Turkish Airlines Eyeing U.S. Expansion

Turkish Airlines recently launched their new route between Istanbul (IST) and Denver (DEN), the airline’s 14th route connecting their global hub in Istanbul to the United States. As part of the festivities regarding the new route, Turkish Chairman Ahmet Bolat indicated that the carrier is looking to expand further in the United States.

In an interview after the inaugural flight from Istanbul arrived in Denver, Bolat confidently stated that, “The number of destinations will go up to 20 in the U.S.” The airline already boasts one of the most robust global route networks and the airline is looking to expand further throughout the United States.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 777
Turkish Airlines is looking to expand to 20 destinations in the United States

Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, the worldwide alliance also counts United as one of the founding members, though the airline has shown a willingness to start service to rival alliance hubs. The airline flies to Atlanta (ATL), home of the world’s busiest airport and Delta’s headquarters, and Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), which is the home of OneWorld member American Airlines and their largest hub..

Turkish Airlines’ Massive Expansion Plans

Turkish has had its eye on expansion for a while and it has the aircraft orders to prove it. The airline has up to 90 (orders and options) Airbus A350 deliveries on the books and is considering adding the Boeing 777X. This will help bolster the airline’s expansion plans.

The Turkish flag carrier has identified a few routes that it is looking to pursue in the United States. According to Bolat, the airline is looking to launch flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Charlotte CLT), Philadelphia (PHL) and Orlando (MCO).

One thing that jumps out about this list is the fact that most of these airports are SkyTeam and OneWorld hubs. With the exception of Orlando, all of the identified airports are major hubs for Delta and American.

While Turkish is a member of Star Alliance, along with United, the airline has a massive global network with service to 130 countries. They fly to more countries than any other airline in the world and, like the ME3 (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar), connect passengers across the globe via their Istanbul hub.

Because of this, their focus is likely less on battling other airlines and more on which airports have the most traffic. If you’re doing the math, even with the potential future destinations, we’re still two short of the number identified by Bolat. So, what other airports could they add service in?

As much as I’d love to see the airline add flights to Austin, the next few airports that don’t have Turkish service based on traffic numbers are Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Las Vegas (LAS), and Phoenix (PHX). Turkish already serves Miami (MIA) so I doubt we see service to Ft. Lauderdale. Las Vegas and Phoenix seem like solid additions which gets us to the airline’s stated number of 20.

a sign with palm trees and buildings in the background with Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in the background
Las Vegas could be one of the next destinations served by Turkish Airlines


After adding Denver as the airline’s 14th destination, Turkish Airlines is eyeing more expansion in the United States. The carrier has stated its intention to add four new destinations with additional routes to be determined as they take delivery of new aircraft.

The airline seems to be taking an approach of adding flights in the markets with the most traffic instead of increasing frequencies to partner hubs. It will be interesting to see if the airline continues this trend as they work towards their goal of serving 20 destinations in the United States.

    1. US based carriers don’t want any more flights to China from non-US carriers. I believe China also has a rule limiting the competition for Chinese carriers.

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