Turkey Bans All International Flights

Filed Under: Turkish

Update: Turkish Airlines has suspended all international flights through May 20. That ended up being extended even further.

This is a pretty significant development, when you consider that Turkish Airlines has historically flown to more countries than any other airline in the world…

Turkey bans all international flights

With the cases of COVID-19 on the rise in Turkey, the country has banned international flights to & from the country indefinitely.

As President Erdogan explained in an an address today, “We have entered a new period where we need to make more sacrifices. We won’t fall into sluggishness nor panic.”

This comes as Turkey now has nearly 5,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a total of 92 deaths. That death toll rose by 16 in the past 24 hours.

Istanbul Airport is now closed to international traffic

Turkish Airlines had already reduced schedule greatly

Just five days ago Turkish Airlines announced huge schedule cuts, as the airline planned to fly to only five international destinations. In total the airline was supposed to reduce capacity by 85%, and noted that most of the international capacity was cut due to increasingly complicated immigration policies.

However, at this point even those flights are being cancelled. Best I can tell, it looks like inventory has been pulled for international flights through April 17, 2020. However, as of now the international ban is indefinite, so only time will tell when flights actually resume.

Turkish Airlines is discontinuing all international flights

Bottom line

Turkey is the latest country to more or less close their borders to international air traffic. It’s pretty jarring to see an airline as global as Turkish Airlines completely end international flying.

Unfortunately in general countries seem slow to adapt to the global circumstances. The US certainly was, because we had plenty of warning, and from the looks of it, Turkey hasn’t taken this particularly seriously until the past week or so (in terms of telling people to stay home, etc.).

Here’s to hoping Turkey opens back up again soon…

  1. Just left Istanbul on the 23rd after being stuck on a 20 day cruise to nowhere (NCL Spirit). Had to book a last minute flight from Capetown to Addis Ababa to Istanbul to Miami. At that time we were told in Istanbul that Turkey would be allowing only US flights to JFK and IAD by the 27th. Amazing how fast everything shut down. The airport on the 23rd was filled with families fleeing African countries with poor health systems and expats trying to get home after previously scheduled flights had failed.

  2. So….you were on a floating petri dish and then went through how many packed public spaces before coming back to America?

    I get it. And, I probably would have done the same thing, but please tell me you are quarantining yourself.

  3. @AlohaDaveKennedy I dont think Africans were ‘fleeing’ to get out of Africa. Istanbul generally has lots of travelers from Africa transiting through. They could be rushing to get back to their country from Europe as cases in Africa hasn’t reached exponential numbers like Europe, Asia, or the US.

  4. Now that TK is practically grounded internationally, QR has officially become the world’s superconnector, flying to more countries than any other airline.

  5. @xajn: I do think QR is NOT going to accelerate the spreading of the coronavirus, simply because all except Qatari nationals are prohibited from entering the country. As long as preventive measures (times a thousand) are taken on each flight, QR is apparently doing the right thing by ferrying people home when others have refused. This is something EK and now TK can no longer do.

    But goodness knows if Qatar imposes a lockdown as well, given all the FIFA World Cup workers who continue to work, and that will definitely ground QR and its noble intentions.

  6. @VT-CIE
    Twitter is alive with stranded people in Australia and New Zealand complaining about the hugely inflated airfares QR is charging on these flights. Does not really match with their marketing spiel of selling it as a noble gestures.

  7. Australia closed its borders way before Turkey. Turkey is not the first large country to do so.

  8. Why leave Australia or New Zealand? Can do a lot worse right now then being in those two countries.

  9. @sabine. Not inflated. If flights were already busy , the seats available are in the highest booking class. They won’t sell first class for the lowest fare bucket. Many airlines also have rescue fares. But it’s the same thing. Depends on fare bucket

    @jerry hills how are they supposed to support themselves financially if unable to return home for work ? Or are they all being subsidied and not having to pay anything. Most people have a budget.

  10. I’m one of the many tourists stuck here… I entered the country on the 17th and was given mandatory self quarantine because I had previously been to the UK, and my flight out to the Uk was cancelled, leaving me stuck here following the 14 day isolation letter from immigration. I was meant to fly back to my real life on April 1st, when the quarantine would have been lifted, but….. not I’m just stuck here indefinatly I guess? lol.

    Can anyone recommend any good Turkish language online lessons?

  11. Ahh, aviation suddenly became much more safe. If Turkey ban domestic flights as well, it would improve even more.

  12. I had two RT trips purchased in Business on TK (one YYZ to AMM for March 30, and one MEX to TXL for June 5). I dreaded calling to see what could be done in the way of getting my money back since TK cancelled the flights, not I.

    I called four times, twice to the US office and twice to the Istanbul service Center. Mirabile dictu, in all cases I was offered (I had not even asked for it because other experience lately had made me think that that was not a possibility) a FULL refund to my credit card! Got the receipt for the refund in the email immediately thereafter. The agent did say that it may take up to 60 days for it to be credited, but that it would be credited without fail.

    Mirabile dictu!

    With my other 8 airline tickets (Interjet, United, Aeromar, AF, KLM), NONE of the above offered my cash back nor complied with my request for it.

  13. @Dr Stan I had a trip on Apr 20th from FRA-IST-AYT-IST-FRA return on Apr 28th. Been waiting to see since those dates are beyond their cutoff for cancellations. So I called the U.S. # and was offered a full refund as well. Got the email confirmation and also told it could take 60 days which is fine. Their website options are not great for changes. Anyway, best of luck!

  14. I also am praying flights will resume soon. My husband and I are separated by this awfull pandemic. Please world get better soon.

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