on the republic's growing popularity as a tourism destination among Thais being enhanced by 12-day visa-free entry being granted by Turkey to Thai nationals in July 2012.

Turkish Airlines, which has flown to Thailand for almost 25 years, has also benefited from growing transfer traffic in Europe, where it has built an extensive network.

In Thailand, the airline will concentrate more on marketing its European routes including Spain, which has become a hot destination for Thais.

In line with its global policy of flying to more than one destination in a country, Turkish Airlines offers direct flights from Istanbul to five Spanish cities _ Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Malaga _ and will launch a service to Santiago de Compostela on May 21.

Mr Yuksel said the airline will continue to rely heavily on more than 100 local travel agents to sell its tickets in Thailand.

Travel agents account for 80% of its ticket sales, while the remaining 20% are direct and internet bookings.

The airline also focuses on supporting local organisations and events to increase brand awareness.

In May, Turkish Airlines will add Kuala Lumpur to its Southeast Asian network in addition to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

The carrier is one of the world's largest airlines with a network reaching 98 countries and 221 cities comprising 36 domestic and 185 international routes.

To support its rapid growth, the airline early this month announced the purchase of 82 A320 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus, with an option on 35, for a list price of more than US$9 billion.

Turkish Airlines last October said it would buy 15 A330s and 15 Boeing 777-300ERs for longer-haul flights.

About the author

Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business