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Turkish Airlines Postpones Mega Order for 600 Aircraft

The aircraft order, which was set to be the largest in aviation history, was delayed due to engine supply issues after its announcement in May

by Fergus Cole

August 16, 2023

Photo: Turkish Airlines. Courtesy of Samet Dayı / Unsplash

Turkish Airlines has postponed a historic order for 600 new aircraft due to several engine issues on both Boeing and Airbus planes.

The Turkish flag carrier planned to make history by ordering 600 aircraft in May. The official announcement was expected to be made during the IATA AGM in Istanbul and the Paris Air Show, held in June.

However, no official announcement was made at either event, and Turkish Airlines has now confirmed it has delayed the order due to growing issues related to engine production and quality.

Photo: Turkish Airlines, Airbus A350-900. Courtesy of TJ Bearfly.

As previously suggested by Turkish Airlines Chairman Ahmet Bolat, the historical order would include 400 narrowbody jets comprised of Airbus A320neos and Boeing 737 MAXs, as well as 200 widebody aircraft made up of Airbus A350s, Boeing 787s and 777-9s.

“While we are trying to decide on which aircraft type to place, we are also very close to investigating which engine types to get and which kind of a maintenance contract to get in addition to it,” said Murat Seker, Chief Financial Officer at Turkish Airlines. “That’s the reason why we have not announced any decision yet.”

Several issues have hampered aircraft engine manufacturers in recent months, partly due to the rapidly rebounding demand for air travel following the pandemic that is causing aircraft and engine manufacturers to struggle to keep up.

Photo: Turkish Airlines, Airbus A321neo. Courtesy of Airbus.

At the end of July, Raytheon Technologies (RTX)—the parent company of engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney—was forced to recall around 1,200 geared turbofan engines used for Airbus A320neo aircraft due to a “rare condition in powdered metal” that could mean some parts of the engine wearing out faster than intended.

RTX is set to launch an inspection of at least 200 of the recalled engines in September, and the investigation is expected to last for up to a year, which will inevitably cause even more backlog issues and delivery delays for airlines and operators.

These issues with Pratt & Whitney engines have also caused delivery problems for Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo, which has an outstanding order for around 480 aircraft, while fellow low-cost carrier Go First blamed Pratt & Whitney’s technical problems for its bankruptcy filed in May.

Photo: Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat

The decision to delay the historic order of 600 aircraft will no doubt impact Turkish Airlines’ ambitious plans for expanding its global network. While the airline is already the world’s largest commercial carrier in terms of the number of destinations served—which currently totals around 340 destinations across 126 countries—it has plans to serve 170 million passengers annually within the next ten years while doubling its fleet from almost 400 today to 800 by 2033.