Turkish Airlines to purchase 36 Airbus and 15 Boeing aircraft

ANKARA (AP) -Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), announced yesterday that it plans to buy 36 Airbus and 15 Boeing passenger aircraft. Turkish Airlines will purchase 15 Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft, five Airbus A-330-200s, 12 Airbus A-321-200s and 19 Airbus A-320-200s in the largest expansion in the company’s history, it said in a statement. Turkish Airlines gave no details on the cost of the new fleet, but Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday that Erdogan and French President Jacques Chirac agreed in principle on the purchases of the 36 Airbus planes at a cost of around $1.5 billion (1.2 billion euros). At the international air show in Farnborough, Britain, Airbus’s CEO Noel Forgeard told reporters the catalog price for the planes Turkish Airlines plans to buy is more than $3 billion, Dow Jones Newswire reported. He declined to comment on what discounts the airline may have negotiated. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Paris on an official visit, was expected to oversee the signing of a preliminary agreement for the purchase of the Airbus aircraft later yesterday. Turkish Airlines’ current fleet has 65 aircraft. The company said the 51 new aircraft would be added to the fleet starting in 2005 and deliveries would end in 2008. The last time the company expanded was in 1997. Turkey was forced to put new purchases on hold following a deep economic crisis in 2001. The company statement said Turkish Airlines decided «to expand its fleet following profits which reached $200 million last year.» It said demand for seats on international lines had increased by some 25 percent and 100 percent on domestic lines. It did not specify a timetable for the expansion. Turkish Airlines carried some 10.5 million passengers last year, the company said. It expects to carry 12 million by the end of the year and some 20 million after the new planes join its fleet. Turkey has become a major tourist destination in recent years.