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The History of Turkish Airlines

by Parastoo Sahebi
9 minutes read

The history of Turkish Airlines comes back to the first half of the 20th century. This airline is the largest and main transit contractor for the arrival and departure of Turkish air passengers and has flights to more than 200 international airports in the world. With 247 flight routes, this company is the fourth largest company in the world in terms of flight routes and the third largest airline in Europe after Air France and Lufthansa in terms of passenger traffic. In this article from Eligasht, We will fully explain the history of Turkish Airlines.

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History of Turkish Airlines: 20th century

Turkish Airlines was established on May 20, 1933, under the name of the ‘State Airlines Administration’. Airline planes were very limited at first in the history of Turkish Airlines. In 1935, the airline was renamed to ‘General Directorate of State Airlines. After the World War, Turkish Airlines used several Douglas C47 aircraft for domestic flights. In 1947, after establishing domestic flights, the airline started to establish international flights (Ankara-Istanbul-Athens). Gradually, the number of international destinations of Turkish Airlines increased and Beirut and Cairo were also added to this list. This was although, until the beginning of the 1960s, the main focus of the airline was on domestic flights.

In the year 1965, the Turkish government changed the name of the airline to ‘Turkish Airlines’ and this airline became a member of the International Air Transport Organization (IATA) in the same year. A year later, British Airways (BOAC) began providing technical support to Turkish Airlines, and this issue continued for the next 20 years.

Little by little, new and updated planes were added to Turkish Airlines. The first jet aircraft used in the history of Turkish Airlines was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 in 1967.

In the 1980s the airline became famous for delayed flights and poor customer service. Also, between 1974 and 1983, several air accidents happened to Turkish Airlines planes. The most disastrous of these incidents was Flight 981. Turkish Airlines Flight 981 was a system flight from Istanbul Yesilkoy Airport (Ataturk Airport) to London Heathrow Airport with a stopover in Paris. On March 3, 1974, the McDonnell Douglas plane used for this flight crashed into a forest called Ermenonville near Paris due to a technical fault, killing all 346 people on board.

With the establishment of the new government in Turkey in 1983, the need to connect the country with other countries of the world and the importance of Turkish Airlines doubled. Gradually, the airline was equipped with modern and advanced planes. Safety was given special attention and Turkish Airlines faced very positive and fundamental changes.

We can add to the history of Turkish Airlines that By the mid-1980s, the number of airliners reached 30. In those years, Turkish Airlines transported 3 million passengers to 16 domestic destinations and several foreign destinations throughout the year.


History of Turkish Airlines: 21st century

In 2000, a new terminal was built at Atatürk Airport (which is now closed) and Turkish Airlines made many efforts to expand its international flights. In this way, this company signed agreements with reputable airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, Czech Airlines, etc which was new in the history of Turkish Airlines. Antalya-Frankfurt route was added to the list of international flights of this company in 2001.

In 2004, Turkish Airlines registered a very large order including 36 Airbus jets and 15 Boeing jets. Of course, Turkish Airlines didn’t just buy planes but also spent a lot of money on technical and training equipment.

In the same years, Turkish Airlines faced new competitors. Turkey’s tourism industry grew very much; The expected number of tourists in 2003 was twelve million and in 2005 it was estimated to be twenty million. In 2004, 36 Airbus and 15 new Boeing aircraft were purchased by this company. but Although Turkish Airlines was well known in those years, 98% of its shares belonged to the government. The process of privatization in the history of Turkish Airlines started in 2004. Today, 49% of this company’s shares belong to the government and the remaining 51% belong to individuals.

At the end of 2013, the number of flights this company grew significantly by increasing the number of its routes to 241 destinations in the world.

After Lufthansa Holding, Turkish Airlines has the largest air fleet in the world and has flight routes to 290 destinations around the world. This company started its amazing growth in 2014 and is currently one of the top airlines in the world.

In 2016, the website world Airlines awards, which ranks airlines in the world, chose Turkish Airlines as the seventh-best airline of the year.

In 2017, Turkish Airlines signed a new agreement with TSA Pre✓, which will save passengers time and passengers will not have to remove their personal belongings during security checks. This will also reduce the amount of stress on passengers and was a great improvement in the history of Turkish Airlines.

In 2018, Turkish Airlines continued to grow by handling 75.2 million passengers (9.5% growth compared to last year) and expanding its network to the fourth largest airline in the world with the largest number of countries and international destinations worldwide. It also ordered 30 Airbus A350-900s and 30 Boeing B787-9s to be delivered between 2019 and 2023.

In April 2019, the airline moved to its new hub, Istanbul International Airport. In June, Boeing took delivery of its first B787-9 Dreamliner with an all-new business class cabin.

In September 2019, Turkish Airlines won the title of 5-star airline 2020 in the official Apex rating. APEX ratings are based on passenger feedback on the overall flight experience in terms of seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, Wi-Fi, and entertainment. This was an astonishing credit in the history of Turkish Airlines.

In February 2020, Turkey dropped 319 mines on the capital of Equatorial Guinea. This airline offers scheduled services to 126 countries more than any other airline.


Miles and Smiles

Miles & Smiles is the name of a new plan in the history of Turkish Airlines that has been established for its regular passengers. In this plan, passengers can use the miles obtained from the flights they have had with Turkish Airlines and all the members of the Star Alliance network. Classic Plus cardholders of the Miles and Smiles scheme will enjoy all the benefits granted to Star Alliance silver card holders. People who have the Elite and Elite Plus cards of this plan will also have the same benefits as Star Alliance Gold Card holders.

Awards won by Turkish Airlines

The best airline in Europe for four consecutive years by Skytrax, the best airline in Southern Europe, and the award for the best economy class seat in the world in 2011-2013 are among the honors of this airline.

In 2016, the airline won the “Airline World Skytrax 2016” award for the sixth consecutive year as the best airline in Europe. In the same year, it won three other awards: the best airline in Southern Europe, the best hospitality in business class, and the best hospitality in business class. Also, for the eighth consecutive year, this airline was chosen as the best airline in Southern Europe.

 Turkish Airlines logo

the first logo in the history of Turkish Airlines had a white background and red text, which was reversed in 2010. The writing of Turkish Airlines and the emblem of the bird are the characteristics of the planes belonging to this company.

Turkish Airlines logo

Turkish Airlines fleet

Turkish Airlines fleet is one of the youngest airlines in Europe, and the average age of its planes is about seven years. Turkish Airlines has decided to expand its fleet to 421 aircraft. The details of Turkish Airlines are as follows:


4 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 257,000 kg

Wing length: 60.30 m

Length: 63.68 m

Height: 16.99 m

Passenger capacity: 2700 people


30 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 233,000 kg

Wing length: 60.30 m

Length: 63.69 m

Height: 17.40 m

Passenger capacity: 289 people


20 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 233,000 kg

Wing length: 60.30 m

Length: 58.50 m

Height: 17.40 m

Passenger capacity: 220-250-281 people


66 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 89,000 kg

Wing length: 34.09 m

Length: 44.51 m

Height: 11.76 m

Passenger capacity: 194-180-178 people


29 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 73,500/77,000 kg

Wing length: 33.91 m

Length: 37.57 m

Height: 11.91 m

Passenger capacity: 159-150 people


14 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 70,000 kg

Wing length: 34.10 m

Length: 33.84 m

Height: 11.76 m

Passenger capacity: 132 people

B777-300 ER

33 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 351.534 kg

Wing length: 64, 80 m

Length: 73,90 m

Height: 18.60 m

Passenger capacity: 349-337 people


111 planes

Maximum take-off weight: 79,015/70,987/76,883 kg

Wing length: 34.31 m

Length: 34.31 m

Height: 12,548 m

Passenger capacity: 151-165-189 people


1 plane

Maximum take-off weight: 61.998/79.015/70.987/76.883 kg

Wing length: 35,80 m

Length: 33.60 m

Height: 12.57 m

Passenger capacity: 124-149 people


Maximum take-off weight: 85.139 kg

Wing length: 35,80 m

Length: 42.10 m

Height: 12.50 m

Passenger capacity: 151-169 people

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines flight destinations

The headquarters of Turkish Airlines is located in Istanbul, and Ataturk International Airport and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport are the hubs of this airline. Turkish Airlines has direct flights to 302 destinations in 120 countries of the world and with other airlines, including various flights with United Airlines, Air Canada, Thai Airways, and EVA Air.

Final words

In this article, we fully introduced you to the history of Turkish Airlines as one of the most famous and popular airlines in the world. With 319 destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Turkish Airlines is the fourth-largest airline in the world in terms of destinations. It also offers the most non-stop destinations from a single airport, more than any other airline in the world. Booking flights on this airline is also easy. You can purchase Turkish Airlines flights from London to Tehran route with the Eligasht website.

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