TURKISH AIRLINES: Barbie to promote March 2024 launch of Australian Route
Board Chairman Ahmet Bolat has announced that Turkish Airlines is in negotiations with Margot Robbie to be the face of the advertising campaign for the new Istanbul to Australia route via Singapore.
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Route to commence in March
His statement also indicates that the route will connect in the second half of March 2024:
“We will commence flights to Australia between March 15 and 25, 2024. We are currently in discussions with Australian actress Margot Robbie. We plan to bring her to Türkiye a week before the flight and explore various places, including the historic site of Göbeklitepe.”Ahmet Bolat quoted in Hurriyet Daily News
But the logistics for passengers are not great, even if you get to spend time in what is regarded as one of the world’s best airports at Changi.
10-hour layover in Singapore
According to Bolat, the current proposed flight schedule would involve a 10-hour stopover in Singapore before the final 7-hour journey to Australia. HB-IWC on Airliners.net has noted the suspension of bookings for some flights to Singapore:
TK has closed for sales the flights TK208 IST SIN on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Friday, March 15 onwards. Similarly, flights TK209 SIN IST have been closed for most sales on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Sunday, March 17. This seems to indicate that these flights will be extended to Australia trice weekly. If TK keeps its current schedule, that would indicate an extension to MEL because curfew restrictions would make SYD impossible.HB-IWC
That leads the contributor to predict that the schedule will look something like this, which does not contemplate a 10-hour layover:
Istanbul to Singapore – Leaving IST 1630 – arriving in SIN 0750+1 day on Mon. Wed. and Fri.
Singapore to Melbourne – Leaving SIN at 0920, arriving MEL at 1945 on Tues. Thurs. and Sat.
Melbourne to Singapore – Leaving MEL at 2200 – arriving SIN at 0240+1 Day on Tues. Thurs. and Saturday
Singapore to Istanbul – Leaving SIN at 0410 – arriving in IST at 1055 Wed. Fri. and Sun.
There is still speculation whether the first Australian destination for Turkish Airlines will be Melbourne, Sydney, or both at once. If the 10-hour stopover in Singapore is correct, then it still leaves the choice of Melbourne and/or Sydney options open. The extended layover would allow the flight to Australia to miss the Sydney curfew. My bet will be on Melbourne, given its airport’s 24-hour operation.
Turkish tourism targets
Chairman Bolat in November said that the airline with the Tourism Ministry had identified ten target tourist markets, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan, from which to draw up to 10 million tourists.
Australia has significant populations with Turkish Cypriots, Greeks and Macedonian heritage, which could form the core of an estimated 500,000 to 600,0000 tourists travelling from Australia to Türkiye.
Margo Robbie, as well as being a fine actress, starred in the highest-grossing film of 2023 – ‘Barbie’. That makes her a coveted promotion asset for anyone. She also happens to be Australian, beautiful, charming and talented, which also helps.
The fly in the ointment will be those transit times in Singapore. I quite enjoy a 4 or 5-hour transit time. Six hours is a stretch, and 10 hours would, in most cases, make me choose another airline. Of course, that kind of issue can be combated by competitive pricing.
At the moment, you can get a return Economy fare for a little over AU$2,500 in March 2024 on Malaysian/Turkish, Thai, Qatar and Emirates, with layovers maxing out at just over 4 hours. Oman Air, with 2 stops is even cheaper at around AU$1500.
In Business, you can get a fare for under AU$7,000 with two stops on a Thai/Oman Air ticket, or under AU$8,000 with Malaysian/Turkish. Emirates, Thai and Qatar are over AU$10,000 for business.
With a 10-hour layover in Singapore, Turkish Airlines would need to price its fares at the lower end of those ranges.
Given that Türkiye is one of my favourite destinations, I say, bring it on!