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QANTAS/TURKISH AIRLINES: Qantas will not oppose Turkish Airlines flying into Melbourne and Sydney

QANTAS/TURKISH AIRLINES: Qantas will not oppose Turkish Airlines flying into Melbourne and Sydney

Several outlets, including SkyNews and The West Australian, are reporting, based on an AAP story, that Qantas will not oppose the Turkish Airlines application to fly into Australia.

Turkish Airlines has submitted an application to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to fly into Melbourne and Sydney. It proposes to commence operations from December this year (2023).

This is different to their attitude to an application by Qatar Airways to double the number of weekly flights to Australia’s major capital cities We know Qantas either implicitly or explicitly lobbied the Transport Minister, Katherine King against such an expansion.

It looks like the new CEO Vanessa Hudson has thought, in the current climate of whirling prosecutions and negative PR, its better for Qantas, to stay silent. Any new airline on a route is a threat. But maybe Turkish Airlines using Istanbul as a hub into Europe is less of a threat to Qantas and its partnership with Emirates, using Dubai as a hub.

a sign in a building


Turkish Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance network. And you can currently book tickets between most Australian capital cities and Istanbul. However, because Turkish Airlines currently doesn’t fly into Australia, you will travel on a different airline between Australia and Asia. Transit cities could include Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore. And the corresponding partner airlines might include Garuda, Malindo Air, Qantas or Thai Airways.

Details of the Turkish Airlines proposal

Turkish Airlines plans to fly into either Melbourne or Sydney from Singapore with a Boeing 787, three times/week. Which city was scheduled to be decided in mid-August, and its looking like Melbourne won. Tickets are not currently for sale, so a December start might be being a little optimistic.

Turkish will seek ‘fifth-freedom’ rights to sell Singapore to Australia leg as a separate fare. The Chairman, Ahmet Bolat thinks that will be crucial to the economics of the route.

Flights will gradually increase to five days, and then daily over an expected period of two years. Turkish Airlines won’t start servicing the second Australian capital city until flights are running daily to their first chosen destination.

Turkish Airlines already flies daily to Singapore using Terminal 1.

The eventual aim – meaning in the next decade, is to fly direct between Istanbul and Australia direct. They will choose between an Airbus A350-1000ULR, (direct route is five years), or the yet-to-be-launched Boeing 777X, (seven years away.

A lot can change in close to a decade . . .

Sufi whirling dervishes, Istanbul
Whirling Sufi dervishes, Istanbul [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Turkish Airlines Cabins

Their Boeing 787s have 30 flatbed business class seats using the same ‘regional business class’ design as used in some Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-10s. Turkish Airlines’ business class service is highly regarded due in part to their onboard chefs – who are actual chefs as opposed to flight attendants with Toques.

For your 21-odd-hour flight between Australia and Istanbul, their Boeing 787 have flatbed business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration providing privacy and direct aisle access. The seats also come with an 18-inch video screen and free wifi.


Miles&Smiles is the frequent flyer loyalty program run by Turkish Airlines. You can request a status match by signing up for the Miles&Smiles program and then requesting the match on the airlines’ Feedback page. You may be eligible if you have Emirates Skywards Gold or Platinum, Etihad Airways Guest Gold or Platinum, OneWorld Emerald, or SkyTeam Elite Plus,

Business Class checkin sign at Istanbul airport
[Adobe Stock]

2PAXfly Takeout

This is great news for those of us who want to travel to Türkiye – formerly known as Turkey, and even better news for the expatriate Turkish community.

The rollout of this new route is justifiably cautious, and allowing one route to Melbourne – is just sensible. Melbourne Airport operates 24 hours and doesn’t have the slot restrictions of Sydney.

On the stated timeline, if they commence a Sydney route, the Western Sydney International Airport, slated for a 2026 opening, might also be a possible destination.

I’m not so confident about the direct flights. That option, I think will depend on the success of rival Qantas’ whole Sunrise Project. If that proves successful, it may indicate an international trend to direct ultra-long-range flights, rather than the wheel and spoke model. And that is before adding in the current uncertainty of the Boeing 777X project if that is the aircraft Turkish Airways chooses.

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