Turkish Airlines plans to disclose a new long-haul aircraft order early next year, probably for 20 firm commitments and 10 options, covering the replacement of its Airbus A340s and A310s.

During a demonstration flight of the Airbus A380 in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines general manager Temel Kotil said: “We made a five-year plan for the fleet, and in 2004 signed a contract with Boeing and Airbus for fleet expansion. We are planning to announce new orders at the beginning of 2008.”

Turkish Airlines started searching for long-haul aircraft in May and received briefings from Boeing about the 787 and Airbus regarding the A350 XWB.

The carrier is planning to place orders for at least 20 aircraft and possibly add 10 options. Turkish Airlines is also looking for medium-range types to expand its Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 fleets. A technical report on the fleet expansion has been completed and sent to the carrier’s board.

Turkish Airlines chairman Candan Karlitekin adds: “There is a long queue for 787s and A350s. We will talk with leasing companies to acquire the aircraft earlier. Turkish Airlines is planning to increase its long-range flights.”

It operates seven A340-300s and five A330-200s and the carrier next year will lease a pair of A330s to replace two of its A310s. These A310s will be converted into freighters.

While Turkish Airlines is not an immediate A380 customer, Kotil says : “We’ve reached high growth rates in recent years and our aim is to carry 30 million passengers by 2010.

“If we continue like this we can reach A380 capacity in the next seven or eight years. We believe Istanbul Ataturk Airport will be one of the biggest hubs in the region.”

Source: FlightGlobal.com