China Eastern Starts Shanghai-Istanbul Flights, Signs MOU With Turkish Airlines

china eastern airlines a330-200
Credit: Joe Pries Aviation

China Eastern Airlines has opened service between Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Istanbul Airport (IST).

Shanghai-based China Eastern is launching the route in conjunction with plans to cooperate with Turkish Airlines, according to the carriers. Turkish currently operates daily service on the IST-PVG route with a Boeing 777-300ER. China Eastern started 3X-weekly flights on the route on Sept. 28 with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Specifics of the planned cooperation between the airlines were not detailed. The carriers say in a joint statement that they have “agreed to improve and expand the cooperation between the airlines in line with China Eastern Airlines’ flights between Shanghai and Istanbul,” adding that “further major steps will be taken once the necessary authorizations are obtained from the relevant authorities.”

The airlines say they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to cooperate more closely. “Both airlines are pleased that the benefits to be obtained from the cooperation will be maximized with the extensive networks of both Turkish Airlines and China Eastern Airlines,” the carriers say.

Turkish adds that “Chinese carriers’ intention to operate flights to Istanbul is one of the major indicators of the post-pandemic recovery of the Turkey-mainland China market.”

In addition to the daily service to PVG, Turkish also flies daily from IST to both Beijing and Guangzhou.

Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Ekşi says the carrier “will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure our growth in the Chinese market in line with … cooperation with our valued partners in the region.”

China Eastern CEO Li Yangmin adds: “The opening of China Eastern Airlines’ air service from Pudong to Istanbul will further facilitate trade and [passenger] movement between the two countries … With the opening of this air service and the signing of the [MOU], the space for future cooperation between the two sides will be broader.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.