INSIGHT: Pegasus flies high; celebrates ten years with 100 destination and 100 million passenger milestones

Turkish low-cost carrier, Pegasus Airlines will next month expand its network beyond the 100 destination milestone when it adds to its domestic network from its base at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul. The new daily flights to Kars and Ordu-Giresun will commence on November 9, 2015 and November 13, 2015, respectively, and will provide connection opportunities via Istanbul into numerous international markets.

Although first formed as a charter business in 1990, Pegasus has taken-off in the scheduled market since it was acquired by ESAS Holding in 2005 and over recent years has been among the fastest-growing major scheduled airlines in Europe, even out-performing its local rival Turkish Airlines in terms of capacity growth.

As it celebrates the tenth anniversary since the launch of its scheduled flights on November 1, 2005 it has grown from just six local routes to offering a wide-reaching network that spans destinations in 40 countries. Alongside its two new domestic flights, a new link to Israel’s Eilat (Ovda Airport) will bring its network to 101 destinations before the end of next month, increasing its international route map to 68 points.

Over this period, Pegasus has flown over 100 million passengers, reaching 103.65 million for the period between 2005 and the end of the first half of 2015. This year new routes from Istanbul have included flights to Baghdad, Erbil, London (Gatwick), Kutaisi, Nice and Oslo and in Turkey to Kastamonu, as well as links to Delhi and Urumqi under its Pegasus Asia brand.

In the last calendar year (2014) the airline carried 19.74 million passengers, a rise of 17.3 per cent versus the previous year, increasing its share of the domestic market to 28 per cent and international market to 9.4 per cent. Its growth is being facilitated by a fleet strategy that will see it replace its current Boeing 737 fleet with new A320neo Family equipment.

It has already started the transition with the arrival of current production A320s but will start to receive the first of its new A320neos from 2016. It is due to add seven aircraft in 2016, five in 2017, ten in 2018, 14 in 2019, 13 in 2020 and eight in 2021 when the first of its larger A321neos will arrive: five are due in 2021 and 13 more in 2022.

OAG schedule data shows that Pegasus Airlines has recorded double-digit capacity growth in each of the past four years after rapid expansion between 2009 and 2010. The growing scale of its operations means its rate of growth has been slowing, but still recorded a 13.6 per cent rise in 2014, and 2015 capacity is forecasted to grow a healthy 15.1 per cent in 2015, based on published schedules, It now offers a network capacity of over 27 million seats, a far cry from the 500,000 seats it offered in 2008.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…