Turkish Airlines Cancels International Flights Through June 10, 2020

Filed Under: Turkish

We’re quickly approaching the start of summer, and Turkish Airlines has just extended cancellation of all of their flights even further once again.

Turkish Airlines is arguably the most global airline in the world, so I’d consider this to be pretty significant, especially as airlines like Emirates and Qatar start to ramp up operations.

Turkish Airlines extends flight suspension

Turkish Airlines has today announced an extension of their suspended service:

  • Turkish Airlines has suspended all domestic flights through June 4, 2020
  • Turkish Airlines has suspended all international flights through June 10, 2020

The airline claims that this is being done “in accordance with decisions made by official authorities,” so it sounds like this isn’t necessarily an operational decision on the carrier’s part.

For some context:

  • Turkish Airlines first suspended all international flights as of late March in accordance with a government mandate that indefinitely banned all international flights to the country; at the time they pulled all inventory through April 17, 2020
  • In mid April Turkish Airlines suspended all flights through May 20, 2020
  • In late April Turkish Airlines suspended all flights through May 28, 2020
  • Now they’re suspending cancellations by around two weeks for international flights

Turkish Airlines has suspended all international flights

Why Turkish Airlines’ suspension matters

With dozens of airlines around the world grounded, why am I calling out an extension of service cuts by Turkish Airlines specifically?

Well, because I think airlines like Turkish are the ones to watch to get a sense of how international travel will recover:

  • Turkish is among the most global airlines in the world, ordinarily flying to more countries than any other airline in the world
  • I think watching how Turkish Airlines adds capacity when they restart operations will give a good indicator of when the global situation improves in terms of borders opening, airline traffic picking up, etc.

As mentioned above, it seems like this might not entirely be an operational decision, but rather the government may be behind it. Turkey has been hit pretty hard by COVID-19, though the situation is improving. For the first time in nearly two months, the country is down to under 1,000 daily new cases.

I think most of us already knew that, though, and that’s one of the reasons it probably makes sense to focus on domestic travel once you feel it’s safe and responsible to travel again. Alternatively, it could make sense to focus on specific countries that are going out of their way to take precautions with tourists.

Turkish flies to more countries than any other airline

Bottom line

Turkish Airlines has cancelled all domestic flights through June 4, and all international flights through June 10, which represents an additional delay of service of up to about two weeks.

I’m curious to see if they actually resume operations at that point, or if we’ll see a further delay.

Are you surprised to see Turkish Airlines suspend all international operations through June 10?

  1. I had a flight booked with them from Cape Town to Istanbul to DC on May 2. Unsurprisingly, they are not easily issuing refunds – is not possible to refund the reservation online but am instead directed to call their 24h hotline (in Turkey). Their US 800 number doesn’t work and isn’t readily listed.

  2. I was scheduled to fly to Ankara on April 18th from BDL returning one week later. I got thru their 800 number rather easily and although they do not encourage you to get a refund, I requested one without too much argument. The only caveat is that I was told it will take a minimum of 90 days. Extra bonus point option was quite tempting for a few seconds.

  3. I’m surprised we haven’t heard from other similarly sized European carriers yet. For example, SAS cut most operations, you can’t book flights through early May best I can tell. Strangely, however, ticketholders like me still haven’t gotten flight cancellation notices for late April flights. Mine is next week, and I’m waiting for the cancel email, I can’t rebook the exact same flights on same dates so I figure they’re going to officially tell me it’s canceled at some point. So weird. I realize they’re dealing with a lot but figure if they’ve yanked the flights, why haven’t they told me officially? Feel for them, but give people some certainty, more than a week out.

  4. Air Europa has canceled all flights it looks like to the USA through the end of May. Mine has been canceled according to their website, but no email. It says you can’t even contact them until 72 hours prior to your schedule departure.

  5. Very surprised and disappointed because I cancelled a ticket after giving up on the 800 US number – and you get ZILCH when you cancel !! 🙁

  6. @Jeremy P, airlines are doing this to avoid having to process refunds for cancelled flights and they can hold on to the cash for as long as possible.

  7. I used their app for a refund a month ago, as it didn’t work online.
    Surprisingly, 2 days later i received the amount to my credit card 🙂

  8. LH, LX and SAS are still selling tickets to Asia in May. Any idea when they would update the inventory to reflect flight suspensions?

  9. I’m curious which airline currently holds the title of most countries served. It must be Qatar which flies to 35 countries at the moment.

  10. Don’t expect intercontinental travel till at least September. Making plans before that will be overly optimistic. Even after September expect restrictions to still be in place for many countries. Travelers from countries that didn’t lock down early enough (read US) should expect even more restrictions entering into European, Asian and African countries.

  11. I don’t actually think this is as much of a ‘global’ indicator as you think. Turkish wanted to keep flying to a very limited number of destinations (5?) and the government stopped all international air travel. I was about to book a flight from Istanbul to Beijing for May 1, and suddenly all availability disappeared till May 20th. Not sure how I can leave Istanbul now.

  12. >Aussies have been told not to expect overseas travel to at least Jan 21.

    As much as airlines like SAS are ridiculous for not canceling flights a week out (seriously, they pretend they’re going to fly to New York City next week … as if), I’d like to know what kind of crystal ball Australia consults.

    It’s entirely preposterous to suggest knowing whether international travel is an option in the fall or not. At some point, the public attitude towards this will change. I think that will happen *way* before Jan 21 (say, May) if societies aren’t at least somewhat re-opened.

  13. About a week ago qantas cancelled a domestic flight (Melbourne to Syd) for mid May. Clearly no plans to fly in May. I still have a June booking with them so waiting to see what happens.

  14. Well, the worst is KLM. They are refusing to give refunds if they cancelled flights, and are instead only issueing vouchers (which, by the way, is not allowed under EU law – if the customer refuses an offered voucher, they airline MUST refund). You can get your cash back after 12 months, if you have not used your voucher – what an underhanded way to borrow money without having to pay any interest!

  15. @Omar – thanks much for explanation, hadn’t really thought about it that way. Still a bit frustrating because I’d like some certainty for a flight that allegedly is in a week! I did see SAS say on Twitter today that they’re only up to refund requests for early March. So I guess if it does cancel, I might see it in August! 🙂

  16. I had a flight from Karachi to Austin tx USA. I have send almost 5 to 6 feedback to request refund, but they first replied me after several weeks and offered me miles and smiles program to upgrade my future booking if I will have one.
    I replied their customers relation email and asked again for refund. They replied me after few and told me that they can’t refund now and I have to wait at least 2 months to contact them back. I don’t know when I will be able to go usa and which airlines I will book. All I want is my refund because I don’t have job.

  17. @Brian, you’re joking, right? The virus will be with us for at least couple years. The question is how to learn to live with it with minimal damage to health/economy.

  18. Singapore Airlines is now offering Bangkok-SIN-Australia bookings from 1 June. Interesting, realistic bet as both Thailand and Australia have banned inward travel through May.

  19. Coronavirus is not going to magically disappear in the summer. Not sure why anyone would think that. Heat/sun isn’t going to kill it off. Hopefully the number of cases will be less due to people wearing masks and better precautions.

    Hey, it is now over 100 degrees for highs in Phoenix and there are still cases of the virus here. The numbers may look low compared to some places, and it is possible there are less cases here, but it is also possible it is due to how horrible they have been doing testing in Arizona.

    And countries will low number of cases sure don’t want foreigners coming in with it and causing more spreading of the highly contagious virus. Look how quickly it went around the world.

  20. Hi Lucky,

    I don’t fully agree with your analysis. A lot of Turkish’s decision making has to do with government policy.

    “In accordance with decisions taken by the official authorities, all flights have been suspended until May 28, 2020 in order to protect public health against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

    Likely not a good indicator for global travel trends. However, it is positive that the suspension was only an extra 8 days. Seems optimistic given previous suspensions were for quite long stretches. Likely reflects decreasing new infection rate in Turkey and Istanbul.

  21. This no travel before 2021 may have something to do with Billgates latest money spinner idea .Mass vaccination preferably forced vaccination incl. invisible tattoo.
    I don´t want to be vaccinated with a doubtful vaccine with possible more than doubtful side effects !
    No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages from a vaccine related injury or death US law…
    Corona killed maybe as many people as a strong influenza season
    Most deceased died WITH corona not only of corona.
    IMHO To die is part of live and a person 70 , 80 or 90 should not be forcefully “protected” ! It should be up to this person , if he/she/it wants to spend the final days at home or wear a mask and keep 30 feet distance from other living beings OR travel by air , ship or car with the risk of getting sick , robbed , murdered et c.

    Interesting is the Swedish approach to corona
    (See Youtube videos…
    Hardly any restrictions. Schools , bars , clubs , restaurants , shops open as usual.Death per million , for me the relevant number-if they need more “cases” they just have to test more-and they will have cases…
    Death per million is about European average .Nearly all dead suffered from pre- conditions…very old age , diabetes , obesity, cardiovascular problems .
    let´s get up into the air soon again , enjoy our limited life span and

  22. People, please stop and think. Airlines need cash. They need to hold on to what cash they have from you already as long as possible, until they have no option but to refund your credit card or debit card. SO STOP with the ” I booked … flight…. on …. , and now I can’t get a refund or only …I got a voucher etc etc. . Just stop attempting to book international flights. Wait until the airline in question, legally and publicly confirms that the flight you seek is operational again. Just saying, save yourself some grief. Its not rocket science.

  23. TK suspension of all intl flights is not surprising to me because I could clearly see the play coming when I received the following email from them in response to my request for a refund on a cancelled flight:

    “In line with your feedback, pursuant to the additional regulations added to the Civil Aviation Passenger Rights Regulation, it has been decided to refund the tickets of the flights canceled by the airline companies due to the Coronavirus, *two months after lifting of the flight ban.*”

    The key part is *two months after lifting of the flight ban* because if you multiply that by thousands of customers, it means that TK gets to hold longer onto the money that they owe, allowing them to earn a decent amount in interest on that capital to offset some of their losses from the disrupted commercial aviation business.

  24. “Are you surprised to see Turkish Airlines suspend all international operations through May 28?”

    Not at all. I expect further delays. No end in sight yet. Things will have to settle down pretty well for international flights to resume. We are lightyears away from that. Forget about travelling for the time being. This may go on for several more months. The planned easing up of the restrictions in many countries will only make matters worse, not better. Don’t hold your breath.

    The only thing I find peculiar is that THY extended the suspension by 8 days. I find that funny as I would expect a more significant extension if there is one. But, you don’t know what they know.

    I booked several flights with THY for this summer, well ahead of time when there was no CoViD-19 at all. The airline has been pretty good so far, they responded well to my queries and changed my bookings promptly. However, I will now consider getting all my THY tickets refunded. There is no point in planning anymore. One just has to wait and see when planning becomes possible again.

  25. Dear Lucky ,Or another admin reading this
    Can You please deletete (not publish) my recent post , as it was largely OT anyway.
    Thank-You very much
    Many HAPPY LANDINGS to You

  26. It’s Turkish legislation which allows them to refund only two months after lifting the flight ban. That obviously is a strong incentive to keep the flight ban in place for while, because lifting it would start the clock, even if only relatively few flights can be operated. So I guess they will only lift the flight ban once a reasonable number of flights (perhaps not all) can be operated.

  27. Dear Lucky or another admin reading this,
    Please do not delete Charlie’s earlier posts. Let the world see what a covidiot he is, wrapped in conspiracy theories.
    Thank you very much
    Many happy landings to you

  28. I need help! If someone can be kind to advise me… Turkish air they wrote on the website 15 May international travel, I was vulnerable due to want to be with my family abroad so booked Turkish airlines for 27 May.. low behold after couple of days checking their airline site changed to 28 May.. as I booked through online (agent) website through comparison site.. can I deal directly with Turkish airlines or do I have to deal with agents?(the agents are based in India very unprofessional) can Turkish airlines deal with change of dates with me? Or are the agents only allowed to do that? Turkish airlines said tell your agents nothing extra to pay on top, but the agents want dare differences? I feel so depressed as I’m out of work & thought best thing is to be next to my family for support but feel real devastated & let down how I’m being dealt by agency.. I really thought TK air would be opening up for business which made me book in the first place but so let down.. why not just put on there site “these are advisory dates not garunteed” but the statement was written clearly we will resume domestic flights on 1 May and international 15 may … written in a assuring manor… if anyone knows if I get a voucher instead of cancellation can I use that for any online site to book a Turkish flight. Sorry for going on and on I feel real sad at the moment, so far from my family.

  29. @Aftab — Ultimately, most of the money from the sale of your ticket will go to TK. So, if you just want to do a travel date change and the itinerary remains the same, I think that you can simply call TK support center and they’ll take care of it, especially since change fees remain almost universally waived. You may not be able to reach anyone by phone, therefore you’ll need to make sure that you have the *TK* reservation number or PNR and not the online travel agency (OTA)’s internal number, so that you can submit your request to TK as a feedback through their website. You MUST have the *TK* reservation number or the online option won’t work (the ticket number just MIGHT also work).

    On the other hand, if you wish to cancel, then TK won’t be able to help you. You will need to contact the OTA in India that sold you the ticket to either get a refund or credit.

  30. @Aftab — I do not known whether or not TK offers the option, but if you have their PNR for this trip, you might be able to the change the flight date yourself on their website using their ‘manage my trip’ utility, which requires having the PNR. I know for sure that UA lets traveler change flight travel dates online. TK might as well.

    Just a thought…

  31. This is rather related to Ramadan and Eid-Al Fitr (24 and 25th of May) , to continue curbing domestic and international travel.

  32. ersonally, I am sure that the situation will get back to (almost) normality by the very end of August. I have TK flights booked in September, October & November and have no intention to cancel these plans at all (unless forced to, of course). People will go back travelling once this hysteria most of the media is spreading around will be over. Suggestion: would you guys book/be comfortable with a connection in IST of one hour only? any similar experience you can share?

  33. On March 17, my wife and I booked an Atlanta-Istanbul flight on THY for August 30-September 18. I am still hoping we will be able to travel; if not, we can always reschedule to 2021, when I hope a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will be available.

    I have connections with Turkey going back to 1964, and this pandemic is tough.

  34. Turkish has just extended their international flight suspension until 1 June, by adding 3 days to the previous date, which was 28 May. What’s the point in adding 3 days? Also, note they take bookings for dates on all flights which will very likely be suspended again. And if they are, will they refund your money that you spent on a flight that was never meant to depart? NO! If they told you that the suspension will be effective for another 3 months, will you book? NO! That’s why they extend it bit by bit. Airlines are playing dirty games trying to save their skin. Don’t hold you breath. No end in sight. Do not book!

  35. For Filippo:

    It is too short connection and you will definitely miss your next leg. It is particularly true for the new airport (it’s huge). In December I came back from the US and being at an arrival gate more then one hour prior to my flight to Odesa I did not make it. You should know also that TA close a gate 1 hour before a take-off. It’s their all-international-flights policy.

  36. @Filippo
    If both tix are on turkish then personally I think it’s fine. I’ve done it before and nothing happened. Just be prepared that if you get any delays, you’ll miss it
    having flown with TK multiple times they must certainly do NOT close the gate 1 hr before departure. All flights notionally board 1 hr in advance, but that rarely happens. It says so on the boarding pass, but it basically never happens. In reality boarding starts approx 40 mins before departure, and ends around 15-20 mins before departure

  37. I think it’s very difficult for airlines like TK. There are going to be so many travel restrictions and immigration changes as a result of COVID-19. Airlines have some liability in verifying a passenger is able to enter a country. It must be a nightmare to keep internal systems and processes up-to-date with the changes.

  38. My guess is that a semblance of normalcy for international travel will only show during spring next year, if we are to keep our current pace. Yes countries are opening up now but the restrictions are still so stupid that it isn’t worth the hassle.

  39. @Charlie
    “Death per million is about European average .Nearly all dead suffered from pre- conditions…very old age , diabetes , obesity, cardiovascular problems”

    In fact, pretty much everyone who dies has an underlying condition of some sort (in my country ~80% of men who die have Prostate cancer. They’re mostly not dying *of* it, just *with* it).

    But the key statistic to look at is probably “excess deaths” — how many more people are dying this year than, statistically, we would normally expect (and, again in my country, it’s been a mild winter and a warm spring, so we’d expect deaths to be lower than normal). So far, we seem to have ~55,000 more deaths this year than would normally have been expected.

    That’s more dead people than the total number of US military killed in the entire Vietnam War.

    The problem with a pandemic is that your decisions about the risks you’re prepared to take don’t just affect you. You are a potential spreader (or, if you’re really unlucky, an asymptomatic super-spreader: check out poor old Typhoid Mary). Which means your freedom is potentially adversely affecting someone else (hence the US Supreme Court decision that “freedom of speech” does not extend to shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre).

    Your freedom to smoke cigarettes has to be balanced with my freedom not to have to breathe toxic air. Your freedom to decide which side of the road you want to drive on has to be balanced with the rights of other road users not to be caught in avoidable collisions. And so on.

    So, yes, do do the personal risk assessment before you decide whether or not to consider travelling right now. But then also think about the risks of your decision impinging on someone else — including possibly taking a life.

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