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New Turkish Airlines Subsidiary Receives Air Operator Certificate

AJet will be a standalone airline instead of operating under Turkish Airline's operating certificate

An Airbus A321 is revealed painted in AJet’s future livery. (Photo: Turkish Airlines)

AJet, a proposed low-cost airline owned entirely by Turkish Airlines, has received its Air Operator’s Certificate. This allows the carrier to launch operations as its own standalone company.

“All application processes of our subsidiary AJet for obtaining an Air Operator Certificate within the framework of the Regulation on Commercial Air Transport Enterprises was completed and AJet was granted an Air Operator Certificate by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (SHGM) on 02.01.2024,” Turkish Airlines said.

The company is the successor to AnadoluJet, which launched operations in April 2008. The distinction between the two is that AnadoluJet is an incorporated brand name – AnadoluJet’s branding notes that it is “A Trademark of Turkish Airlines” – whereas AJet will be an entirely new, standalone airline that simply happens to be owned by Turkish Airlines.

Launching the new carrier will allow AJet to simplify its services by consolidating into an all-economy-class configuration. Turkish Airlines hopes that this distinction will make air travel accessible to more people by using operational efficiencies to lower ticket prices.

“After years of enjoyable travel under the AnadoluJet name, the AJet brand is not just a new name; it is also the name of a transformation that carries the promise of serving passengers with modern and accessible prices,” AJet wrote on its social media channels when this change was initially announced last year.

“In line with our goals for the next 10 years, we are proud to have started the establishment process of our AJet. The efforts and dedication we have put in for a long time have paid off, and we will introduce AJet to the skies with the summer schedule at the end of March 2024,” Turkish Airlines’ Board Chairman, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat, said in November, when the rebrand was announced.

“We fully believe that AJet, with its new name, will become an important part of the cost-effective aviation industry on global scale,” Bolat continued.

Practical Questions for AJet’s Operation

Turkish Airlines hopes it will be able to grow AJet to a fleet of 200 narrowbody aircraft by 2033; AnadoluJet currently operates 87 aircraft. This will help AJet to become a major player in the low-cost market in the region and around the world.

It is not entirely clear which fleet Turkish Airlines will choose for AJet. AnadoluJet operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing narrowbody jets. Historically, a defining feature of successful low-cost carriers is fleet commonality, or flying just one family of aircraft. This reduces cost by reducing the complexity that would otherwise come with training pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, ground handlers, and more on multiple different types of aircraft.

Turkish Airlines has confirmed that AJet will benefit from a recent order Turkish placed for 220 aircraft last month. That order includes 150 Airbus A321neos, potentially hinting at what may comprised the backbone of AJet’s fleet.

A Competitive Low-Cost Market

AJet’s most notable competitor will be Pegasus Airlines, currently the largest low-cost airline in Turkey. Pegasus appears on the brink of a significant expansion, having just received its first Airbus A321neo. The carrier will likely be receiving A321neo jets into the 2030s, putting it in position for a long-term modernization and expansion that will pose significant challenges to a new market entry.

Also in the market is SunExpress, a holiday airline founded by a joint venture between Turkish Airways and German counterpart Lufthansa. SunExpress primarily focuses on bringing passengers to beach destinations for holidays.

Major flag carriers have historically struggled with creating low-cost subsidiaries. In the United States, each of the big three airlines has tried and failed to create a low-cost subsidiary that was viable long-term. However, Turkish Airlines’ version has some benefits, most notably its focus on fleet and cabin standardization. Equally important is the route network it creates for AJet; being able to offer cheap flights to niche markets has proved one of the most effective ways to succeed in the low-cost space, and if Turkish can identify the proper markets to send AJet to, the carrier may prove quite successful.

John McDermott
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  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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