Fast-growing Turkish Airlines sees a need for an aircraft with the capacity of the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8 but is focused on acquiring more widebody twinjets in the near term.
The Star Alliance carrier's growth is constrained by capacity issues at its hub at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, although plans are underway for an all-new hub to be built. Turkish is a major operator of both Airbus and Boeing types and its widebody fleet comprises a mix of A330/A340s and 777-300ERs - the latter with 344 seats being the largest aircraft it currently operates.
Speaking at the recent Airline Business Alliances, Joint Ventures and Partnerships conference in Istanbul, Turkish chief executive Temel Kotil explained that while in the longer term, growth could be accommodated by the planned new airport, the A380 and 747-8 are both prospective aircraft for the airline.
"We are growing very fast and any machine we could have we can use - the 747-8 and A380 are nice aircraft and we need this sort of capacity. We have 36 long-haul aircraft which is not enough," he says.
Kotil confirmed that Turkish is evaluating both types but says that any decision to order either super-jumbo will come after the airline decides on acquiring more of the widebodies it currently operates: "We are evaluating [the A380 and 747-8], but most likely they will be later. Earlier it will be A330s or 777s," he says.