Turkish Airlines Explores Partnering With Australia's Rex

Credit: James D Morgan/Getty Images

Turkish Airlines is exploring a new partnership with Australian domestic carrier Rex after the Istanbul-based carrier received approvals to rapidly ramp up its flying into Australia.

“We have already commercial cooperation with Australian airlines that allow our passengers to reach Australia,” Turkish Airlines Chairman Ahmet Bolat told Aviation Week Dec. 19.  

“Our team responsible is already negotiating with another partner in Australia—Rex is a respected airline and, as we see it, is expanding firmly in the domestic Australia market,” Bolat said. “The steady increase in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth operations of Rex attracted our attention.”

Rex operates a fleet of nine Boeing 737-800s and 58 Saab 340s to 56 destinations across Australia.

Bolat did not disclose exactly when Turkish Airlines would launch services to Australia. The chairman previously told Aviation Week that his carrier would start with an Istanbul-Singapore-Melbourne route operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft that makes use of its fifth freedom traffic rights.

A source close to Rex confirmed talks with Turkish Airlines had taken place. The source expects Turkish Airlines to begin Australian services in March 2024.

Direct services from Istanbul will follow at some point. “Nonstop flight is not possible to Australian cities that we plan to operate to,” Bolat said, citing the range limitations of Turkish Airlines’ current fleet. When the airline has the aircraft to fly directly, such as the Airbus A350-1000 or 777X, Bolat said he would like to do so.

Earlier in December, Australia’s government approved an increase in the number of flights permitted from Turkey, rising from seven per week to 21X-weekly with immediate effect. The total will increase to 28 per week from the start of the northern winter 2024-25 season and to 35 per week from winter 2025-26.

The frequencies cover service to Australia’s four largest international gateways—Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney—as well as the under-construction Western Sydney International Airport, which is scheduled to open in 2026. The approval also permits fifth-freedom traffic rights at two points in Asia or the Middle East between Istanbul and Australia.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…