Tour operators and airlines add capacity as bookings soar

The current strong recovery in bookings for Turkey is prompting German tour operators and airlines to increase capacity for summer 2018 holidays.

March 01, 2018
SunExpress will expand Germany - Turkey capacity by 20% this year
Photo: SunExpress

Germans will be back on the beaches on the Turkish Riviera this summer as the country makes a strong comeback on the German market. Turkey dropped back to third place behind Spain and Greece in the destination ranking for German package holidaymakers last year as bookings slumped for the second year in a row.

But, according to market researchers GfK, Turkey bookings in travel agencies and online have doubled so far this year compared to last year. Similarly, figures from leading reservations provider Traveltainment showed that bookings of package holidays with Antalya as the destination airport doubled in January compared to 12 months earlier, and increased by 36% in December and by 49% in November.

These booking figures confirm recent comments from tour operators about Turkey’s strong recovery on the German market. DRV president Norbert Fiebig said: “For 2018, we are seeing the comeback of Turkey.” However, although bookings and sales revenues have doubled compared to last year, they are still well below the peak levels of 2015, he noted.

Thomas Cook’s Turkey specialist Öger Tours currently has double-digit growth figures, including stronger bookings through travel agencies than through online channels, in contrast to last year.

“Turkey is celebrating a comeback. We are seeing very satisfactory booking trends with a double-digit increase for the summer season compared to last year,” said managing director Songül Göktas-Rosati. She pointed out: “Our Turkey bookings at the counter are currently about 15% higher than online bookings. We can see that our travel agency partners have regained trust in the destination.” Many regular customers and families are returning to Turkey thanks to “the very good value for money” and “the excellent Turkish hospitality”, she explained.

In response, Öger Tours, which already increased capacity by 20% for this summer compared to last year, is adding even more. From May, the tour operator will add 25,000 seats, mostly from Düsseldorf, Cologne and Leipzig and primarily on Condor flights. Parent company Thomas Cook has also expanded capacity to Turkey, mostly on Condor flights to the Turkish Riviera.

DER Touristik also reported a clear recovery for Turkey. “Turkey will be the comeback destination in summer 2018,” predicted René Herzog, CEO Central Europe. “We have always stayed loyal to Turkey. But even we were surprised by the overwhelming flood of bookings for Turkish holiday destinations since the start of the year.”

In response to heavy demand, Germany’s third-largest tour operator has added more exclusive full charters to Antalya this summer. There will be five extra weekly flights to Antalya from Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Leipzig on top of its existing flight programme.

Other tour operators already reported strong booking increases in January. TUI said it had a 70% surge in bookings and announced it would increase flight capacity from Germany to Antalya by 100,000 seats. Specialist Bentour and FTI are also seeing good demand for Turkey at present.

Among airlines, Sun Express, the market leader on Germany – Turkey routes, plans to increase capacity in its main market by 20% this summer, according to CEO Jens Bischof. The Lufthansa – Turkish Airlines joint venture already increased passenger numbers by 10% and revenues by 19% last year.

Azur Air will operate daily flights to Antalya and Majorca from Düsseldorf, and several weekly services from Hanover, Berlin-Schönefeld and Munich this summer along with flights to Hurghada in Egypt and Enfidha in Tunisia.

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