Turkish Airlines Expands Its London Area Operations

Turkish Airlines Planes

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines updated its London operations by 1. starting new flights from its hub at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and 2. moving from the North Terminal to the South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport (LGW).


New Flight – History

Back in February 2015, SAS transferred a landing and take-off right (”slot-pair”) at London Heathrow and generated a positive earnings impact of MUSD$ 60.

Currently Scandinavian Air Systems (SAS)(SK)  is using London (LHR) as a gateway to serve its Scandinavian operations from Copenhagen (CPH), Oslo (OSL), Gothenburg (GOT), Stockholm (ARN) and Stavanger(SVG) using a mix of Airbus A320 family aircrafts .

SAS Route Map to London

SAS Route Map to London – Image taken from SAS’ website on April 15, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

In a filing with the Borsa Istanbul on March 1, 2015,  Turkish Airlines (TK) announced that it was the buyer of SK’s pair of slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

Flight Information

Effective October 25, 2015, TK will use this afternoon slot pair for the Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) to LHR. This will increase its weekly frequency between the airports from 31 to 37 flights. The following infographic shows the route and aircraft information for this new flight:

IST to LHR Route Information

IST to LHR Route Information – data taken from airline and
Greater Circle Mapper’s websites on April 15, 2015 (All Rights Reserved).


IST to LHR Aircraft Information

IST to LHR Aircraft Information – data taken from airline’s website on April 15, 2015 (All Rights Reserved).

Note that Turkish Airlines operate two types of Airbus A321s. They have identical seating configurations. The main distinction is that older aircrafts features overhead in flight entertainment systems instead of audio video on demand. Aircrafts substitution may occur though it is much more likely that this premium route would likely get better systems.

IST to LHR Analysis

Overall seat capacity will increase by approximately 19% in both total and premium traffic. Turkish Airlines is using its largest narrowbody aircraft to maximize the number of passengers it can carry.

Move to South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport

At the end of March 2015, Turkish Airlines moved all its operations to the upgraded South Terminal (Check-in Zone E) to join its fellow Star Alliance partners: Aegean Airlines (A3), SWISS International Air Lines (LX), Adria Airways (JP), TAP Air Portugal (TP), Air Dolomiti (EN) and Croatia Airlines (OU).

As there is no Star Alliance specific lounge located at LGW, Business Class passengers / Turkish Airlines’ Miles and Smiles(R)’ Elite/Elite Plus members would be able to access the contract lounges – No.1 Gatwick or No.1 Traveller.

LGWS-Gallery-Lounge South Terminal

LGWS-Gallery-Lounge South Terminal – No.1 Traveller Lounge – Image taken from lounge’s website on April 15, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)


With the new changes, Turkish Airlines will operate 65 weekly flights from Istanbul (58 from IST and 7 from Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW)) to London (37 to LHR and 28 to LGW). This increases capacity by about 12% overall.  As LHR continues to experience slot restrictions, expect TK to expand through adding flights to LGW instead of buying more slots at LHR.

Final Call

Turkish Airlines looks to attract more passengers from the London area for onward journeys to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia by additional more flights to LHR.