City Airport Boost As Turkish Carrier Begins Istanbul Route
By Neil Connor
Birmingham International Airport received a major boost yesterday with the news that a major airline will commence services from the hub to Istanbul.
The link up with national flag carrier Turkish Airlines will offer Midland travellers the first direct scheduled service to Istanbul from the region.
The five weekly flights, which will begin on December 15, will provide onward flight opportunities within Turkey, the Middle East and the Far East, through Turkish Airlines own established route network.
British low fares airline Monarch also yesterday launched a new twice-weekly service to Larnaca in Cyprus and increased flights to the Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Tenerife.
BIA chiefs remain optimistic that passenger numbers will increase following the partnership with Turkish Airlines, which is ranked alongside Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic by the industry in terms of service.
BIA’s business development director Peter Vella said: “This news is fantastic, not only because we can boast having one of Europe’s most established and highest quality airlines joining us, but also because the Midlands will have its first direct flight to the ancient city of Istanbul and the excellent range of onward connections across the Middle East and the Asian continent.”
Turkish Airlines will operate a 155-seat mixed configuration Boeing 737-800 aircraft, fitted with 20 seats in business class and 135 in economy.
Flights on Mondays and Thursdays will arrive in Birmingham at 1030 and depart to Istanbul at 1130. The remaining three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays will arrive in Birmingham at 1215 and depart at 1315.
Turkish Airlines director for UK Osman Battal said: “Not only can we offer air travellers in Birmingham and the wider region new direct flights to Istanbul, but we are also able to fly people to over 140 onward destinations including Bangkok, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Delhi, Bombay and Singapore.
“Although we will be launching in December with five weekly flights, we aspire to be operating daily services from Birmingham by summer 2009 and carrying 30,000 of passengers a year by this time.”
Monarch’s new Larnaca service will commence on Sunday March 29 next year and operate onWednesdays and Sundays. Monarch’s managing director Liz Savage said: “We are also delighted to be expanding our network to the Eastern Mediterranean with the launch of services to Cyprus from Birmingham.
“I am sure that the people of the Midlands will warmly welcome the introduction of this service.”
BIA recently reported a 2.8 per cent increase in passenger numbers for June, from 910,636 in 2007 to 936,868 this year. The hub also recently started the construction of a massive pounds 45 million state-of-the-art extension to Terminal One and plans to extends its main runway by 400 metres to allow non-stop flights to China, India and the American west coast.
Its expansion masterplan envisages increasing the number of jobs of BIA from the present figure of 10,500 to about 19,000 jobs by 2030, when it would generate an income of almost pounds 1 billion a year, nearly five times last year’s figure.
Under BIA’s own growth forecasts, it is expected the airport will cater for up to 27 million passengers a year by 2030 compared with about nine million today.
Fares from Birmingham with Turkish Airlines start from pounds 180 return, including taxes.
Bookings can be made by calling the airline’s reservations number on 0844 800 66 66, online at www.thy.com or through local travel agents.
Seats for Monarch flights are available to book now on www.monarch.co.uk
(c) 2008 Birmingham Post; Birmingham (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.