Turkish Airlines To Seal Large Airbus Order At Dubai Airshow

Credit: Airbus/Pascal Pigeyre/Master Films

DUBAI—Turkish Airlines and Airbus are understood to be in the final stages of negotiating a major aircraft order Nov. 12, ahead of the opening of the 2023 Dubai Airshow. 

According to industry sources, the deal for a large number of Airbus A321neos and A350s could be announced at the show as early as Nov. 13.

Bloomberg reported Nov. 11 that the airline will commit to 250 A321neos and 100 A350s, while Turkish news agency Anadolu said earlier that an agreement had already been reached. However, people familiar with the talks indicated that no deal has formally been reached yet and that the actual aircraft order numbers are lower than have been reported.

Airbus and Turkish Airlines declined to comment.

The airline has said that it wants to order up to 600 new aircraft, around 200 of which are going to be widebodies. Boeing and Airbus are pitching the 787, 777X and A350 respectively as long-haul aircraft. Given the size of the order and the long delivery times, Turkish is expected to split the order among manufacturers. 

The airline also wants to expand its network to include destinations in Australia, for which it has been considering the 777X and the A350-1000. It is unclear whether the airline is still planning to order both models. Air India earlier this went for a split order between the two largest Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Talks with Boeing are also progressing, but industry sources believe an agreement may not be reached before the end of the show. A Boeing deal is understood to include a number of 737 MAXs alongside the widebodies.

Turkish is targeting a fleet of around 800 aircraft by the year 2033 as it seeks to expand its hub in Istanbul.

In August, Chief Financial Officer Murat Seker said a decision about the large orders would be delayed by two months, partly because of the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine issues affecting its A321neo fleet. The airline had initially planned to announce its decision ahead of the June 4-6 IATA annual general meeting in Istanbul and then at the Paris Air Show later the same month.

Turkish has since made the first, relatively small step in renewing and growing its fleet by adding 10 Airbus A350-900s to its order backlog. The airline confirmed the decision in a regulatory notice on Sept. 1.Those aircraft will be delivered in 2025, 2026 and 2027 and will complement a stream of incoming A350s from a previous order.

According to Aviation Week Network Fleet Discovery data, the airline currently operates a fleet of 319 aircraft; 36 more are either parked, stored or in parked reserve status, meaning they can be reactivated at short notice. The fleet will comprise of 440 aircraft by the end of the year, according to Seker. The airline plans to take delivery of another 40 aircraft in 2024. 

For the short term, the carrier plans to access the leasing market to make up for short falls, created among others by the expected grounding of around 40 PW1100G-powered A320neo family aircraft across Turkish and subsidiary Anadolujet pending engine inspections and repairs.

Turkish currently has outstanding orders for 26 more A350-900s and 47 A321neos. The carrier also has 10 Boeing 787-9s still to be delivered—five in 2024, four in 2026 and one in 2027.

Other orders expected at the Dubai Airshow include commitments by Emirates, Saudia and Riyadh Air.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.

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