The Turkish government has announced the creation of an airline to be called Southwind, with the aim of bringing Russian tourists closer to tourist resorts and attractions in Turkey.
In a context where air connectivity with the Russian market has been drastically reduced due to the conflict with Ukraine, Russia’s allies see opportunities to capture unmet demand.
According to AirportHaber, the company will begin operations in May with five Airbus planes, three twin-aisle and two narrow-body, although it did not provide more information on which models will be operated.
The same media reports that the orders have already been submitted to the Turkish aeronautical authorities, which have been accepted and the incorporation procedure will be accelerated.
The importance of Turkish tourism
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According to initial reports, the Turkish government sees Southwind as an opportunity to bring one million Russian travelers to its tourist hubs, who seek to regain pre-pandemic visitor and revenue levels.
According to the OECD Statistics Department, tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing economic sectors in Turkey. In 2018, it directly accounted for 7.7% of total employment, directly employing 2.2 million people. Total revenue generated by inbound tourism was 3.8% of Turkish GDP.
Turkey attracted 45.8 million international tourists in 2018, an increase of 21.7% compared to 2017 which generated $9.7 billion in tourism receipts, an increase of 12% compared to last year.
According to 2018 statistics, Russia is the top consumer of Turkish tourism with 13.0% of total international arrivals, followed by Germany with 9.8%.
Moreover, the return on investment expected from the new Istanbul airport has been greatly reduced by the two years of the pandemic.