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Which international airline flies to the most countries?

January 15, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The biggest airline in the world, in terms of number of countries served, is adding more destinations – yet it’s not Emirates or any other Gulf carrier. It’s not an American airline; it’s not British Airways or Lufthansa or any European carrier – it’s not Chinese. So which is it?

The answer is Turkish Airlines. As of this month, January 2020, Turkish Airlines serves 126 countries. The totals for other big airlines in the league are: 91 countries for Air France, 87 for Qatar Airways, 85 for Emirates and 81 for Lufthansa.

Wikipedia’s list of Turkish Airlines destinations (in August 2019) is here. It has grown since.

Last month, Turkish Airlines launched a new flight route to Rovaniemi, Finland. Located on the northern polar line, Rovaniemi is one of the most popular destinations for viewing the Northern Lights.

Turkish Airlines is now the first airline outside of the European Union to have scheduled flights to Rovaniemi and the only airline to offer business class service to the destination.

For travellers planning a trip to see the natural phenomenon in Rovaniemi, the Northern Lights are best viewed on clear nights between late August and early April. The variety of its winter activities makes Rovaniemi one of the most popular winter tourism destinations, while it offers different options to its guests from all over the world with eco-friendly glass igloos and ice hotels.

On 30 December 2019, Turkish Airlines added Xi’an, the Chinese city with 3000 years of history, to its flight network on December 30. Xi’an became the flag carrier’s fourth destination in Mainland China and the 318th destination in the world. The flights will be operated three times a week with the Airbus A330 aircraft.

Above (L-R): M. İlker Aycı, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, and Hu Heping, Secretary of the Shaanxi Province Party Committee, on the occasion of Turkish Airlines announcing a new service to the Chinese city of Xi’an.

In August 2019, Turkish Airlines flew to 50 domestic and 242 international destinations (excluding those only served by Turkish Airlines Cargo).

The Turkish government owns about half the airline’s shares, so some of the destinations may be politically handy as well as useful in transport terms. Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Niger, Yemen – you might think not a lot of people want to go to those places, but sometimes the volume of traffic is surprising. Turkish Airlines also offers lots of flights to Germany and Russia, where people very much want to go.

Other than destinations in Turkey, the continents with most destinations for the airline are Europe with 107 (including Transcaucasia, Cyprus and Siberia), Asia with 64, Africa with 52 (including Sinai Peninsula) and the Americas with 19.

Outside Turkey, the countries with the largest number of airports served by the carrier are Germany with 14; Russia with 10; Italy and the United States with 9; France with 8; Saudi Arabia and Ukraine with 7; Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Spain and the United Kingdom with 5 each.

Turkish Airlines’ inaugural flight is welcomed to the Chinese city of Xi’an

As of August 2019, Turkish Airlines operated scheduled services to 315 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, making it the largest mainline carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations. The airline serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in the world.

Written by Peter Needham

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