Turkish Airlines to increase flights between Hong Kong and Istanbul

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 4:27am

Turkish Airlines will increase its service between Hong Kong and Istanbul as passengers seek cheaper fares to Europe and more exotic destinations.

Approximately 40 per cent of the Hong Kong passengers who fly Turkish Air transit through Istanbul on their way to Europe, while 5 per cent use the city to reach the Middle East, North Africa, and South America.

Passengers using Istanbul as a transit point will likely increase to 60 per cent as the Hong Kong-Europe route is underserved, said Salih Kece, Turkish Air general manager for Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Many passengers halt in Istanbul because of the historical appeal of the ancient capital of the Ottoman Empire. Along with its convenience as a transit point, this has led to a stellar growth in passenger volumes between Hong Kong and Istanbul.

Turkish Air has reported a 16-fold growth in passenger volumes on the route in the past decade while ticket sales are projected to jump to US$50 million by the end of the year from just US$2 million in 2003.

Pricing has helped fuel this growth, and Turkish Air has priced its business-class tickets at some 40 per cent below Cathay's ticket prices. This means a direct business-class Cathay ticket on a Hong Kong-Frankfurt flight costs over HK$40,000, but just HK$23,000 if one is flying with Turkish Air via Istanbul.

Connectivity also matters. At present, there are just 12 direct passenger flights between Hong Kong and Europe, seven of which are operated by Cathay. "For the rest of Europe, passengers need to rely on transit flights," said Kece. Turkish Air, on the other hand, connects with over 80 European cities from Istanbul.