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MELBOURNE WILL join one of the largest airline networks in the world when Turkish Airlines begins flights from Istanbul in March.

Turkey’s national carrier has confirmed it has chosen the Victorian capital to launch its first flights to Australia.

The service will initially operate three times a week via Singapore, with the airline planning to fly directly between Istanbul and Melbourne upon the purchase of new aircraft with the capability to do so.

Turkish Airlines already flies to the most countries of any carrier in the world, including an extensive network through Europe and Africa. It will become the only European airline to fly to Melbourne.

“Istanbul is the only city to straddle two continents and has always been an important trading post, but it is now also one of the most important transit hubs in the world,” said Jim Parashos, Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation.

“We are thrilled to welcome Turkish Airlines to Melbourne, not only because of its world-renowned hospitality, but also because of the new possibilities it enables for travellers.

“Turkey is already a popular holiday destination, but we expect these new flights will encourage more Australians to explore what the country has to offer, while also enticing more people to visit our incredible part of the world.”

The first TA flight out of Melbourne is due to depart on March 2.

top idea for the top end

QANTAS HAS announced it is launching a second international route from Darwin, with direct flights from the Northern Territory to Singapore.

Commencing in December, the new flights will add more than 60,000 seats on the route each year and provide visitors to Australia with a convenient gateway to access to some bucket list Top End experiences.

The flights will provide Territorians with a direct Qantas option to Singapore and a seamless connection to London on QF1, as well as other destinations across Europe or Asia with partner airlines.

Qantas customers travelling from Darwin will save around five hours in flying time by no longer having to fly via other Australian capital cities to get to London.

Meanwhile the Flying Kangaroo has unveiled its new inflight safety video, the first new version since 2020.

It was shot over 40 days and across 14 destinations, including New Zealand, Mexico, South Korea, Morocco and Italy. Flyers will see some 75 versions covering 12 different languages.

more seats coming at a premium

EMIRATES HAS introduced a second premium economy service between Melbourne and Dubai.

Introduced on February 1, the new addition on EK408 and EK408 means the airline serves Australia with almost 3,200 premium economy seats.

The additional service is part of Emirates’ multi-million dollar retrofit program, where a total of 126 aircraft, including 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s, will be fitted out with premium economy cabins.

Currently, 22 A380s flying across the network have been fitted with the popular cabin class.

“As one of the most important markets in our global network, we are committed to offering Australians not only greater connectivity but also more choice and differentiated offerings,” said Barry Brown, Divisional Vice President Australasia at Emirates.

“With the extraordinary success of the premium economy cabin so far in Australia, the additional premium economy service in Melbourne will give more customers the opportunity to experience our unique premium products.” 

Emirates is also ramping up its operations in Australia with improved services to two major cities.

The airline has announced it will be upgrading its second daily flight between Dubai and Brisbane to an A380 starting from October 1.

In addition, Emirates will add a second daily service between Dubai and Perth operated by a Boeing 777-300ER starting from December 1.

aussies no longer missing a link

REGIONAL AUSTRALIANS are set to be the big winners from a new airline partnership.

Virgin Australia (VA) is increasing its regional network by nearly half following a codeshare deal with Link Airways. Flights will be available to book directly on the VA website from March.

More than 90 services per week will be operated by Link Airways, with Virgin codesharing on these flights, including services to Inverell, Wollongong and Biloela which are not currently serviced by any other major airline.

Velocity Frequent Flyer members will now be able to earn both points and status credits on 17 new regional codeshare services. The agreement also connects regional Australia to the wider VA domestic network.

Link Airways operate a fleet of 14 aircraft from Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney to destinations in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

“Today’s announcement in partnership with Link Airways underscores our commitment to delivering great value, flexibility and choice to Australians, and boosting connections for customers living in regional Australia,” said Alistair Hartley, Virgin Australia Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer.

“Together, our networks will be operating up to 365 daily flights across Australia, offering 42 domestic destinations for guests to explore, all while ensuring guests can enjoy seamless connectivity and loyalty benefits under our award-winning Velocity Frequent Flyer program when they travel.”


REX HAS taken the crown as Australia’s number one domestic airline for reliability and punctuality in 2023.

Of the Rex Group’s 5,500 flights scheduled for December last year, it cancelled only 0.6% of them.

The airline also achieved 74% on time departures, followed by Qantas at 67% and Virgin at 57%.

The December results, released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), mirror the results for the calendar year.

“To maintain such high reliability rates is no mean feat, especially in the continued challenging environment still plaguing the aviation industry throughout 2023,” said John Sharp AM, Rex Deputy Chairman. 

Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 58 Saab 340 and 10 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to 56 destinations throughout all states in Australia.


SINGAPORE AIRLINES is continuing to increase flights to Australia with an additional four-times weekly service starting in November.

The additional services will see SIA operating 25 flights per week direct from Brisbane to Singapore.

Operating on an Airbus A350-900, it will also see the airline reach 99 per cent of pre-COVID capacity Australia-wide in another sign of the strength of international travel demand.

The airline’s A350-900 offers customers a choice of three cabin classes, with 42 fully flat business class seats, 24 leather upholstered seats in the premium economy cabin and 187 ergonomically designed economy class seats.

“We are happy to deliver this additional frequency which provides another option for travellers to Singapore and beyond to cities in Europe and Asia,” said Mr Louis Arul, Singapore Airlines Regional Vice President.

The additional SIA service will operate on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from Brisbane to Singapore from November 28.

aussie connection is back

THAI AIRWAYS will resume direct flights to Perth next month with an additional service also added to the Sydney route.

Passengers will be able to fly aboard a modern 787 Dreamliner from the Western Australia capital to Bangkok from March 31.

Flights will leave Perth at 4:20pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and 9:20am on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The airline is also adding an additional Sydney service from March 31 aboard a new A350. It will leave the Harbour City at 2:50pm.


BUDGET AIRLINE Bonza claims to have saved Aussie travellers more than $125 million in its first year of operation.

The carrier says that figure is expected to double this year as it delivers upon its mission of making air travel more affordable and accessible, particularly for those in regional Australia.

Since its inaugural flight on January 31 last year, the airline has seen more than 750,000 customers travel to 21 destinations across Australia, with 84% of those routes not served by any other airline and 89% of routes not served by a low-cost carrier.

“We’ve got big plans for 2024 and the Aussie public will benefit,” commented Tim Jordan, Bonza CEO.

“We’re predicting we’ll save domestic travellers somewhere in the vicinity of an additional $250 million this coming year.

“Competition in Australian skies is a great thing for Aussie travellers and over 750,000 customers have already experienced the benefits of Bonza.”

The airline plans to expand its fleet beyond the six aircraft currently servicing the carrier’s 38 routes, together with additional routes being added and plans for a fourth base before the year is out.

“Like any new business we know that we don’t always get things right all of the time, but at Bonza we learn quickly and we will go again as our customers have shown us that there certainly is a Bonza sized opportunity in the Australian aviation market,” added Mr Jordan.

The airline has just announced its 12th destination with a service between the Sunshine Coast and Launceston launching on March 29.