By SUCHAT SRITAMA
Before the agreement, about 2,000-2,500 passengers a year from Australia stopped over at Istanbul and flew with Turkish Airlines into European coun-tries. The THAI-Turkish deal is expected to boost the number of travellers from four airports in Australia to Europe via Istanbul to 10,000 this year and to 30,000 per year in the future.
The code-sharing agreement took effect on July 15 and the first flight under the arrangement was on September 12.
Under the agreement, Turkish Airlines operates a code-share flight between Bangkok and Istanbul, a destination THAI has no plans to add to its network. For its part, THAI operates code-share flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Temel Kotil, chief executive officer of Turkish Airlines, said Bangkok would become its regional hub in Southeast Asia while Istanbul would have a higher presence for travellers flying from Asia and Australia to Europe.
“The agreement will help us gain a lot more passengers from Australia from any carriers. It offers potential to add frequencies between Bangkok and Istanbul,” he said.
THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand said the agreement would help Thai Airways reduce operating costs for operations in Europe.
The company has no plans to serve Istanbul, but will still gain business from the European market.
He added THAI had revised its strategic plans for the coming year by shifting its focus to Asian markets.
“We will increase capacity [by adding more flights] in Asia and lower it in Europe by using smaller aircraft,” he said.
The code sharing with Turkish Airlines is part of THAI’s plans prepared for 2012.
The arrangement was suspended briefly during the flood crisis but has been restarted, Piyasvasti said.