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Turkish Airlines History


The State Airlines Administration was founded in connection with the Ministry of Defense. With one of Turkey’s first aviators, Fesa Evrensev, as its chief executive, the organization’s initial budget was TRY 180,000. The personnel totaled 24 people, including seven pilots,eight mechanics, eight clerks, and one radio operator.

The first fleet had two 5-seater King Bird aircrafts, two 4-seater Junkers F-13s, and one 10-seater ATH-9.


Chief Executive Fesa Evrensev was succeeded by retired Pilot Officer Aynî Bey.


The State Airlines Administration came under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Works.


Şevket Arı became chief executive.

The purchase of new stock brought the total number of aircraft to eight and the total seats to 64 and the budget rose to TRY 1 million.


The State Airlines Administration took on a new name, the State Airlines General Directorate, and came under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport.

Retired Pilot Staff Colonel Ferruh Şahinbaş took over as chief executive.


Six D-Havilland Domini aircraft were added to the fleet.


Five Junkers-52 aircraft were added to the fleet. The total number of seats increased to 185.


With the addition of 30 Douglas DC-3s and three C-47s, the total number of aircraft rose to 52 and the seating capacity reached 845. The expansion of the fleet also allowed the number of flight destinations to increase from 3 to 19.


The total passenger numbers had reached 18,000 in 1945, but with the purchase of further new aircraft in 1946, this number rose to 37,000.

The State Airlines General Directorate was renamed the State Airlines Administration General Directorate and retired Pilot Colonel Osman Nuri Baykal was brought in as chief executive.


The first international flight took place, flying from Ankara to Istanbul and on to Athens. Advertising and promotion began to increase in importance as part of a drive to increase the number of passengers.


The fleet, which now had 33 aircraft with an overall seating capacity of 720, began to fly to new destinations such as Lefkoşa (Nicosia), Beirut, and Cairo.


Flights for the hajj pilgrimage began, providing pilgrims with a speedier and more comfortable alternative for their journey.

The construction of the international airport envisaged by the Chicago Agreement was completed in the Yeşilköy district of Istanbul and opened to international traffic. The airport was equipped with an international standard runway, modern passenger terminal, maintenance hangars, and an electronic radio system.


Rıza Çerçel was appointed to the General Directorate.


With the passing of Statute No. 6623, the name of the State Airlines General Directorate underwent another change, this time taking on its present name of Turkish Airlines.


Turkish Airlines Inc. reached TRY 60 million in capital.

Turkish Airlines joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a body set up to facilitate airline collaboration in commercial, technical, administrative and economic issues, and prevent unfair competition.


Turkish Airlines opened its doors to foreign investment. The British airline company, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), became a partner, buying a 6.5% share. BOAC Chief Executive Sir George Cribbett was brought onto the Turkish Airlines Board of Directors.

Turkish Airlines became a member of Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), a provider of telecommunication services to airline companies.

In 1957, the total number of aircraft in the Turkish Airlines fleet was 28, with 19 DC-3s, seven Heron passenger aircraft, and two C-47 cargo airplanes.


Five Viscount 794 aircraft joined the fleet. The shift from piston to jet engines heralded a new era in the civil aviation history. The number of passengers doubled from the amount in 1956, reaching a total of 394,000.


Sales offices opened in Rome and Athens.


Six F-27 aircraft joined the fleet. Frankfurt was added to the Ankara-Istanbul-Athens-Rome international service.

The first transatlantic flight


The opening of the Ankara-Istanbul-Vienna-Frankfurt route brought the number of weekly flights to three.

Chief Pilots Zihni Barın and Nurettin Gürün spent 30 hours crossing the Atlantic to bring two F-27s from the United States to Istanbul.

The Turkish Airlines emblem, designed by Mesut Manioğlu and known as the “wild goose”, came into use.


Retired Major General Şahap Metel was appointed chief executive. The number of aircraft in the fleet rose to 34, bringing the seating capacity up to 1,120.


Routes to Brussels, Munich, and Tel Aviv began.


Service to Amsterdam, Belgrade, and Tabriz began.


On August 18, the first DC-9 aircraft, registration number TC-JAA, was hired and became part of the fleet.

The first international jet service took place on the Ankara-Istanbul-Brussels route. Services to Zurich, Budapest, and Geneva began.

A new agreement was signed with the company Petrol Ofisi for the supply of aircraft fuel.


The company’s capital increased from TRY 90 million to TRY 200 million.

The second DC-9 aircraft, registration number TC-JAB, joined the fleet.


New route to Cologne began.

Three McDonnell Douglas DC-9s were added to the fleet.


Two more DC-9s were added to the fleet.


Service to Düsseldorf and Stuttgart began.

The fleet now totaled 22 aircraft, with three Viscounts, seven F-27s, eight DC-9-30s, and three B-707 jets, giving it a seating capacity of 1,961.


New routes to Hannover and Hamburg began.

With the addition of two more DC-10s to the fleet, the total seating capacity rose to 2,669. The company’s capital increased 100% from 1968, rising from TRY 200 million to TRY 400 million.


Another DC-10 was added to the fleet. The journey that had begun 40 years previously with a modest 24-person staff was now well on its way with a much larger family of 4,437 people.

Five more F-28s joined the fleet, bringing the total fleet to 26 aircraft.

New routes to Copenhagen, Berlin, and Nurnberg began.

The total number of passengers, which had reached 528,000 in 1967, rose to 2.5 million in 1973.


The fleet further expanded with the addition of four B727-200s.

Cyprus Turkish Airlines was founded as a 50% partnership with Turkish Airlines.

Three McDonnell Douglas DC-10s were purchased. Turkish Airlines was the first company in Europe to buy the twin-aisle aircraft with seating capacity for 345 passengers.

New routes to the Middle East


A survey was carried out to research the requests and criticisms from domestic passengers.

The Ministry of Finance passed Resolution No. 53315/6967, renationalizing Turkish Airlines, which had been opened to foreign investment 20 years earlier.

The Ministry of Finance bought out the BOAC's shares.


New routes to Baghdad, Tehran, and Tripoli began.

The total number of aircraft was now 22, with a seating capacity of 3,306.

The number of passengers carried neared 3 million.


Service to Cairo began.


Turkish Airlines was by now a significant international outfit, with 27 aircraft, 3,909 seats, and 5,375 staff.


In its 50th year, the fleet of 30 aircraft with a seating capacity of 4,037 carried 30,000 tons of cargo and 2.5 million passengers across 3 continents.

The total number of employees rose to 5,775.

The monthly journal, Turkish Airlines Magazine, went into publication.


The company capital, which had jumped from TRY 60 million in 1955 to TYR 20 billion in 1984, was now TRY 60 billion .

Turkish Airlines officially became a state-owned enterprise.


Four Airbus A310s were added to the fleet, opening up new Far East and transatlantic routes.

Efforts began to roll out a First Class service to all destinations, starting with London and Jeddah.

The Electronic Data Processing Center at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport went into operation, allowing all reservation and missing baggage procedures to be performed electronically.


Service to the East Asia began with flights to Singapore.


The company’s capital had by now reached 150 billion TRY.

The start of services to New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, and Lyon brought the number of international routes to 42.

The number of passengers carried was now over 1 million on domestic flights and over 3.5 million passengers in total.


Three A310-300s were added to the fleet. Routes to Helsinki, Tunis, Algeria, Oslo, Basel, and New York were opened.

Flights to New York made North America the fourth continent to be served by Turkish Airlines.


The new BAHAMAS Baggage Handling System was implemented in order to speed up baggage processing times. New services began to Tokyo, Bangkok, and Moscow.

The fleet was expanded with 2 new Airbus aircraft.

The Turkish Airlines Magazine was renamed Skylife.

Sun Express was founded, with Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa owning joint equal shares.


The company’s capital was by now 700 billion TRY.

A 1.53% share in Turkish Airlines was put on sale to the public as part of a privatization program.

The company was affiliated to the State Partnerships Administration.

New routes opened up to Benghazi and Budapest.


B-737 aircraft were added to the fleet. Capital reached 2 trillion TRY.


The number of destinations rose to 78, with 55 international routes and 23 domestic services.

The fleet was rejuvenated, reducing the average aircraft age to 6.2 years old. A-340-300 and RJ-100 aircraft were added to the fleet.

The fleet was augmented further with 11 Boeing 737s and 2 Airbus 340-300s.

The addition of Airbus 340s heralded the start of both direct flights to Tokyo and also a 3-tier service provision with First Class, Business Class, and Economy Class fares now available.


Company capital rose to 6 trillion TRY.

Another A340-300 joined the fleet. Statute No. 4046 was passed, bringing Turkish Airlines into the Turkish Republic Prime Ministerial Office of Privatization and giving it a new status as a state-owned enterprise.


First Class travel was offered on A-310-318 aircraft.

The company’s capital reached 10 trillion TRY.

Three B737-400s, two RJ-100s, seven B737-400s, and three RJ-100s were added to the fleet.

The domestic network was expanded to include Çanakkale, Bodrum, and Tokat, whilst international routes to Osaka and Tirana also went into service.

Three B-727-200s were converted to cargo aircraft.


The Turkish Airlines website was launched at

The company’s capital had by now reached 50 trillion TRY.

New domestic routes opened to Konya, Sinop, and Kahramanmaraş, along with new international services to Tbilisi, Sarajevo, and Johannesburg.

A fourth A340-300 was added to the fleet and 4 B-727-200s were taken out of service.

Airbus named Turkish Airlines as the winner of its award for the airline making most effective use of the A340 worldwide and also appointed Turkish Airlines staff as Airbus training pilots.


A fifth A340-300 became part of the fleet.

On October 31, a block space agreement was signed with Japan Airlines for the Istanbul-Osaka-Istanbul route.


A partnership agreement was signed with the 5 large European airlines of the Qualiflyer Group.

Block space agreements were signed with Austrian Airlines for flights to Vienna from Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Similar agreements were signed with Swissair for Istanbul flights to Zurich, Geneva, and Basel, and also for its Izmir flights to Zurich.

Other block space agreements were made with both Croatia Airlines for the Istanbul- Zagreb-Istanbul route, and with Japan Airlines for its Istanbul-Tokyo-Istanbul route.

Six new generation B-737-800 aircraft were added to the fleet.

As the organization that had brought the most foreign currency into the Turkish economy, Turkish Airlines took first place in the Golden Plaque Awards presented by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.


Nine more B737-800s and a sixth A340-300 aircraft were purchased, making Turkish Airlines a 75-craft fleet, with 3 different aircraft models, carrying 10.6 million passengers a year.

A codeshare (joint) agreement was signed with Malaysia Airlines for the Istanbul-Kuala Lumpur-Istanbul route.

The company’s capital rose to 175 trillion TRY.


The fleet was expanded with 7 B-737-800s and A340-300s.

The codeshare agreement with Austrian Airlines came to an end.

A block space agreement was signed with Asiana Airlines for its Istanbul-Seoul-Istanbul route.

The first commercial flight to Sidney took place for the Olympic Games.

Codeshare agreements were put in place with American Airlines, providing connections from New York, Miami, and Chicago to 10 US domestic destinations.

The special passenger program, Miles&Smiles, was launched.

More codeshare agreements were signed for the following routes: Istanbul-Hong Kong-Istanbul (Cathay Pacific Airlines), Istanbul-Warsaw-Istanbul (Air Poland), and Istanbul-Prague-Istanbul (Czech Airlines). Routes to major Far East destinations including Shanghai and Seoul went into service.


Two more B-737-800s joined the fleet and 6 A310-200 aircraft were sold to Iran Air.

A codeshare agreement was signed with Sun Express for its Antalya-Frankfurt-Antalya route.

Flights to Ankara began from Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul.

The Turkish Airlines’ central call center opened for service at +90 212 444 0849.


The fleet was expanded with 2 B-737-800 aircraft.

The service to Pristina began.


Routes to New Delhi and Sivas went into service. A codeshare agreement with Air India led to the establishment of the Istanbul-New Delhi-Istanbul service.

eTickets and online check-in became available.


The number of passengers carried exceeded 12 million.

Boeing signed a 10-year maintenance contract with the Turkish Airlines Technical Maintenance Center.

The Customer Relations Online Care Service was launched at, aiming to facilitate the processing of customer suggestions and complaints.

The Association of European Airlines’ consumer report ranked Turkish Airlines second, amongst all European Airlines, for punctual takeoffs and the least incidences of missing baggage.


The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) annual inspection report found that a large number of workshops and units in the Turkish Airlines Maintenance Center were achieving a zero fault level.

Routes to Casablanca, Lisbon, Oslo, and Astana went into service.

Associate Professor Dr. Temel Kotil became Chief Executive of Turkish Airlines.

Flights to London Stansted Airport began from Istanbul and Antalya.

Pre-tax profits reached 27.5 million TRY.

In the Joint Aviation Authority Maintenance Approval Standardization Teams (JAA MAST) inspection of aircraft safety in Turkey, Turkish Airlines achieved the Highest Performance Report for Technical Maintenance and Repairs.

New price options became available for passengers.

The largest procurement in the history of Turkish Airlines took place. Fifty-nine new aircraft were purchased for the fleet, consisting of 36 Airbus A-330-200, A-321-200, and A-320-200 aircraft, and 23 B-737-800s from Boeing.

A decision was taken to open 23 new international routes.

Another decision led to the establishment of the Turkish HABOM maintenance hangars, Turkish Airlines Technic, and Turkish Airlines Training.

The first 3 of the 59 aircraft ordered from Airbus and Boeing arrived: a new generation Boeing 737-800, an Airbus A320, and Turkey’s first Airbus A330.


The Miles&Smiles passenger advantage program began, offering members 4 card options with different features.

The fleet acquired its 100th aircraft.

The decision was made to join Star Alliance, the global airline confederation, with Turkish Airlines signing up to the group’s preliminary protocols.

New routes opened to Ljubljana, Abu Dhabi, Dushanbe, Rostov, Sana’a, Donetsk, Tabriz, Kazan, Belgrade, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Muscat (Doha connection), Venice, Dublin, Riga, Addis Ababa (Khartoum connection), Sudan Khartoum (Addis Ababa connection), Yekaterinburg, Dnepropetrovsk, Mumbai, Minsk, Osaka, and Lagos.

Turkish Airlines successfully passed an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) inspection, making it the first IOSA Operator in Turkey.

The central call center began to offer a ticket purchase facility.

The Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Turkish Airlines Technical Design Office opened as part of the ITU Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In line with its ethos of “quality” and “people first”, Turkish Airlines set out to improve its on-board catering services by signing a new partnership agreement with Do & Co PLC. Turkish Airlines Technic PLC was set up with capital of 271,325,800 TRY.

Turkish Airlines held a 100% share in the company which consisted mainly of aircraft technical hardware and components.

Turkish Airlines achieved the ISO 9001:2000 standard.

The Chief Executive of Turkish Airlines, Temel Kotil, was selected for the IATA Board of Governors.

Direct flights to Singapore began.

An agreement was signed between Turkish Airlines and Kenya Airways, marking the opening of the new Nairobi-Istanbul-Nairobi route.

A new online service went live, allowing passengers without baggage to download a printout of their boarding passes.


New routes opened to Nevşehir, Batum, Hatay, Medina, and Eskişehir, along with a new Istanbul-Johannesburg-Capetown service.

Turkish Airlines won the airline industry’s National Quality Award.


The establishment of Anadolu Jet made travel between Anatolia and Ankara much easier.

More new routes opened to Aleppo, Merzifon, Sinop, Birmingham, and Baghdad.

Turkish Airlines joined the global airline confederation, Star Alliance.


The "Feel Like A Star” advertising campaign was launched.

New routes went into service, flying to Uşak, Çanakkale, Ufa, Mashhad, Dakar, Sao Paolo, Benghazi, Gothenburg, Toronto, Lviv, and Jakarta.


More routes opened to Accra, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Nakhichevan, Podgorica, Sochi, and Washington.

Turkish Airlines was awarded the Skytrax Best Economy Class Airline Catering award.


More routes opened to Guangzhou, Shiraz, Valencia, Erbil, Toulouse, Malaga, Genoa, Basra, Thessaloniki, Naples, Najaf, Kabul, Suleymaniah, Islamabad, and Turin.

The Turkish Airlines corporate website was launched with a new interface at

Turkish Airlines took the task of being Europe’s youngest and most modern fleet a step further with the addition of its 200th aircraft. The establishment of an IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved training center was a first in Turkey. Passengers voted Turkish Airlines “Europe’s Best Airline” in the Skytrax Awards. It also won “Best Airline in Southern Europe” and “Best Premium Economy Seating” for its Comfort Class service. The inflight Wi-Fi service for passengers began.


Turkish Airlines earned the title of the airline that flies to more destinations than anyone else in the world. The Globally Yours motto was changed to Widen Your World. The motto was launched, in different countries across the world, with a new commercial starring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi. The Los Angeles launch was joined by famous basketball player, Kobe Bryant. With a passenger count of 48 million, Turkish Airlines became Europe’s second biggest passenger carrying airline. It was voted Skytrax “Europe’s Best Airline” for the third consecutive time and also received the Skytrax “World’s Best Business Class Airline Catering” award. As part of the 2013 European Tour Final Series, which took place in Turkey, world famous golfer Tiger Woods putted a shot from Asia to Europe across the Bosphorous Bridge in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines became a sponsor of the German football giant and Bundesliga champion, Borissia Dortmund, as well as its official airline. A sponsorship deal was also signed with one of England’s most established football clubs, Aston Villa, for the 2013-14 season. The airline signed a Euroleague Basketball sponsorship deal, which will continue up until 2020. The special passenger lounge, Lounge Istanbul, was opened at Atatürk Airport, providing increased travel comfort to Elite and Elite Plus Card holders and Business Class passengers.


As in the past three years, Turkish Airlines once more won the Skytrax “Europe’s Best Airline” award. “There’s no point in being the airline that flies to the most destinations in the world if there are still places in Turkey that we don’t fly to...” This was the message of the “Dreaming” commercial that broke viewing records on the internet during this year. The Turkish Airlines “Widen Your World” commercial featured Didier Drogba and Lionel Messi. The commercial made Didier Drogba into an ambassador for the new Turkish Airlines brand. A Turkish Airlines documentary was aired on Nat Geo People and National Geographic channels, giving millions of viewers the opportunity to witness the complexities of providing a service to so many passengers, both on the ground and in the air. The Sky Illusion sleep set became available for passengers on long haul flights. This year marked the start of the travel blog, in which cabin crew and Turkish Airlines staff across the world share their thoughts and views. It was also the start of the TourIstanbul service set up to help passengers make good use of their waiting time. The virtual store opened up for business, allowing passengers to spend their Miles online. German, Japanese, Arabic, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian languages were added to the online shopping service which was already in Turkish and English.


The Arabic Call Center went into operation, providing an Arabic language service to 10 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Turkish Airlines entered the Guinness Book of Records by commissioning the building of the world’s tallest sand castle at Virginia Key Beach Park in Miami. A sponsorship deal was signed with UEFA as the “first ever official partner airline” for the UEFA EURO 2016 to be held in France. The airline became a sponsor of the 52nd Antalya International Golden Orange Film Festival. Turkish Airlines signed its name to İstanbul-Flow Motion, one of the most powerful films on Istanbul to date. It became an official partner of the European Rugby Champions Cup. According to BrandFinance’s Top 50 Airlines Report, the value of the Turkish Airlines brand rose from $1.6 billion dollars in 2012, to $2.2 billion in 2015. In 2015, the airline was also chosen as the “Best Investor Relations” in Turkey by IR Magazine. In the Skytrax Passengers’ Preference Awards, Turkish Airlines won “Best Business Class Lounge Catering” for the second time, “Best Business Class Catering” for the third time, “Europe’s Best Airline” for the fifth time and “Best Airline in Southern Europe” for the seventh time.