Why Turkish Airlines Can’t Resume International Flights Yet

Filed Under: Turkish

Turkish Airlines, typically the world’s most global airline, has grounded all international flights since late March. The airline finally resumed domestic flights in early June, and the plan up until now was for international flights to resume as of today, June 10, 2020.

Turkish Airlines doesn’t have permits to fly

While Turkish Airlines was supposed to resume international flights today, that will no longer be happening. The reason is because Turkish Airlines still hasn’t received permits for international flights from Turkey’s civil aviation authority, according to Turkey’s Transport Minister.

We still don’t know when the airline will resume international flights. I can appreciate how dynamic the situation is and that for many countries things come down to the wire, but it is a bit strange that this announcement only came from Turkey on the day that international flights were scheduled to resume. Turkish Airlines’ website even still shows international flights resuming as of today.

Turkish Airlines won’t be resuming international flights today

Turkey’s plans to resume international flights

Turkey’s plan was to take a phased approach to resuming international flights, drafting up reciprocal agreements with other countries to relaunch service. Up until now the plan was that:

  • Flights to Bahrain, Bulgaria, Greece, and Qatar, would resume as of June 10
  • Flights to Austria, Croatia, Germany, and Singapore, would resume as of June 16
  • Flights to countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, and South Korea, would resume between June 20 and 25

Turkey in general has taken an odd approach towards border restrictions.

According to the IATA travel map, Turkey has no current restrictions against people from Brazil, Russia, and the United States, while it does have restrictions against people from Greece, South Korea, and Switzerland, for example.

Big picture, Turkey currently has restrictions for the following countries:

Algeria, Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, China (People’s Rep.), Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Czechia, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece. Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland (Rep.), Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (Rep.), Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Niger, North Macedonia (Rep.), Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan

This includes:

  • Nationals of the above countries (with the exception of the United Kingdom, who are still allowed)
  • Passengers who have been in or transited in the above countries in the past 14 days

I find these restrictions to be particularly odd. For example, in theory Americans could travel to Turkey right now, the problem is just the lack of ways to get there. Looking at itineraries from New York to Istanbul tomorrow, I only see routings through Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, and Munich, yet it would appear that anyone who has transited those hubs in the past 14 days isn’t allowed to enter Turkey, so…

Turkey’s entry requirements are particularly complicated

Bottom line

Turkish Airlines was supposed to resume international flights as of today, though that’s not happening. The airline hasn’t been able to get the permits needed to resume flights.

Once flights do resume — whenever that is — Turkey will be taking a phased approach. The strange thing is that scheduled flights are largely from countries where Turkey expressly prohibits transit passengers, so who even knows what’s going on anymore…

(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

  1. @ Jennifer — That was an oversight on my part. United Kingdom nationals are allowed in Turkey, but passengers who have transited or have been in the UK in the past 14 days aren’t allowed. Odd times, eh?

  2. So who are on the flights from Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, and Munich to Istanbul tomorrow? That is, if all passengers, including Turkish citizens, are banned due to having transited in banned countries, why would the flights even operate?

  3. Why would anyone travel with an airline that gives passengers no guarantees? Pick an EU airline or you can find yourself quarantined in the middle east. WTF

  4. @ Mitch Cumstein — The flights are scheduled on Turkish Airlines, though it sounds like they won’t actually be operating based on the lack of permits. I believe Turkish nationals could return home, and I suppose some people could also be transit passengers moving onwards to other destinations, though at this point who really knows.

    Turkey’s policy for resuming aviation and tourism is among the most confusing of any country I can think of…

  5. There’s a mistake, I guess, in this:

    — Flights to … Qatar, would resume as of June 10

    — Flights to countries like … Qatar … would resume between June 20 and 25

    Or, given the chaos in Turkey, maybe that’s really what they’ve said?

  6. This seeming lack of planning from both the airline and the country’s government, coupled with TK’s new “enhanced” (and unarguably unnecessary and laughable) hygiene measures that greatly reduces the quality of their soft product, does not bode well for them returning to anything resembling their services/routes pre-COVID anytime soon.

    Currently on hold with Aeroplan to switch to OS from TK on a flight this fall. I just don’t see TK (or Turkey for that matter) having their act together before then and I’m loathe to spend 10+ hours on a plane for a snack box and bottle of water with a 9-hour layover in IST with no lounge. I know these are different/unique times, but c’mon…this is ridiculous.

  7. Why not write an article titled “Why Turkish Airlines still selling tickets for flights known not to happen”? or “Is there anyone still loan Turkish Airlines for stopped flights?” Lol.

  8. Who is this Ben that is signing all the posts on Omaat now? What has happened to Lucky? 😉

  9. With the few exceptions of countries like New Zealand or some island nations who have essentially eliminated CoVID-19, these travel restrictions are stupid at this point. Most countries have CoVID-19, so they aren’t keeping it out by blocking travel, and now that rapid testing is widely available and reliable, a test-on-arrival scheme is likely more than enough to control additional spread that could be attributable to aviation. The cost of these restrictions are exponentially greater than any good that they are doing. Sadly it will take far too long for bureaucracies to catch up.

  10. It’s definitely not an appealing itinerary, and it only works on some days because of when Qatar is operating flights to Istanbul, but I’m searching on Qatar’s website, and it looks like it will route you from ORD to IST via DOH, which it sounds like would allow Americans to visit Turkey without restrictions, as absurd as that is.

  11. Well, Turkish airlines is resuming international flights atm. They have flights to Jerusalem, Macedonia, Serbia and some other countries. I have two friends who flies to Amsterdam tomorrow. No cancellation yet?

  12. Turkish was to commence non-stop flights IST-YVR yesterday. I still have IST-YVR booked in October. Hoping for a TK cancellation email since we pulled the pin on the whole trip after BA already cancelled the September flight to LHR a few weeks ago.

  13. Tukish is completely confusing right now. Our office in Istanbul had an employee visit IST to check what was happening on the 8th (when TK announced they’d resume limited flights). The airport is completely prepped for passengers (with social distancing markers and other COVID features), but with no passengers. I wouldn’t trust any TK schedules until a plane actually takes off.

  14. Non US citizen trying get to USA from Romania only choice i have is Turkey to US direct flight but Turkish airlines just notified our agent we had a Instanbul to San Francisco flight was cancelled to rebook after June 30th ? Anyone know of anyother way get to USA without touching prohibited countries during layovers otherwise becase non US citizen I will be denied entry assuming they count transit airport as been in that country

  15. I think the IATA system needs to be updated is all. There are flights that have already landed from AMS and LHR today

  16. Very frustrating situation on part of the airlines for continuously moving the booked tickets forward or calling them “open tickets” and telling us that our new selected date has been booked but don’t follow up with any email and when we call them the next day they have no record of the previous reservation attempts

  17. I see a flight right now (Wednesday @ 1:50pm EST) from IST-JFK (TK6077). Would the assumption here be that this is cargo only?

  18. Ben, there was a one off flight scheduled for today June 10, IST-LAX which you needed to call in to reserve a seat on, but was actually showing up on their website. I assume it was part cargo and part to return some west coast based Turks to Turkey. My understanding now is that there may be no TK flights to the US until August, though nothing is set in stone. Based upon the EU restrictions, it seems like they won’t be able to fly to any EU countries until July 1 at the earliest either.

  19. Turkey is a hot mess. Virus spread continues, but they’re desperate for money so it’s full speed ahead. Same as plenty of other countries, in case you haven’t noticed. We are still in the early stages of this worldwide pandemic. Even those governments that are fact-based, fairly transparent and are doing their best, are still making things up day by day (see Iceland). If you expect reliable, credible policies that you can depend on (for things like planning international travel) from any government right now, you have unrealistic expectations. If you think you can count on airline schedules and entry requirements more than 24 hours in the future, in places where governments routinely lie and just make up shit because it furthers their goals (Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, the USA, and dozens more) then you’re a fool and you probably deserve the experience you are about to have.

    We are still in the early phases of this pandemic (“we’re just in the second inning of a nine-inning game”, according to one respected epidemiologist). Get that through your thick skull, and get used to it. We are all still just beginning to learn about and understand this virus. Nothing — NOTHING — that any government or airline tells you about your ability to travel at any future date is reliable. Those whiners who are just tired of all the COVID annoyances and who think they’re now gonna just move on are completely delusional.


  21. They have to updates passengers. Some people they need to go back to their homes so pls updates the flights schedule

  22. Everything makes sense once you realize that Turkish Airlines only focuses on getting your money. If you cannot fly, even better as they will have no expenses and pure profit! They’ve been selling tickets to people for weeks now for non-existing flights. They love Covid 19 because it is the perfect excuse for them to blame their thievery on. They can keep saying “Oh sorry, it is Covid’s fault. We cannot refund your money but we can give you miles!” They are thieves, just like the current government of Turkey which has filled Turkish Airlines with unqualified “Islamists” with religious education. THY sold the tickets without official permits from the countries where they are supposed to be flying to. Of course they know this but they just want you to part with your cash and then they can blame it on other governments, Covid 19, you name it. It is everyone’s fault except their own. Just like Erdogan and all his foreign “enemies” that supposedly caused Turkey’s economic destruction.

  23. I have been following the airlines so my family can fly back to the USA and I hardly fine anything on when that will resume. I wish there was more information provided for flights to the USA. Hope they get their approval soon. Need to get things ping once again.

  24. Turkish airlines has been selling tickets on their official website since april .
    Why would they sell tickets knowing they had no permission from authorties of any of the counties they claimed to resume service ..to me turkish airlines conducted monkey business to henerate cash flow worth millions of dollars selling tickets to keep their ball rolling

  25. @ glenn t

    Czechia is the new name for the Czech Republic.

    I loved my time traveling throughout Turkey last May but given the current circumstances it seems pointless to go right now even if it were possible.

    Countries continue to ban entry to nationals of countries even though those countries have greatly reduced the infection rate. The US first banned anyone who had been in China on Feb 2nd. That ban is still in place even though China is nearly infection free and would certainly test any of their nationals even before permitting them fly internationally. The US just included Brazil yet other countries in South America with similar rates of infection on a population adjusted basis like Peru and Chile are still permitted. Mexicans cannot cross the land border but flying is completely acceptable as if somehow the virus miraculously disappears on an airplane. I’m personally in Mexico right now and need to go to the US to apply for Mexican residency but I do not dare crossing the border for the fear of not being able to return to my Mexican girlfriend. I would think many others are in the same situation as I around the world.

  26. “Arrival” means entering the country. So if I’m transiting from any country on the list (which I am) I should not be subject to quarantine. None of the airlines are clarifying this. As someone posted here, if transit passenger gave to quarantine then what’s the point of flying to begin with?

  27. So far I’ve not read any airline making the critical distinction between ARRIVING in the country and TRANSITING through the country. I’m in an Asian country on that list trying to back to the USA. I’m transiting so I shouldn’t qualify for quarantine.

    No transiting passenger anywhere in the world should be subject to quarantine at the transit point. I agree with the other post – if transiting is a problem why have flights at all.

  28. @Gina: it’s the Turkish authorities that are restricting Turkish Airlines. And please stop shouting.

  29. @Ben … I need your help please.
    I live in Italy, I work here since october 2019. Since 8 months, I can’t see my family again; mi wife, two children and my mother. They are in Mexico. They are mexican; my children and I have both citizenships. (Mexican and Italien). They should have arrived on March 2020. I sold everything I could sell in Mexico because we are close to changing our residence. We will live now in Italy. With this money and all my savings; I bought 4 tickets from Turkish Airlines. They cancelled more than 6 times the flights, and each time I call TK call center, they swear that the next month they will be able to resume their international flights.
    They offers me a 100% refund but not before 6 months. Because their speech is that they have a lot of refund requests. They offers also a Miles refund. Sorry but with those Miles what can I do???
    I don’t know what must to do, who I have to talk to. The only think I pray with all my heart is to rejoin my family in Italy. I would like to have a certain answer from this company or a quickly refund so I could buy another tickets with another company.
    Do you know anyone who I can talk to in TK?
    Thank you very much.

  30. Ben, TK FLIGHTS ARE ALL AROUND EUROPE TO THEIR DESTINATIONS. Obviously this is all wrong – I think you owe a correction to stem wrong impression caused among audience.

  31. We have a family (4 adults) holiday booked in turkey departing uk on 29th June, we don’t know if it is happening. all our travel companies says is ..still processing travel up to 20th June we have all pressures from work and feel we have messed them around. If only we had some clear guidance.
    We are quite happy to go this time next year

  32. Our first reservation was for March 30th. We now have a new reservation for July 4th. Hurghada to Uk
    Would anybody please tell me if this is just a wasted effort or will we actually be able to go home??

  33. i am Non Us citizen and Right now in Moldova, any body have idea when flights from Ukraine and Romania will fly to USA??????
    As before 1st july there are no flights from Moldova to USA.

  34. TK wanted to start flights to Greece on 10th June
    Greek authorities will open Athens and Thessaloniki airport for international flights on 15th June, for 29 countries, Turkey is not included in the list.

  35. TK absolutely had a flight land in JFK 5 hours late last Thurs-Fri morning. We had 2 Sphynx kittens aboard it that we picked up. I don’t know if it was just cargo though.

  36. Nigeria government has not lifted ban of international flight and I have booked ticket for 5th july to nigeria from usa..

  37. We are stuck in the USA. Finally found a flight on June 30 going to Istanbul. I called TA asking to verify flights are truly scheduled from the US. She claimed all is good. I can’t find anything showing US flights listed as resuming
    As a back up plan….Jordan claimed they plan to open Amman airport on July 1st.
    Jordan is not listed as a Tabu country anymore so we be able to catch a flight from Amman to Istanbul or Antalya.
    Hope this helps anyone else trying to get back to Turkiye.
    Safe travels to all

  38. I booked a flight in May for 5th of june from JFK to Pakistan via Istanbul on Turkish Air lines but they moved it to 10th of june and again moved to 1st. Of july now for the God’s sake if they are not sure about their Schedules why are they booking and taking cash. So bad about them they are causing a lot af troubles for the travelers .

  39. I travelled last year from Sydney to Frankfurt with a layover in Istanbul , the new (IGA) Istanbul Grand Airport, was damn beautiful and big, it took us with a buggy 25’min from one Gate to the other, I thought, they gave me complimentary Turkish Airlines lounge upgrade, I can say for sure the Lounge, Airport and travel via Turkish Airlines was one of the best trips I made.

  40. We just freaking need to get home and be with our dear ones. WTF. Some ugly games. Airlines are pretty much ready to handle the hygiene. Someone somewhere somehow stopping it all. Virus is still spreading it’s course with or without the flights. Maybe restricted number of flights and number of passengers to avoid too much crowding but airlines must be flying to avoid further infuriation around the world.

  41. They know that they cannot fly still they keep on selling tickets because they do not refund cancelled flights for 60 days after the restrictions are lifted. They are scamming their passengers….

    I feel like been scammed

    Such a shame!!

  42. @Gina
    So, you are implying it is the fault of all the countries and not the Turkish airlines? Everybody is doing something wrong except for TK? It is very unlikely for countries to be jealous of such a low quality damn irresponsible airline…. .

  43. My flight from Bali to the UK at the end of march was cancelled by TK at the last minute and i am still stuck here and its money out for accom and food etc that i had not budgeted for, and i got the first contact from my travel agent today so i am not holding my breath for the £2,000 from TK.

    Hereby we would like to provide you with an update on the status of your refund request.

    Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the airline has cancelled your flights. We act as an online agent between you and the airline you have booked your ticket with. This means that the amount you have paid for your ticket(s) has been transferred to the airline directly after we issued your ticket. After cancellation of these tickets by the airline, we have sent the refund request to the airline and are waiting for their approval and payment of your refund. When the refund from the airline will be received, the account you used for the booking will also be used for the payment transfer.

    In the coming period you will receive status update emails about your refund, which ensures you that we are continuously tracking your booking and the refund status. We kindly ask you to avoid sending emails to us about the status of your refund. Be assured; we are constantly on top of your refund request.

    As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry these processes take longer than usual. The majority of airlines have announced that it will take several months to process all requests.

    We are doing our utmost to get this process completed as soon as possible and we are in close contact with the airlines. We fully understand that the longer processing time does not give you a feeling of comfort. We deeply regret the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

    Kind regards,
    Customer Service

  44. I just want to ask a question are you people using the covid19 to make more money or you want to save life back to there country people are empty I have been in Dubai for 3 months now please you people have to rethink about us we need the international airline to resume so that I will go back to Nigeria Thanks

  45. I would post Kenny Chelsea’s comment again:
    “Why not write an article titled “Why Turkish Airlines still selling tickets for flights known not to happen”? or “Is there anyone still loan Turkish Airlines for stopped flights?” Lol.”

    Why should I give them free loan or even negative APR loan? WTF.

  46. A long list of restricted countries is listed – I wonder why Armenia is not on there; might it be because Turkey blockades this small, Christian landlocked country that was the victim of the first genocide of the 20th century perpetrated by – wait for it – Turkey. But seriously, I can’t wait for Turkish Airlines to start flying again so people can visit the place where genocide was invented.

  47. Any news regarding the missing permits for TK?

    An update to this article would be much appreciated.

  48. I am sick of Turkish Airline behavior. God knows when they will start flights from Pakistan to USA. Stuck in Pakistan for the last 3 months. My return flight was first week of April. No flight information’s from Pakistan to USA is available on Turkish Airline website.

    So much so Turkish Airline doesn’t even answer calls. This is the last time I will travel back on Turkish Airline to USA. No more I will fly on Turkish Airline, lousy in flight service and cold, tste less, smelly meals are served, over all WORST Airline to fly with.

  49. @desikartoos
    If you want to leave that bad, take another airline. Oh what? No flights at all out of PIA?

  50. Turkish Airlines is now the most disorganized, chaotic, and unreliable airliner with complete lack of current and future planning! Our flight has been cancelled SEVEN times SIMCE March!! Each time we called in (7times) we were on hold for at least an hour and another 45 minutes to rebook the flights … Now booked for July 2nd and we aren’t even sure if that would work! NO DOUBT We will switch to a different airline after this messy experience!

    Hope their shareholders notice the lack of high level management skill at the top and drop them to teach them a lesson! (If they don’t go bankrupt soon!)

  51. Amazing how everyone (all these novice travelers) don’t fully understand how things work. As if everything was in TKs hands.

    I had my flights with United and Lufthansa get cancelled on me last minute too (even last week!), doesn’t mean they’re crap.

    FYI- I just flew TK yesterday into Istanbul from LHR. Apart from the reduced lunch service, everything else was alright.

    Chill out people – if you can find another flight to your destination, then go there.

  52. my friend i bow to your superiority on these matters but your are putting it that we are fortunate to be paying for a service that we dont get and thank our lucky stars it could be worse,
    ( AJ says:
    June 15, 2020 at 5:52 am Amazing how everyone (all these novice travelers),

    again i bow to you on how less people travel than you ? but may i add my own thoughts on this and is fact not like your insight as to what people you dont know do ?.
    I fly with Qatar normally before all this started and i do EDI- DPS twice a month for my business then switch to Garuda domestic to different islands each time and if i feel like it jump to KL or SIG for a visit, so close your pea brain and i suspect you have been a backpacker on cheap shit no go flights and are reminicing, conclsion IDIOT.

  53. @David Jones (if that is your real name, which I suspect isn’t based on your poor grammar).

    A) far from a bag packer
    B) I average 200k miles a year on United mostly (or other star alliance)
    C) are you seriously that sensitive?
    D) if you really do that kind of travel “for your business”, you wouldn’t have an issue affording another flight on another airline

  54. Humiliating [Or insulting] people who has lost money to support your favorite airline is far from polite. Every body is entitled to his own ideas and thoughts and you should not humiliate them because their ideas are opposite to yours.

    In my personal opinion, it is the TK’s fault. I do not know about your destination but for my destination Lufthansa stopped selling tickets for June a month before June. But TK kept on selling tickets and each time it cancelled tickets 10 days or even 6 days before departure date. So from that point of view it is TK’s fault. On top of that, Reuters wrote on March that TK would resume limited flights for June. “https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-turkey-thy/turkish-airlines-plans-to-resume-limited-flights-in-june-draft-idUKKBN22I197”..
    But on the TK site first it was mentioned that they resume all of their international flights on May 27th, then they said June 1st and afterward June 10th. And now they have mentioned that they have some limited flights to some limited destinations in June. So, from the beginning TK knew that the flights were supposed to be cancelled, however it kept on selling tickets. It is not fair and not honest especially as they do not refund money for 60 days after restrictions are lifted (which is not clear when and which restrictions they mean). Thus, they keep passengers’ money for flights that never intended to happen and they do not let them buy tickets for other airlines like Qatar which has actually flights.

    Besides, if in a hypothetical world other airlines acting worse than TK (which I make no comments on because I have not bought tickets from them during pandemic), it does not make TK an angle and does not give TK permission to violate EC261 rule for refunding passengers for cancelled flights in 7 days. Even, this hypothetical situation does not give TK permission to violate the passengers’ rights in refunding.

    FYI: EC261 applies to all flights departing EU cities no matter the airline is EU or non-EU carrier.

  55. If the government do not given permission to fly then why the government run Turkish airline selling tickets or they just earning money to fool people and do not refund money.

  56. stopped selling tickets for June a month before June. But TK kept on selling tickets and each time it cancelled tickets before 4 days of departure or week ago
    . They have started a kind of business that they keep its own interest they don’t care what the passenger will do i purchased my ticket by using house rent and last 4 months i didn’t get any kind of job but what they do if you cancel the ticket then why you don’t refund my money.

  57. Stop selling tickets if you canceling again and again you have started a kind of business that you keep its own interest you don’t care what the passenger will do i purchased my ticket by using house rent and last 4 months i didn’t get any kind of job but what they do if you cancel the ticket then why you don’t refund my money.

  58. I bought the tickets last month for next month & today TK cancelled my flights without any notice. Does anybody know if we get our money back??

  59. hi Ben ,
    I booked a ticket from Istanbul to Athens (greece) via turkish airways for flight on 18 March 2020. But i could not board this flight due to covid-19 pandemic . Am I eligible for any refund or rescheduling. I and my travel agent website both tried calling turkish airways two days prior to cancel the tickets but could not connect with them.
    Warm Regards

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