Turkish low cost carrier Pegasus is on track toCOVID-19 throughput levels throughout the year amid strong demand for inbound tourism, according to the airline’s new chief executive. Guliz Ozturk.
In conversation with FlightGlobal on IATA General meeting in Doha Ozturk cites “strong signals” about international traffic, specifically between March and May, which suggest Pegasus will have “a strong summer that leaves everything behind COVID-19 fears and influence.
Meeting this demand, Öztürk describes the growing fleet of Airbus A321neos as a “tipping point” in terms of unit cost, given that the type offers greater fuel efficiency and about 50 more seats than the smaller narrow-body aircraft it is replacing.
“Overall, this year we expect to hit 2019 levels in terms of throughput,” she says, as problems with the Omicron option earlier in the year are offset by stronger numbers in the second and third quarters.
Source: Billy Peaks
Inbound tourism is at the heart of the recovery in demand, Ozturk said, as the favorable exchange rate of many currencies against the Turkish lira is helping to make the country a particularly attractive holiday option.
“Turkey has always been a charming place for tourists” Ozturk states. “Now it’s much more accessible.”
Furthermore, Ozturk describes as a “differential factor” the “cost advantage” gained by having Pegasus book the majority of its international passenger revenue during COVID-19-19 recovery.
Against this trend, the aircraft carrier increased the number of aircraft based. Antalya – a popular direction of incoming tourist flow from Europe – from eight to nine toCOVID-19 until 15-16 today, she states.
Ozturk clarifies that this does not mean fleet cuts at other bases such as Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen as well as Izmir. Rather, “we are also expanding our fleet,” she says.
Generally, Ozturk explains that Pegasus currently operates a fleet of 91 aircraft to serve 125 destinations – 36 domestic and the rest international. These figures are up from 2019, when Pegasus served 111 destinations using 84 aircraft.
The carrier must accept 20 A321neos this year, Ozturk says, and 17 more in 2023 as the company retires older aircraft and continues on its path to becoming a full Airbus operator by 2025.
Today Pegasus says it works 46 A320neos24 Boeing 737-800 seleven A320ceos and 10 A321 neos.