Turkish Airlines has become the 20th member of Star Alliance, in the same year as it celebrates its 75th anniversary.
At celebrations in Istanbul this week, the carrier’s president and CEO Dr Temel Kotil referred to the inauguration of Turkish into Star as “the aligning of highways” with other alliance partners.
“Turkey serves as a crossroads from north to south and from east to west,” said Kotil. “There are 55 countries within three and a half hours of Turkey, and Turkish Airlines will add 31 unique destinations to the Star family.”
The carrier plans to launch 11 new destinations this year, which are likely to include Birmingham (its fourth UK route after Manchester, Heathrow and Stansted), Toronto, Washington, Sao Paulo, Aleppo in Syria and Ufa in Russia, although some of these routes have yet to be officially confirmed. Kotil said that the airline’s focus was also on “increasing frequency on existing routes in order to dominate these markets”.
Turkish was “mentored” by Lufthansa (a founding member of Star) during its 16-month joinng process, and Jaan Albrecht, CEO of Star Alliance, said that the airline was now “fully committed and fully compliant” to the high standards expected of alliance members.
Asked whether he saw a limit to the number of carriers in the Star Alliance (Egyptair and Air India are the next airlines due to join the fold), Albrecht said that there was “no magic number”, and that additonal members would be dictated by "market forces and feedback from customers".
Report by Mark Caswell