We reported earlier this year that Turkish Airlines Cargo has plans to expand their worldwide cargo operations and that the Istanbul New Airport which will officially open on December 29th, plays an important role for this expansion.
Remarkable growth pattern
With a fleet of more than 300 passenger aircraft along with around 20 freighters at their disposal, Turkish Airlines Cargo is well situated to further expand their air cargo network.
The new IST airport plays a central role for the future TK Cargo planning, but the carrier is being wise in not putting all their eggs in one basket as of day one. Although well advanced, the airport will surely have its teething troubles during the first months or the first year of operation. This will apply to both the passenger and cargo operations.
Turkish Cargo brands itself as the world’s fastest growing air cargo brand and claims that it has achieved a 29% increase in revenues and a 25% rise in cargo transported between January and September this year. Indeed, a remarkable growth pattern considering that official statistics show that average air cargo market expansion in the same period was listed at around three percent.
Taking it step by step
Although IST New will be operative as of the end of December, TK Cargo’s management has decided not to move operations over there in one go. The plan is to continue using Atatürk Airport for their full freighter operations and belly cargo will be moved in and out of the new airport seeing as all passenger flights will operate from there as of day one. The new airport has completed stage one of their cargo infrastructure and this will give the Turkish national carrier the opportunity to handle 700,000 tons more per annum there in comparison to Atatürk, which has a capacity of 1.3 million tons.
Long term planning at IST New indicates that eventually there will be capacity to handle up to 6 million tons each year. Whether the carrier’s move to hold freighter operations at the old airport for the time being will be a short- or long-term decision, remains to be seen. In order to have a seamless flow of transit belly cargo into and out of their freighter fleet, TK Cargo will most probably only see the Atatürk cargo operation as a temporary solution and will press those concerned to ensure that when they move everything over to the new airport, that things will work from day one.
Fleet and route expansion continue
Turkish Cargo recently ordered a further three Boeing 777Fs from the Seattle manufacturer. These will be used to replace older aircraft models. Statistics show that they still have three Airbus A310Fs on a wet-lease from ULS Airlines, as well as two elderly B747Fs on wet-lease from U.S. carrier Kalitta Air. The current own TK freighter fleet is made up of ten A330Fs and four B777Fs
Many of the Airbus and Boeing long-haul passenger jets in their 300 plus strong passenger fleet offer plenty of belly capacity, which make Turkish Cargo a serious competitor to other cargo carriers worldwide.
Their South American cargo operation is proving to be profitable and they recently moved the Sao Paulo, Brazil operation from Guarulhos Airport to Viracopos Airport which is situated closer to Brazil’s technology hub at Campinas.
New cargo destinations are in the pipeline. These include Caracas, Quito and Panama City in South America. New Asian destinations in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are said to be on the drawing board as well.
John Mc Donagh