Issue No. 887

Turkey's Rising Star

Turkish Airlines Is Larger and More Profitable Than it Was Pre-Pandemic

Pushing Back: Inside the Issue

It’s Turkey time. Not the bird, the country. Turkish Airlines and its low-cost rival Pegasus are giving thanks for an astounding set of summertime financial and operational achievements, earning monstrously large profit margins while growing capacity by double digits from their 2019 levels. In terms of passenger capacity, Turkish was 16 percent larger than it was pre-pandemic in the September quarter, and Pegasus grew by 17 percent. With Istanbul as a powerful hub, and Antalya one of the world’s busiest beach markets, Turkey is emerging as a superstar in the realm of aviation.

That was once the storyline of Dubai. The gleaming Gulf city remains a central stage for the industry, but its champion Emirates is a shrinking airline today, with just 80 percent of the flights it flew before the Covid crisis. Not so Ryanair, which continues to grow rapidly like Turkish and Pegasus. More importantly, like them, the Irish airline continues to earn spectacular profits. Give credit to Aegean Airlines too, which capitalized on booming summertime tourism to Greece.

Also last week, two of South America’s largest airlines reported results. Spirit Airlines is canceling routes. Norwegian startup Flyr is struggling to raise new capital. And Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific has a new chief. This week: Airlines and others from the industry will gather in Dallas.   

Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

Turkish Airlines had a blowout third quarter. The airline’s revenues and capacity are way up from 2019 with no pause in sight. Plus, Ryanair’s cautious outlook despite surprisingly robust travel demand. Listen to this week’s episode to find out. A full archive of the 'Lounge is here.

Weekly Skies

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary was his usual confident self on Ryanair’s competitive position in Europe, even as many of the airline’s competitors have become fodder for takeover chatter.

Sky Money

Spirit will raise $600 million in loyalty program-backed debt. The private placement is secured by the assets and intellectual property of the Miramar, Florida-based carrier’s Free Spirit and Spirit Saver$ Club programs. The three-year debt will carry an interest rate of…


Boeing inked several freighter orders last week. Emirates picked up five Boeing 777Fs with two aircraft due in 2024, and the remaining three in 2025. Emirates CEO Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the order "reflects Emirates’ confidence in airfreight…

Routes and Networks

Spirit Airlines has cancelled at least 35 routes from January as industry-wide issues take their toll on air carriers’ ability to recover — and expand — their schedules next year.

Feature Story

Turkish is having a moment. It’s a rare carrier that’s both larger and more profitable now than it was before the Covid crisis.   

By the Numbers

All data compares the fourth quarter of 2022 to the same period in 2019.