Turkey’s aviation sector grew by 15% in the beginning of 2015, compared to 5% globally over the same time period. This follows on from over a decade of strong performance. From 2003 to 2014, the sector grew on average 13.7% each year, compared to a growth rate of 5.7% per year for the aviation industry globally.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport Passenger Growth


Source: Airports Council International

Passenger penetration, the ratio of passengers to total population, in the Turkish market increased by nearly three times between 2003 – 2014. Passenger numbers rose by an average of 16% a year from 2003 to 2013, which is three times more than the country’s GDP growth. Even during the crisis of 2009, which saw Turkey’s GDP decrease by 5%, passenger numbers still increased by 6%. In 2013, Turkey had the 11th highest aviation traffic in the world, in terms of passenger numbers.

Turkish Airlines At a Glance

  Founded: 1933
Employees: 19,341
Airplanes: 306
Destinations: 284 destinations in 113 countries
Passengers: 72 million (2015)
Brand Value: $2.2 billion
Revenue: $10.5 billion (2015)
Net Profit: $1.1 billion (2015) / $832 million (2014)
Awards: Best Airline in Europe (2011-12-13-14-15)
Did you know: THY has the world’s largest flight network.

Istanbul New Airport
Istanbul's new airport is planned to open by the beginning of 2018.

Istanbul New Airport

  Annual capacity: 90 million passengers (2018)
Target: 150 million passengers (2028)
Runways: 6
Terminals: 4

Istanbul’s third airport, currently under construction, is set to be one of the biggest in the world. When it opens, it will undoubtedly redraw the lines on the world aviation map and will likely cement Istanbul’s position as a regional hub. The airport is planned to open by the beginning of 2018. In its first phase, the airport will have three runways, a railway link and an annual passenger capacity of 90 million. The plan is to expand this further and for the airport to have six runways, four terminals and an annual passenger capacity of 150 million by 2028. The airport will solve Istanbul’s current capacity problem, currently holding back development. However, filling the expanded capacity may also take time and this will also only exacerbate Turkey’s Istanbul-centric approach to developing its aviation sector. Turkey’s aviation sector has an exciting future ahead of it, however, its fate is tied to that of the country’s economy and other inter-related sectors.