The airline will use an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, configured with three cabin classes.
Turkish Airlines has been struggling with losses since the coup and terror attacks last year that have not only cut tourism to the country, but also discouraged passengers who previously used Istanbul as a gateway to connect with other destinations in Europe.
The Phuket flights have considerable risks for the airline financially as Phuket’s low season runs from May through to October, when heavy monsoon rain hits the west coast resorts of the island.
Usually airlines would launch a Phuket service in November to get off to a strong start with the hope it could build up enough interest to see it through the low season months usually on the back of cheap holiday offers.
Turkey has been hit by a spate of attacks blamed on Islamic extremists and Kurdish militants, while tourists were further spooked by the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the July 15 failed coup and the subsequent crackdown last year.
Turkish Airlines’ hub at the country’s main Istanbul Ataturk Airport was the scene of recent terror attacks.
Up until 2015, Turkish Airlines was a rising star in aviation, turning a profit on the geographical location of Istanbul promoted as the preferred gateway to Europe from Asia. The airline has for the past six years been the winner of the “Best Airline in Europe” award bestowed by global passenger survey organisation Skytrax.
Today, it faces heavy losses with no end in sight.
The airline has launched round-trip promotional fares, inclusive of all taxes, fees and surcharges, from Phuket to Istanbul from B23,400. Round-trip fares to other destinations throughout Europe are priced around B27,000.
The deal is similar to what Middle East airlines offer with a stop in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha and links to most major cities in Europe, but bookings must be made by February 15 for travel between July 17 and September 30 this year.