Aviation giant Turkish Airlines eyes Cork flights

Aviation giant Turkish Airlines is considering new flights out of Cork Airport.

The company — which boasts the world’s largest global network, flying to more than 230 international destinations from its Istanbul hub and which has over 200 aircraft on order — is also considering expanding its cargo flight operations out of Shannon Airport.

The news emerged yesterday as Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, announced two new UK routes from Cork-Southampton five times a week, and to Leeds Bradford three times a week from next summer.

Stobart is also increasing capacity on its existing Cork to Glasgow, Manchester, and Newcastle routes, which will require basing a third aircraft at the airport.

Murat Balandi, the general manager of Turkish Airlines in Ireland, said the company sees huge growth potential at Irish airports following the success of its twice daily Dublin-Istanbul service.

He said that with the right long-term strategic partnership, there is no reason why Dublin, Shannon, or Cork airports could not become major European hub airports like those in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris.

Mr Balandi said that while preliminary talks have taken place about new flights out of Cork, they are at an early stage.

However, he said that, given the region’s strength as a tech, pharma, and manufacturing hub, there was huge potential.

“Primarily we are looking for direct flights but when there is opportunity for the transit market, we look at that too,” said Mr Balandi.

He was speaking in Cork yesterday at the announcement of its cadet pilot training contract with Atlantic Flight Training Academy based at Cork Airport.

Mr Balandi also said there is scope for an expansion of its three weekly cargo flights service from Istanbul, via Shannon, to Chicago, New York, and Atlanta.

“The reason we put the cargo freighters via Shannon is to keep the business in Ireland,” he said.

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