Turkish Airlines has confirmed with Global Atlanta that it will launch nonstop flights from Istanbul to Atlanta next summer.
The airline posted the schedule for the flight Monday on its website but gave little detail about its operation. Now, the flights are available to be reserved online from next May 16 onward.
Ali Genc, senior vice president of media relations, said Atlanta was the largest U.S. market without Turkish Airlines service and that the flight will be operated year-round, starting with a summer sale through October and then entering a winter period when that season begins.
“We have planned to offer that flight indefinitely, not seasonally. The flights are open to sale 365 days,” Mr. Genc told Global Atlanta in an email.
The airline didn’t directly address whether the delivery of new planes led to the decision to start the service, which was under discussion for years.
“Turkish Airlines is willing to enlarge its flight network in the USA. Atlanta is currently the city with the biggest potential among the USA cities that we are not operating flights. That’s why we will commence Atlanta flights following our Miami flights,” which start in October, Mr. Genc said. “Our fleet is expanding continuously and we are aiming to use that fleet on the most suitable routes, Atlanta being among one of them.”
A Boeing 777-300ER (extended range) aircraft deployed on the route will offer 49 business class seats and 300 spots in economy. Turkish Airlines in May took delivery of its 125th Boeing plane and is slated to receive 12 total this year, seven of them being 777s.
The global network the airline has built, with more 200 destinations in more than 100 countries, will help sustain the flights through the Istanbul hub, which will pull traffic from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and beyond.
“As a global network carrier, we are not only focusing on local passengers but also transfer passengers from all over the world,” Mr. Genc said.
That squares with the thoughts of the Turkish consul general in Miami, who told Global Atlanta that this new flight means global connections for Atlanta, not just enhanced business ties between the city and Turkey.
“Daily Houston flights [begun in 2013] are carrying only close to 10 percent Turks because Istanbul is like a United Nations from an aviation point of view,” said Özgür KÄ±vanç Altan, the consul general.
The airline will also pull travelers from its Star Alliance partners, of which United Airlines is the largest. United and other airlines have a marginal presence in Atlanta, which is dominated by SkyTeam member Delta Air Lines Inc.
Tamer Cavusgil, a Turkey native and international business professor at Georgia State University‘s Robinson College of Business, said the flight will also knit Atlanta more closely together with Turkey, one the university’s five strategic countries.
“It certainly helps with study abroad programs such as ours, but more importantly facilitates closer linkages with Turkey for businesses as well as educational institutions. All major universities in Georgia should benefit via student recruitment and exchange with their Turkish counterparts,” Dr. Cavusgil said.
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