New Route of the Day (29 December 2023): Air China between Beijing PEK and Istanbul IST
Air China inaugurated flights between Beijing PEK and Istanbul IST on Friday 29 December. The 7,080-kilometre service will be maintained 3-weekly, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, with the 237-seat A330-200 aircraft. The carrier will complement daily flights by its Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines on the route. Air China becomes the 100thcarrier to serve Istanbul IST
Flight CA859 departs Beijing PEK at 02:00 local time, arriving in Istanbul IST at 08:00 local time. The inbound service, operating as flight CA860, takes off from Türkiye’s largest city at 14:55 local time, arriving back in China’s capital at 05:30 local time the following morning.
What they said
Selahattin Bilgen, Acting CEO of operator İGA Istanbul Airport, said: “We are convinced that the flights connecting Istanbul and Beijing will foster diplomatic, touristic, and commercial ties between Türkiye and China. The total number of Chinese airlines operating at Istanbul Airport has now reached four. Our goal for the 100th anniversary of our republic, which we celebrated with joy, was to increase the number of airlines operating at our airport to 100, which we achieved! We have taken our place among the “mega hubs” that host the most airlines in the world.”
Istanbul IST now served by 100 carriers
Istanbul IST is now the third-largest airport in the world based on the number of airlines it serves. The only two airports ahead of it are Paris CDG and Bangkok, each with 105 airlines. Istanbul IST is now ahead of fourth-placed Dubai DXB with 96 airlines, and Frankfurt with 89 carriers.
During 2023, in addition to Air China, some 20 airlines inaugurated operations to Istanbul IST, including airBaltic, Air Samarkand, China Eastern, China Southern, easyJet, Dan Air, Fly Arystan, Israir, Karun Airlines, Korean Air, Medsky Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Southwind, Sun d’Or, Thai Airways, Ural Airlines, Yazd Airlines and Wizz Air.
Istanbul IST plans to add a further five new airlines to its portfolio in 2024, with Norwegian confirmed to be one of them with its new service from Oslo OSL.
Air China becomes fourth Chinese airline in Istanbul
Istanbul IST Is now served by four Chinese carriers including China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines. All four commenced operations to Türkiye’s largest city in 2023.Togeather, they operate 15-weekly flights to Istanbul IST, offering just over 8,300 seats.
In addition to Air China, China Southern Airlines operates 3-weekly flights from Beijing PKX, while China Eastern Airlines maintains 5-weekly rotations from Shanghai PVG. Furthermore, Sichuan Airlines runs 4-weekly flights from Chengdu.
On the other hand, Turkish Airlines currently maintains 21-weekly flights from Istanbul IST to China, serving Beijing PEK, Shanghai PVG and Guangzhou daily.