SunExpress expanding services outside of Germany; UK up 70% in Q3 with Bristol and Newcastle added


SunExpress (IATA code XQ) is a joint venture between Star Alliance partners Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, founded as long ago as 1989. A German-based subsidiary, SunExpress Deutschland (IATA code XG) operated between 2011 and 2020. According to SunExpress currently has a fleet of 50 737s, a mix of 41 -800s and nine MAX 8s.

According to analysis of Cirium schedules data, around two-thirds of its capacity in 2023 Q3 involves either flights between Turkiye and Germany or Turkish domestic flights. However, while total seat capacity across all markets is up 11% versus 2022 Q3, international capacity to destinations outside of Germany has increased by 38%. This builds on significant growth in these other markets in 2022.

SunExpress international flights

UK sees significant growth in 2023

Outside of Germany, Switzerland and the UK are the next biggest country markets for SunExpress. While capacity on Swiss routes is up almost 20% versus 2022 Q3, UK capacity is up a massive 70%, with the airline having launched several new routes recently, including its first flights to Bristol and Newcastle. Its total planned UK offering this August is (weekly frequency shown in brackets):

  • Birmingham: Antalya (8), Dalaman (3 – launched 31 March 2023), Izmir (2, launching 26 May 2023)
  • Bristol: Antalya (3 – launched 26 March 2023)
  • Edinburgh: Antalya (5)
  • London LGW: Antalya (11), Dalaman (5)
  • London LTN: Antalya (3), Gaziantep (1), Izmir (4)
  • Manchester: Antalya (14), Dalaman (7), Izmir (2)
  • Newcastle: Antalya (3 – launched 28 March 2023)

Despite offering 71 weekly flights between the UK and Turkiye in August, SunExpress ranks only fifth out of 10 carriers in the market. leads the way with 186 weekly flights, followed by Turkish Airlines (141), easyJet (134) and TUI Airways (108). However, it is bigger than Pegasus Airlines (67), British Airways (44), Corendon (32), Wizz Air (26) and Freebird Airlines (nine).

Top 15 SunExpress country markets

Dublin Airport

Several new country markets have been added by SunExpress this summer. These include Serbia, Albania (see below) and Georgia. However, Finland is no longer served as flights to Helsinki, offered last summer, have not been continued this summer.

Vienna is leading non-German airport

At an airport level, the leading non-German airports for SunExpress flights to Turkiye are still in German-speaking countries, Austria and Switzerland. Leading the way is Vienna, followed by Zurich and Basel. The leading airport in a non-German speaking country is Manchester, while two other UK airports, Birmingham and London LGW are also in the top eight.

Top 15 SunExpress airports

While Pristina in Kosovo is listed as a ‘new’ destination versus 2022, the airline confirms that it has previously served Pristina with full charter operations which were not listed in Cirium data. Apart from already mentioned Bristol and Newcastle, other new airports for the airline this summer are (weekly frequency in August and launch date shown in brackets):

  • Athens: to Izmir (2, 2 June 2023)
  • Barcelona: to Izmir (1, 4 June 2023)
  • Krakow: to Antalya (3, 3 May 2023)
  • Tbilisi: to Ankara (1, 5 June 2023), Antalya (2, 28 May 2023), Izmir (2, 3 June 2023)
  • Tirana: to Antalya (6, 2 June 2023 – previously operated as full charter)
  • Venice VCE: to Izmir (2, 4 June 2023)