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Turkish Airlines rapidly expanding number of departures to Stockholm

Turkish Airlines has flown one daily round trip between Istanbul and Stockholm for a long time, but as it has enlarged the role of Istanbul as a hub for travel to the Middle East and East Asia, demand

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Turkish Airlines has flown one daily round trip between Istanbul and Stockholm for a long time, but as it has enlarged the role of Istanbul as a hub for travel to the Middle East and East Asia, demand has increased. The airline has also started flying to India and Thailand.

In February, as an experiment, Turkish Airlines started offering two Istanbul-Stockholm round trips on Mondays. As early as April 3, the airline added a second round trip on Thursdays, and on September 7 it will thus also begin providing two round trips on Sundays.

To make Turkish Airlines an even more attractive alternative, the airline is offering passengers who change aircraft in Istanbul, a free sightseeing tour or stay at a day hotel if their waiting time on the same day is more than seven hours for business class passengers or ten hours for economy class passengers.

Turkish Airlines flies modern aircraft such as the Airbus 320/321 and Boeing 737-800. Last year 19.6 passengers flew on the airline to and from 140 destinations in 69 countries. Since April 2008, Turkish Airlines has been a member of the world’s largest airline alliance and has formally expressed interest in purchasing Austria’s shares in Austrian Airlines, the country’s soon to be privatized flag carrier, according to a report published by the AFP news agency.

Despite the fact that Austrian Airlines finds itself in a difficult financial situation, the central European legacy carrier has managed to attract four serious bidders, including Lufthansa, a Russian company called S7, Air France-KLM and now Turkish Airlines. Two factors may, however, make it difficult for Turkish Airlines to acquire the state’s 43 percent stake in the carrier.

First, European Union regulations place limits on foreign ownership of carriers based within EU member states. This simply means that the majority of these carriers must be owned by firms and investors within the EU. The second obstacle that Turkish Airlines will find itself up against is the fact that Austrian authorities are widely believed to favor a Lufthansa bid. As such, even Air France-KLM, an EU firm, will have difficulty purchasing the state’s stake in the airline.

Despite these challenges and Austrian Airlines’ admittedly precarious financial state, Turkish Airlines indicated that it takes this bid seriously and sent a formal letter advising the Istanbul Stock Exchange of the firm’s current plans. Austrian authorities are likely to make a decision on the carrier’s privatization within the next two months, and the Central European country’s government hopes that the process will be completed by December.

Turkish Airlines (THY) made a bid to buy a 49 percent stake in Air Bosnia, flag carrier of Bosnia-Herzegovina, company’s chairman Candan Karlitekin said at a press conference on Friday.

Karlitekin told a press conference that the move could be an important experience for THY to take other global steps, adding that the THY was also interested in the sale of a 42.5 percent stake in Austrian Airlines held by the Austrian government.

“We are now waiting for the information pack. We will make an assessment about it later,” he added.

The Bosnian government said previously that the Islamic Corporation for the Development of Private Sector and Croatian and Malaysian firms were also interested in bidding.

The federation government owns 99 percent of the company, with 1 percent held by the regional engineering group Energoinvest.

BH Airlines went bankrupt in 2003 but resumed operations in 2005 after a deal with Hypo Alpe Adria bank to settle most of its debt. The company employs 89 people and transported some 70,000 passengers in 2007.

The Boeing Company delivered two new 737-800 airplanes to Turkish Airlines this week that take the airline’s fleet beyond 110 airplanes for the first time. The Next-Generation 737s are part of a 23-airplane order from 2004. There now are 55 737s in the Turkish Airlines fleet. Turkish Airlines has placed two major orders with Boeing in recent years. Initially signing a contract for 26 Boeing 737-800s on October 7, 1997, the Istanbul-based carrier ordered an additional 15 firm 737-800s and eight options on September 28, 2004. The carrier exercised those options on August 4, 2005, increasing its total Boeing orders to 49.

The backbone of THY’s fleet, Boeing 737-800, can carry 162 to 189 passengers and has a range of 5,665 km. The 737 is the world’s most popular jet airliner, with more than 8,000 orders and is still the most efficient, most reliable jet transport in its class.

Turkish Airlines was founded in 1933 with a fleet of five airplanes that could carry 28 passengers in total. The airline made its first domestic flight in 1933 and first international flight in 1947; today, THY carries approximately 20 million passengers per year. THY has direct flights to 108 international and 33 domestic destinations. THY Technic, a subsidiary of THY, is certified as a maintenance center for 737s for Russia and neighboring countries.

Karlitekin also said THY’s first-half profit increased 186 percent compared to the same period in 2007 and reached $216 million.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.