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Turkish Airlines equips itself for possible Australia flights

The 777s keep circling Qantas, this time it is those that Turkish Airlines firmed up on as part of its long range expansion strategy, which includes Australia.

Turkish 777-300ER, Boeing photo.

Yet another carrier with ambitions to fly to Australia, Turkish Airlines, has firmed up on an order for more of the jet Qantas derided as old technology, the Boeing 777, underlining the flawed fleet planning that is part of the Australian flag carrier’s continuing problems.

While it has to be acknowledged that Turkish recently backed away from a quick decision on flights to Sydney or Melbourne because of the approvals pending Qantas-Emirates partnership, it remains interested, and as the latest Boeing order underlines, in expanding its global reach as its economic growth changes the face of the nation.

This is the Boeing statement, which while beating its own drum, also provides a handy overview of the size of an airline many Australians might not be familiar with.

ISTANBUL, Dec. 10, 2012 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Turkish Airlines have finalised a firm order for 15 777-300ER (Extended Range) aircraft worth US$4.7 billion at list prices. The agreement, first announced in October as a commitment, also includes options for five additional 777-300ERs and is the largest order by value in Turkish Airlines’ history.

Turkish Airlines’ fleet currently includes 12 777-300ERs, the first of which Boeing delivered in October 2010. Over the past two years, these airplanes have formed the backbone of Turkish Airlines’ long-haul operations. This latest order will enable the Turkish flag-carrier to continue to serve new destinations worldwide.

“This latest order from Turkish Airlines is testament to the key role the 777 has played in the carrier’s long-haul route expansion,” said Todd Nelp, vice president of European Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “In recent years, Turkish Airlines has been incredibly successful in providing its passengers with outstanding service to a growing range of international destinations. The exceptional performance of the 777-300ER, with its excellent fuel economics, reliability and passenger comfort, has been a cornerstone for Turkish Airlines’ continued growth.”

The 777-300ER seats up to 386 passengers in a three-class configuration and has a maximum range of 7,930 nautical miles (14,685 km).

Turkish Airlines currently operates a fleet that includes nearly 100 Boeing aircraft and serves more than 200 destinations across 90 countries worldwide.

A flight between Istanbul and Sydney would be very much at current limits of the profitable payload/range combinations for a 777-300ER, while for a -200LR, it would be a cinch, with both strong passenger and freight uplifts.

Airlines that use the current series 777s to great effect in the Australian market include Air New Zealand, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.  Cathay Pacific, which is a major user of the Airbus A333 and various current or older versions of the 777, uses the Boeing to provide longer range connections over Hong Kong from Australia services flown by the Airbus, which is optimised for the flight stage lengths between here and Hong Kong.

And Emirates and Singapore Airlines have the world’s first and second largest Airbus A380 fleets respectively, as well as making significant use of A330s which each carrier intends to replace with Airbus A350s in full or part, later this decade.

The point about the 777 is that it is incredibly efficient at ranges that are longer than those available with current A333s, but for which the super sized passenger lift performed by the A380 isn’t yet needed.

Qantas has relied on 747-400s for routes that if flown by 777s would have saved it substantial sums in fuel and maintenance, and presented it with expanded freight earning opportunities and allowed for full payload operations on routes where the larger seat count 747s couldn’t utilise all of them because of operational restrictions on longer routes.

This is not a case of yet another armchair CEO offering gratuitous advice, just a simple recitation of the facts, and they are facts that have cost Qantas a fortune in the past decade, and will leave it vulnerable to competitors, and even allies, in the future.

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  • 1
    Merve
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    In their defense, they were supposed to have the 787, which if it had arrived on time, would have had the range to do these trips at an efficiency that would have rivalled that of the 777, with much more flexibility in frequency scheduling.

  • 2
    Ben Sandilands
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Was just looking at a Sam Chui photo of the interior of the Qatar 787 which is due to fly between Perth and Doha later this month, although I’m getting nervous about the lack of a firm date.

    This is by far the best looking Dreamliner config in a premium product yet, sadly out of my price bracket.

    But I also had a look at the 214 seat BA config on Australian Business Traveller this morning and went ‘Whoa, are they kidding?’ There is something awful about Jetstar style short haul seating in a long haul jet which makes my knees ache on sight.

    So far as we know, the 787-8 will not have the viable range to fly Istanbul to Sydney or Melbourne and especially not in the opposite direction. Maybe one day it will. Hopes rest with the 787-9 in this respect, but it now has the same wing as the -8 on a stretched but ‘improved’ jet. It will be years before we know if this actually works. What the sales spiel says and what an airline can actually fly in real conditions are two very different things. And always have been going back to the start of the jet age, when Qantas kept Boeing on the promised path by backing its special version of the 707 to be able to deal with the runways of the time.

  • 3
    ltfisher
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I gather the travel community in Perth isn’t holding their breath in expectation of seeing a Qatar 787 this side of 1 January 2013.

  • 4
    ltfisher
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I understand your wish to protect your knees in the BA 787 config Ben but am I right in seeing a continuation of the hated rear facing seat syndrome, at least in their A380 config?

  • 5
    Ben Sandilands
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Sadly, this is true. On both the 787s and the A380, and in the latter you get it in a seven across layout on the upper deck and eight across on the lower deck. BA certainly set the agenda for the future when it introduced this fully flat parallel to the floor design, but in my opinion, then lost the lead to much better flat bed products with a range of geometrical innovations after that, and it looks like they haven’t recovered it if we compare the offering to that of the best Asia and Middle East carriers.

  • 6
    fractious
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I hope for the sakes of all of us who ‘fly’ cattle class that the Turkish 777-300ERs are quieter than the SQ -300ER I went on recently, and certainly quiter than the old nail of a 200ER BA has used on its BA/QF SYD-LHR codeshares (if ever there was a plane that should have been turned into bean tins 5 years ago G-YMMO is it).

  • 7
    Allan Moyes
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    ltfisher

    continuation of the hated rear facing seat syndrome

    Just wondering, ltfisher, as to your use of the word “hated” re BA’s seating. I’ve seen several anti-BA posts on this blog through the months from various posters (in all classes of travel) and am curious as to why?

    On my last long distance trip I flew BA in this position 3 times, NRT-LHR, LHR-ORD and LHR-SIN. I loved it so I suppose it just comes down to taste. Maybe I was lucky, but on all 3 flights the service was exemplary, the comfort was great and I’d have no hesitation in doing it again. I was on the upper deck on 747′s for each flight and the first two were daylight sectors. Maybe that makes a difference.

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