Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Turkish Airlines says studying more jet purchases

(Reuters) - Turkish Airlines is studying options for further additions to its fleet of Airbus and Boeing passenger aircraft, but has made no decisions, airline executives told a finance industry conference.

"Most probably we will need large aircraft but cargo capacity is important for us. It is under discussion at high levels in the board now at Turkish Airlines," Levent Konukcu, senior vice-president of investment management at Turkish Airlines, told the Istat Europe event in Istanbul on Tuesday.

He said the airline was looking at the Boeing 787, the Airbus A350, up to A380, or the Boeing 777X.

Airbus and Boeing have been trying to sell their largest aircraft, the 525-seat A380 and 467-seat 747-8, to Turkish Airlines as it seeks to use its geographical position and popularity as a final destination to capture traffic from both European rivals and the mainly transit-based Gulf carriers.

The airline aims to increase annual passenger numbers from 111 million in 2014 to 390 million in 2035, according to slides presented to the conference of about 1,000 aircraft financiers.

In February, the airline said it was studying the feasibility of acquiring either the A380 or 747-8, but political analysts have said the matter is partly influenced by uncertainty over Turkey's stalled efforts to join the European Union, as well as airport capacity issues and slot constraints.

There has also been industry speculation that the airline could initially be tempted to lease some of the largest jets.

Turkish Airline's Chief Executive Temel Kotil did not rule out orders for the very large jets at the same conference, but placed greater emphasis on smaller twin-engined, long-haul jets, which have outsold the four-engined jumbos in recent years.

"We are not against any type of aircraft but recently we have (ordered) the 777 for long-haul and Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies for medium-haul," he said, while the airline has also ordered the Airbus A330 long-haul jet.

"They work very well for us. I don't want to say anything for the future. We have made no decision," Kotil said.

- Source:  http://www.reuters.com

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