The president of Boeing believes Turkish Airlines will emerge as a rival to Emirates Airline.
Competition between the pair is likely to heat up further when Istanbul’s new Dh40.45 billion international hub opens next year.
"Turkey is a significant opportunity," Bertrand-Marc Allen, the president of Boeing International, said at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
“It has got the capability, the geographic positioning, the population, the culture to be a success and a source of a lot of growth over the next 20 years. It will introduce an interesting dynamic and another competitor in this hub strategy for aviation.”
The rapid growth of Turkish Airlines represents a challenge to the region's big three of Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, which are competing to establish international hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Turkish plans to invest $3.74bn this year on previously ordered planes to grow its fleet to 261 aircraft.
The carrier’s ambition is also reflected in the growth of its Istanbul base, which is mimicking the expansion of Dubai International Airport as an international hub.
Istanbul Ataturk Airport attracted almost 61.3 million passengers last year, while Dubai drew 78 million. Dubai expects to handle 85 million passengers this year.
With about US$35bn of investments, Istanbul's new airport will have six runways, 500 aircraft parking spots and the capacity to accommodate 150 million passengers.
“I think that Turkey is starting to rival the UAE airline and Turkey is doing very well,” said Mr Allen. “We are keen to watch this develop.”
Other regional hubs are also investing billions of dollars in airport expansion projects.
Qatar opened Hamad International Airport in 2014, while Abu Dhabi International said it would open its Midfield Terminal, a huge facility designed to handle 30 million passengers a year, in 2017.
Emirates this week said it was boosting capacity on its daily service to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, while Turkish Airlines announced plans to add two more European routes to Dubrovnik in Croatia and Kosice in Slovakia.
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