United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, Emirates Airline is to boost capacity into Istanbul by adding another daily service into the Turkish city. The airline currently offers eleven weekly flights between its Dubai International Airport hub and Ataturk Airport, but from next month will complement this with a new flight to Sabiha Gokcen Airport.
The daily flight will commence from December 15, 2015 and will be operated using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a three-class layout offering seating for 12 passengers in First, 42 in Business, and 183 in Economy. The aircraft also has the capacity to carry up to 17 tonnes of cargo. The flights are currently only loaded in the GDS up until the end of the winter schedule in late March 2016, but the route is expected to be extended to year-round operation.
Located on the rapidly-developing Asian side of Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen has its own point-to-point demand into international markets and has seen growing connectivity due to the arrival of local low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines into the low-cost arena and recent expansion from Turkish Airlines due to capacity constraints at its main Ataturk Airport hub.
Emirates said it was attracted to the split operation in Istanbul and the added investment required by the carrier as it offers customers “a fresher travel experience, with shorter processing times”, but also “easier access” to the city’s new financial centre as well as to popular outlet malls and thermal spas in the vicinity. Passengers heading to the European side can also easily take advantage of regular coaches that operate between Sabiha Gokcen and Taksim Square every half hour, taking approximately 45 minutes.
“Istanbul has become an increasingly popular destination for Emirates, attracting both business and leisure travellers from around the world. By operating into two airports, we are enabling greater flexibility for our passengers, allowing them to fly into one airport and out of the other,” said Hubert Frach, Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial – West, Emirates Airline.
The UAE carrier will be the only scheduled operator of widebody aircraft at Sabiha Gokcen Airport, a destination also served by Gulf rival Qatar Airways from its Hamad International Airport hub in Doha, albeit using Airbus A320 equipment. “This is a clear sign of our commitment to the market,” added Frach.
Emirates will operate on the Dubai – Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen market alongside flydubai, its arms-length sister operation – which has served this market since December 2011. It will also compete with local Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines, which has offered low-cost, point-to-point flights since October 2012.
These airlines flew an estimated 165,000 two-way passengers on the route in 2014, up 22.9 per cent on the previous year. Alongside further stimulating this local demand, Emirates will provide new connecting opportunities to its wider network from Dubai International with the early morning arrival into hub enabling efficient connectivity to its network across Africa, as well as to key Asian destinations like Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Denpasar (Bali), and Phuket.
Here's Emirates' proposed schedule between Dubai and Istanbul from December 1, 2015...