SunExpress increased capacity and added over 2,000 flights to Turkey to meet strong demand during the longer 2023 tourism season. This helped the carrier exceed its passenger target for total numbers in 2023.
All-time high passenger numbers
CEO, Max Kownatzki, told reporters in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya that SunExpress, a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, flew almost 10 million passengers from January to September, an all-time high, and achieved a record 88% load factor. The amount is significantly higher than the 7.9 million passengers serviced in the first three quarters of 2019, before the coronavirus epidemic interrupted global travel.
Kownatzki said: “We have exceeded our targets in passenger traffic and anticipate surpassing our goal of 12 million passengers by year-end. To meet the ongoing demand for Turkey following the summer season, we have increased our capacity. We will continue to contribute to the country’s goal of welcoming 60 million tourists.”
Tourism in Turkey
According to data revealed from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, over 33 million holiday makers travelled to Turkey between January and August last year which was a jump of almost 14% when compared year-on-year. The goal for the government is to welcome 60 million foreign travellers, which will see income rising to over $55 billion.
SunExpress' capacity growth equated to 500,000 additional tickets for the September-December period of 2023, and Kownatzki stated that the airline was expanding its record flying network with 15 new destinations.
Naming the carrier, the “Turkish Tourism Ambassador” Kownatzki explained that the company wants to make Turkey into a place tourists will visit all year round. To do this, the company intends to utilise the history, environment, cuisine, and sports that Turkey has to offer.
In 2022, the Antalya-based airline flew a record 10.7 million passengers, primarily between Turkey and European nations, with an 85% load factor, exceeding pre-pandemic levels, as well as achieving the highest revenue of $1.57 billion.
The recovery from the pandemic saw record tourist numbers in Turkey, giving the highest profits to the point where the government had to review their yearly predictions. Arrivals increased 80.33% to 44.6 million, barely short of the record of 45.1 million in 2019. Income increased 53.4% to a record high of about $46.3 billion as the pandemic's effects faded, and Russian immigration surged.
According to official data, revenue jumped 27% to reach $21.7 billion from January to June. Tourism makes up approximately 10% of the GDP (gross domestic product) and also provides jobs for about 1.7 million people in the food and accommodation services, which equated to 5% of total employment in the country.
Advanced bookings for 2024
SunExpress' Kownatzki mentioned advanced bookings for 2024, which are 20% higher than reservations for 2023. SunExpress ordered 42 Boeing planes, nine of which have been delivered, and the company has taken further steps to manage fleet growth in a sustainable manner, including reducing seasonality effects.
Kownatzki said that: “With over 30 years of experience in the industry, we continue to contribute to Turkish aviation and create jobs as a company that has been awarded the ‘Great Place to Work’ certificate by its employees.”
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