Flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) and German airline Lufthansa’s joint venture SunExpress made a profit of 59 million euros ($65 million) despite the pandemic last year, after leaving behind a difficult year for the aeronautics industry.
The carrier, based in the tourist province of Antalya in Turkey, welcomed more than 6 million passengers on board in 2021 and the load factor was 75%, which is close to pre-pandemic levels.
SunExpress CEO Max Kownatzki, speaking at the press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday, said the airliner will continue its growth strategy in 2022 thanks to its solid financial structure.
“As one of the most important players in Turkish tourism, we have made great efforts to show that Turkey is one of the most attractive destinations for travel. We have made it possible to access the tourist centers of Turkey even during the most difficult times. We continued to bring families together and ensured that Turkish citizens living in Europe could reunite with their loved ones at home,” he said.
Kownatzki said the success they have achieved “is due to the swift and bold action taken by the Turkish government and relevant authorities, the personal dedication and commitment of our team members and our loyal passengers who have continued to trust us”.
SunExpress achieved the largest network expansion in its history with a total of 25 new routes and 16,250 additional flights for summer 2022. The airline now offers nonstop flights from more than 175 routes from Turkey to 60 destinations in 30 countries.
“While maintaining our position as the airline carrying the largest number of tourists to the Mediterranean and Aegean regions with direct scheduled flights, we are moving towards our goal of becoming the first Turkish tourist airline bringing the largest number of tourists to Turkey,” the airline’s CEO added.
“Turkey, which offers its visitors so many wonderful travel opportunities with its rich history and culture, unique cuisine and various climatic conditions at the same time, has a lot to offer not only in summer but also in other seasons. We will continue to work hard to make Turkey a country visited all year round by taking tourism beyond sun and beach holidays,” he added.
Kownatzki went on to say that Antalya, Izmir, Dalaman and Bodrum-Milas are the four main airports they focus on along the Turkish Riviera.
“Tourism demand continues to be strong as the summer season approaches. In 2022, we aim to increase our capacity beyond 2019 pre-pandemic levels to these coastal cities. In addition to the increased capacity, we are offering more connections to these cities with new international services.
In summer 2022, SunExpress will operate 33,000 flights in total from Antalya, Izmir, Dalaman and Bodrum-Milas airports. The airline said it flies from these airports to a total of 52 destinations, including the additional 20 new routes this summer.
Operating direct scheduled flights from 14 Anatolian cities to 18 destinations in Europe this summer with 1,250 more flights than last year, SunExpress’ five new international flights on the Anatolia-Europe network will be Ankara-Copenhagen, Samsun- Vienna, Zonguldak-Dortmund, Ordu-Dusseldorf and Kayseri-Vienna.
Kownatzki added: “We continue to bring home our Turkish citizens living in Europe and reunite them with their loved ones. In 2022, we will continue to support local tourism and the economy of Anatolian cities.
Stating that SunExpress has an undeniable role in enhancing Turkish tourism with its direct flights between Turkey and Europe, Kownatzki said, “Increasing our capacity and frequency, expanding our network and our newly added fleet, destinations and connections are all a reflection of our confidence in the strong recovery of Turkish tourism. We will do our part with more capacity than ever to help Turkey reach its tourism target in 2022.”