Turkish Airlines has passenger flights to 50 African airports; Libya has returned; narrowbodies are vital

Turkish Airlines inaugural cakes

Turkish Airlines serves 50 African airports on a passenger basis. It has a much larger network than other key competitors. For example, Emirates serves 20 airports, Qatar Airways 29 and British Airways and Lufthansa 12 each. Only Air France, thanks to the extensive Francophone Africa, comes close with 40.

The Turkish flag carrier’s African network is considerable. It is helped by its geographic location and one-stop routes, just like many other airlines operating to Africa. Of course, one-stops add complexity and costs. However, Turkish Airlines’ 2033 strategy report showed that it hopes to only have non-stop flights by then.

Narrowbodies play a vital role. Analysing Cirium data shows that about two-thirds of its African flights use single-aisles, especially the 737 MAX 8. At 5,440 kilometres, its longest non-stop African route on the type is to Dar Es Salaam. The A330-300 is the most common widebody.

Turkish Airlines passenger network

Turkish Airlines returns to Libya

Libya, in North Africa, was once an important part of the Star Alliance carrier’s network. Benghazi, Misurata, Mitiga, Sebha and Tripoli TIP were all served historically.

According to Cirium data, Libya was Turkish Airlines’ third most-served African country in 2014 after Egypt and Tunisia. That changed in early 2015 when the carrier ceased all remaining flights due to civil war and consequent security problems.

After more than nine years, Turkish Airlines returned to Libya on 28 March 2024. For now, it only operates 3-weekly from Istanbul IST to Mitiga, about 10 kilometres from downtown Tripoli, the capital. It is one of five airlines with non-stop flights on the airport pair.

Shannon AIrport

Turkish Airlines inaugural flights

Passenger service to 50 African airports

The return of Mitiga meant that Turkish Airlines’ African passenger network reached 50 destinations – two fewer than in 2019. Other recent additions include Luanda (2021) and Juba (2022). According to the airline’s investor presentations, it hopes to fly to Aswan, Brazzaville, Hargeisa, Lome, Monrovia, Port Sudan and Windhoek in the future.

Its African network involves 38 countries. It has more destinations in Egypt (four) than anywhere else, followed by Algeria, South Africa and Tanzania (three each) and Cameroon, Morocco and Nigeria (two each). As in most years, Cairo is the number one destination. Turkish Airlines has 28-weekly flights in July, along with 21 by codeshare partner EgyptAir.

North Africa accounts for around 36% of its S24 African capacity, almost identical to the 35% of Central and Western Africa. They are trailed by East Africa at 22% and Southern Africa at just 8%. It is hardly surprising why it uses so many narrowbodies.

Top 10 Turkish Airlines African destinations S24

Thirteen airports have been removed from its network

Using Cirium to compare the operator’s passenger African network in 2024 to 2004-2023 shows that the following airports no longer see its aircraft. The stated year refers to the last time it was served. All the destinations that ceased in 2020 joined Turkish Airlines’ network in that year or in 2019. They may return.

  • 2023: Khartoum (Sudan); suspended
  • 2020: Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), Mombasa (Kenya), Luxor (Egypt), Port Harcourt (Nigeria)
  • 2019: Moroni (Comoros)
  • 2016: Batna (Algeria), Kano (Nigeria), Tlemcen (Algeria)
  • 2015: Misurata (Libya)
  • 2014: Benghazi (Libya), Tripoli TIP (Libya)
  • 2013: Sebha (Libya)

Shannon Airport