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Turkish Airlines overtakes Lufthansa to become Europe’s leading flag carrier


Turkish Airlines / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

Turkish Airlines has overtaken Lufthansa to become Europe’s largest flag carrier as measured by available seat capacity, with it increasing its seat offering by 1.6 per cent. This also makes it the continent’s third largest airline after Ryanair and easyJet.

Ryanair remains the top airline on the continent, with it growing its seat capacity by 7.6 per cent in Q2 2019, which represent just fewer than 2.88 million additional departing seats when compared to the same quarter in 2018.

Though EasyJet is growing slightly faster than Ryanair, but when it comes to net seat increase, it is only adding 2.17 million, less than the number being added by Ryanair.


The new development according to reports is at the instance of the airline’s preparation to switch operations from Istanbul Atatürk to the new Istanbul Airport, a report.

Presently, the carrier is operating from Europe’s newest mega-hub to the following international destinations: Ashgabat, Baku, Frankfurt, Kuwait City, London Gatwick, Moscow Vnukovo, Munich, Paris CDG and Tbilisi. It is also operating domestic services to 14 destinations.

According the report by AnnaAero, the fastest-growing airline among Europe’s top operators is Wizz Air, with it showing an 18 per cent rise in its departing seat capacity during Q2 2019, a result of it operating an additional 1.68 million departing seats.

Regarding the other end of the spectrum, Air France, SAS, Norwegian, Eurowings and Pegasus Airlines are all showing declines in the number of seats they are operating during Q2 2019, with Norwegian seeing the greatest cut at 5.0 per cent.

For Norwegian, its capacity has been reduced in the short-haul market, with it posting a 6.7 per cent cut in this sector. However, it does continue to push its long-haul agenda, with data showing that it has increased its long-haul capacity during Q2 2019 by 21 per cent.

The report notes that while this is impressive, the carrier’s long-haul operations still only account for 5.9 per cent of all seats it operates during the period, although this has grown from a share of 4.6 per cent posted in Q2 2018.

Though Turkish Airlines is operating 105 weekly departures from the airport, and it is expected to switch all services to the new facility on April 7, 2019. The airlines is set to grow its seat capacity by 1.6 per cent in Q2 2019, with this growth pushing it ever so slightly ahead of fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa to become Europe’s leading flag carrier.

With the North Hemisphere summer season launching tomorrow, has decided to look at Europe’s biggest airlines to see how they are developing in the market, and to show which are the continent’s fastest-growing nations in S19 regarding scheduled seat capacity.

As schedules for the second half of the summer are still being adjusted, with some carriers still confirming new services starting from the middle of the season, this analysis is only looking at the second quarter of 2019 (April 1 till June 30) compared with the same period of last year.

Overall, seat capacity across Europe is set to increase by 3.0 per cent (10.94 million added seats) in Q2 2019, with 377.33 million scheduled seats on offer.

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