Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier of Turkey, has successfully commenced its long-awaited and much-heralded service between Istanbul and Melbourne, Australia. The start of the service means the carrier now serves 346 destinations across six continents in 130 countries.

The airline operated its first flight (flight number TK168) between Istanbul (IST) and Melbourne (MEL) on March 2, 2024. The service will operate three times per week initially, operating via Singapore (SIN). With the commencement of services, Turkish Airlines has also become the sole European airline currently flying to Melbourne.

“Today marks a monumental milestone for Turkish Airlines, as we celebrate the realization of a long-held ambition – to extend our reach to the Australian continent,” said Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat, Chairman of Turkish Airlines. “This achievement follows meticulous planning and extensive infrastructure developments, symbolizing the successful bridging of Istanbul with a new and vibrant continent.”

“The inauguration of our Melbourne route is a testament to our growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region and underscores our unwavering commitment to fostering connections between diverse cultures and communities across the globe. Australia, with its breathtaking landscapes and warm-hearted people, now becomes the 130th country to join our expansive network, signifying our presence across six continents. Through our unparalleled network, we are thrilled to offer our guests a gateway to global exploration, ensuring that our legacy of exceptional service quality continues to flourish in every corner of the world,” he added.

“Victoria is home to Australia’s largest Türkiye-born community, a big nod to our vibrant multicultural state,” said Victoria State Minister for Jobs and Industry Natalie Hutchins. “We look forward to creating easier connections for this community and boosting tourism with the arrival of Turkish Airlines.”

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Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said the airline’s entry into the Australian market provides new options for travelers and local exporters.

“Turkish Airlines has an extensive network and flies to more countries than any other airline so this new competitor in the Australian market is fantastic news for consumers. We’ve worked closely with the Victorian State Government to bring Turkish Airlines to Melbourne, and we now look forward to seeing them grow their services over the coming years,” Argus said.

“Increased competition helps put downward pressure on prices, which will ensure Victorian residents and businesses can stay connected with family, friends, and clients around the world. Melbourne is proudly home to the largest Turkish population in Australia, so we expect these flights will prove particularly popular with people looking to visit friends and relatives,” Argus concluded.

The flights between Istanbul and Melbourne are operated by Turkish Airlines’ 35-strong fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs. Each aircraft seats a total of 349 passengers in a two-class configuration featuring 49 lie-flat business class seats and 300 economy seats.

Although the airline has been vocal about commencing a second Australian service to Sydney, there is currently no official start date for such a service.

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