Istanbul Airport Secures EasyJet’s Arrival


EasyJet last served Istanbul almost a decade ago, flying to Sabiha Gokcen International.

Credit: philipus / Alamy Stock Photo

EasyJet will begin flying to Istanbul Airport (IST) for the first time during the summer 2023 season, marking the UK carrier’s return to the Turkish city after a hiatus of almost a decade.

The airline previously served Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) for 12 months from March 2013, operating routes from Basel and London Luton. However, the city has remained absent from its network ever since.

The first flight to Istanbul Airport will take off on June 9 from Manchester (MAN), England. Service will be twice a week on Mondays and Fridays, joining the LCC’s existing Turkish operations from MAN to Antalya and Dalaman.

“EasyJet has already announced that it will be basing an additional aircraft here at Manchester this summer, and the expansion of its route network demonstrates the strength of demand for leisure travel in our region, in spite of cost-of-living pressures,” Manchester Airport MD Chris Woodroofe says.

Istanbul will become the 156th destination in easyJet’s network and its fifth in Turkey alongside Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir. It will face competition with Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines in the Manchester-Istanbul market.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that Turkish Airlines plans to offer 3X-daily MAN-IST flights during the summer 2023 season, while Pegasus has a daily flight between MAN and SAW. Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines has a 75% capacity share of the market at the present time, operating about 7,900 two-way weekly seats.

Istanbul Airport handled some 64.3 million passengers in 2022, compared with 68.7 million passengers who traveled through the city’s main gateway in 2019—a figure that includes the combined traffic for IST and the old Ataturk airport, which closed in April of that year.

About 81% of the airport’s capacity is operated by Turkish Airlines and around 98% of capacity is with full-service carriers. The airport has therefore been seeking to increase low-cost penetration, particularly on routes to destinations in Europe.

The latest schedules data shows that the sole European LCC offering flights to IST at the present time is France, with service from Lyon, Nantes and Paris Orly.

Wizz Air will soon join the fray, beginning IST operations during the northern summer 2023 season. Its new routes to IST will see the ULCC fly from two London airports—Gatwick and Luton—as well as Hungary’s Budapest and Iasi in Romania.

During peak summer, Wizz plans to offer more than 10,000 weekly seats to and from Istanbul.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.