Turkish Airlines plans to start non-stop flights between Bush Intercontinental Airport and Istanbul next year, the Houston Airport System announced in a press release.
It would appear that not even fellow Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines is buying United's gloom-and-doom predictions about Houston "losing its competitive edge" as an international air hub now that Southwest will be offering international flights out of Hobby. More likely, the Turkish flag carrier took note of the amount of economic activity that occurs between Houston and Istanbul (the two are sister cities) and decided that nonstop service between the pair made financial sense:
The announcement comes three weeks after Council approved an expansion of Hobby Airport to accommodate plans by Southwest Airlines to start commercial international flights from that airport in 2015.
United Airlines had argued strenuously that the expansion would hurt the city’s economy by diverting international air traffic from Bush that all of the airlines depend on to support marginally profitable flights. In fact, the day Council approved Hobby expansion, United announced it would reduce its Houston-area staff by 1,300 employees and that it was canceling its planned service to Auckland, New Zealand.
Turkish Airlines, on the other hand, will start the new route with a Boeing 777-300ER, which seats up to 334 passengers.
“The total Houston to Turkey trade value in 2011 was $3.6 billion,” said Celil Yaka, President of Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce. “We anticipate this trade will grow significantly thanks to this new flight.”Service will begin on April 1, 2013 with four flights a week. I've always wanted to visit Istanbul, so perhaps this service will be of use to me someday.