Turkish Airlines could emerge as a rival for Gulf carriers Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways, the president of Boeing told a conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Bertrand-Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, told the Global Aerospace Summit on: “Turkey is a significant opportunity. It has got the capability, the geo-graphic positioning, the population, the culture to be a success and a source of a lot of growth over the next 20 years.
“It will introduce an interesting dynamic and another competitor in this hub strategy for aviation.”
Turkish Airways plans to invest $3.74bn this year on previously ordered planes to grow its fleet to 261 aircraft, The National reported.
And competition between it and the three largest Gulf carriers is likely to intensify when Istanbul’s new $11 billion international hub airport opens in 2017.
Under the plans, the new airport will have six runways and capacity to accommodate 150 million passengers.
Airplanes stand in snow on January 6, 2015 at Ataturk airport in Istanbul. (Getty Images)
Istanbul Ataturk Airport recorded almost 61.3 million passengers last year, while Dubai drew 78 million and expects this figure to rise to 85 million this year.
Turkey’s General Directorate of the State Airports Authority said in a statement in January that the number of passengers on international flights through all Turkish airports grew 4.4 percent to 84 million in 2015, and the number of international flights grew 4.9 percent to 620,764, according to Turkish media.
Emirates Airlines announced last week that it would boost capacity on its daily service to Istanbul’s smaller airport, Sabiha Gokcen.
Allen reportedly added: “I think that Turkey is starting to rival the UAE airline and Turkey is doing very well. We are keen to watch this develop.”