TURKISH EYES JUBA AS AFRICAN EXPANSION PLANS GAIN MOMENTUM
It was learned from a regular source in Juba, South Sudan’s capital city that on the prowl Turkish Airlines has apparently set sights on Africa’s youngest country too, as the relentless rollout of African destinations continues to unfold. Reported here way ahead of the mainstream aviation media that THY had ‘sniffed around’ Arusha to ascertain the potential of starting flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport, which have commenced last week in combination with Mombasa, here too are early indications that Turkish may start flights to Juba in 2014, when the overall number of African destinations is set to rise to 40, according to information released a while ago by the airline. Unlike some of the big Gulf carriers, Turkish has arrived almost by stealth, but for sure without the usual great fanfare of media blitzes and publicity stunts other than concentrating on travel agents and the targeted business community, and is now covering the East African region better than any other foreign carrier with daily flights to Entebbe, Kigali, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and 5 flights a week to Kilimanjaro and Mombasa, at par with Ethiopian Airlines which as an airline from the wider region would be expected to extensively cover Eastern Africa.
Negotiations are reportedly also ongoing to conclude a bilateral air services agreement between South Sudan and Turkey which would provide the legal foundation to establish flight links between the two countries.
Turkish Airlines now operates a fleet of 200 aircraft and has in November become the airline to fly to the most countries in the world, but has plans to double the fleet over the next 10 years, facilitated by a new mega airport outside Istanbul, which will become THY’s new hub. Turkish is presently in strategic talks with Germany’s Lufthansa for a closer cooperation, with the word ‘merger’ appearing more than once over the past weeks and has in recent years become a key member of Star Alliance, the world’s leading aviation alliance. Watch this space.