Swiss has become the latest in a growing list of airlines who have decided to either suspend, cancel or reduce capacity to Istanbul.
According to routesonline.com Swiss International Airlines will temporarily suspend its six-weekly Zurich to Istanbul service between October 30 of this year and March 25, 2017.
Swiss, which is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is following at least another four airlines who have either suspended or completely cancelled their Istanbul services.
The recent terror attacks both in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey have led to a decline in passenger traffic.
A couple of months ago both Iberia and US carrier Delta suspended flight operations and they were followed this month by China Southern.
Last week The Taipei Times reported that the Taiwanese carrier EVA Air has just suspended operations to Istanbul – even though this is a route that EVA Air launched only a few months ago with high hopes of expanding its global presence.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued an “orange alert” for Turkey following the failed coup in Ankara. The orange alert means that visitors coming from Taiwan should be highly cautious and avoid unnecessary travel to Turkey.
With Asian travellers notoriously cautious when overseas it would appear there will be little demand for EVA Air’s service.
Emirates also says it is to reduce capacity to Istanbul by withdrawing flights to the city’s secondary Sabiha Gokcen airport, despite the fact that they were started only last December.
In a statement emailed to Business Traveller, Emirates says, “We are suspending services to Sabiha Gokcen from August 1. This decision was made as part of our routine operational review, to ensure that our capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand across our global network. We remain committed to Istanbul and will continue to serve its main airport with 11 weekly flights.”
One would suspect other foreign airlines may well adjust their Istanbul flight schedules in the months ahead. Much will depend on the future situation.
Swiss is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group and a fair number of its passengers will be connecting off long-haul Swiss flights from North America, Asia and so on.
So some passengers will be inconvenienced. However, judging by past experience, in such a situation Swiss passengers will be protected on flights operated by other members of the Lufthansa Group or fellow Star Alliance carriers.
For now Turkish Airlines continues its regular operations. But one must remember that Turkey’s national airline is a major sixth freedom carrier and therefore many of its passengers are flying through, rather than to or from, Istanbul.