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Turkish Airlines Reaches Milestone Achievement: Carries One Billionth Passenger

The lucky billionth passenger was rewarded with a million miles during a ceremony in Istanbul

by Fergus Cole

April 25, 2023

Photo: Turkish Airlines one billionth passenger. Courtesy of Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines, a carrier that takes pride in the number of passengers it serves, celebrated its one billionth passenger this week with a ceremony in Istanbul.

Mustafa Balcı was identified as the airline’s billionth passenger during a domestic flight from Istanbul Airport (IST) to Adıyaman Airport (ADF) in the southeast of Turkey on Monday, April 24.

The lucky passenger was welcomed at IST – the airline’s primary hub – with a special ceremony, and he was gifted with one million miles.

“It is a great honor for me to be the one billionth passenger of Turkish Airlines and to be rewarded with a special gift for it,” said Balcı. “This experience will be an unforgettable memory for me.”

Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier of Turkey, has been in operation for almost a century, having been founded in 1933 with an initial fleet of just five aircraft. Since its inception, the airline has grown into one of the biggest in the world in terms of passenger numbers, fleet size, and destinations served. It became a member of Star Alliance in 2008, with other members including renowned carriers such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines.

Much of the carrier’s rapid expansion has occurred over the last two decades. Using its geographically-important base at Istanbul Airport to connect passengers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the airline grew its fleet from 60 aircraft in 2003 to over 100 in just three years. It is set to receive its 400th plane later this year.

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

As of April 2023, Turkish Airlines flies to more than 340 destinations worldwide, while it plans to extend its network to reach 400 destinations by 2033. It also has plans to double the size of its fleet over the next decade to an astonishing 800 aircraft.

“Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, carried its one billionth passenger today,” said Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat, Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee at Turkish Airlines. “We are filled with great pride and happiness for carrying our one billionth passenger.

“Our brand, which has reached one billion passengers in 90 years, aims to reach its two billionth passenger in 2031, 8 years from now. I would like to thank all our passengers who have shared this joy with us and all my colleagues who have contributed to this success.”

Turkish Airlines is the ninth biggest airline in the world in terms of fleet size, with no less than 411 aircraft, including 278 narrowbody planes, 111 widebodies, and 22 freight aircraft, with a range of models from both Airbus and Boeing.