MELBOURNE Airport has come out on top after battling it out with Sydney to secure Turkish Airlines’ inaugural flights to Australia. The announcement is “huge win for Victoria”, according to the state’s Minister of Jobs and Industry Natalie Hutchins, while the airport’s Chief Executive Officer Lorie Argus expects the direct flights between Melbourne and Istanbul to “open up huge opportunities for Victorian travellers and exporters”.
The Turkiye flag carrier, which flies to more countries in the world than any other international airline, will operate three services each week beginning 16 March, with the possibility of increasing to a daily service in the future. The flights will add 109,5000 seats to Melbourne every year, boosting Victoria’s access to key European, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and African markets via the airline’s hub in Istanbul.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) said the service will play a vital role in further restoring the state’s international tourism, with CEO Felicia Mariani enthusing that “the decision by Turkish Airlines to launch their first-ever flights to Australia with direct services to Melbourne is a strong reflection of their confidence in our destination to be a viable and successful partner in this corner of the globe”.
“Melbourne Airport has already reached the pinnacle of being the first Australian airport to exceed its pre-pandemic international seat capacity, and the addition of Turkish Airlines to that performance means we continue to lead the nation in taking our destination to the world,” she added.
Visit Victoria also lauded the new service, with Chief Executive Brendan McClements expecting the flights to bolster the state’s visitor economy, which hit a record-breaking $26.9 billion in expenditure for the year ending September 2023 – up 30% on the previous year.