The History of Turkish Airlines

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Turkish Airlines was first established in the year 1933 and back then was known as Devlet Hava Yollari, a department of Turkey’s Ministry of Defense. Its fleet was made up of a handful of four- to ten-seat aircraft. In the year 1935, the ministry of the public took over the administration and it became part of the ministry of transportation.

Turkish airline benefited greatly after the war, from the United States aid program and Pan American, all its previous airplanes were replaced with a new fleet of Douglas DC-3’s, at the time Turkish airlines became larger than any airline carrier in the Middle East.

Turkish Airlines made its first-ever International flight in the year 1947,  its route was Ankara, Athens via Istanbul. Later on, it expanded its route network to cities such as Beirut Lebanon, Cairo Egypt, and Nicosia Cyprus.

In the late fifties, the fleet was again upgraded to new Viscounts and Fokker F27’s and in 1967 it operated its first-ever jet plane the DC-9, and in 1971 it leased the Boing 707 and the addition of other jets such as DC-10 and the Boing 727.

During the late 70s and early 80s Turkish airlines went through very difficult times, numerous hijackings, a reputation for delays, and bad customer service plagued the company. It wasn’t till 1983 when the new government realized the importance of Turkish Airlines as Turkeys Ambassador to the world, began the airline’s make-over to become more modern and well organized. At the time it had one of the youngest fleets in the world, and security was heavily intensified.

Turkish Airlines build a state of the art technical center in the year of 1984 in the Yesilkoy Airport that was able to perform light and heavy maintenance to its aircraft. Technical workers made up a quarter of the entire 6000 member fleet.

In the mid-80s Turkish Airlines had a fleet of 30 airplanes, and flew approximately 3 million passengers yearly to 16 different locations worldwide. At the time Turkish Airlines was the major source of foreign currency to Turkey.

In 1988 Turkish Airlines ordered a dozen new Airbus A310’s, 11 boings 727’s, and 9 DC-9’s. By the end of the 80s Turkish Airlines would have employed 8500 individuals.

Private investors took 1.8 percent of shares in a small public offering in November 1990. By the end of 1992, the company was capitalized at TRL 2.5 trillion. This allowed it to maintain a current fleet, operating Boeing 737s, Airbus A340s, and RJ-100s in the early 1990s. In fact, the airline’s fleet would double in size during the decade. Staffing levels would be kept around 8,000 employees, greatly increasing productivity.

The Turkish Airlines fleet includes 97 wide-body aircraft, 230 narrow-body aircraft, and 23 freighters, and flies to 321 destinations all over the world. In 2019, the civil aviation industry demonstrated a favorable performance, recording a net profit of USD 25.9 billion and thus generating a profit for the 10th consecutive year.

Today Turkish Airlines ranks 18th place out of 100, according to SKYTRAX.

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