Following last week’s failed coup in Turkey, the Federal Aviation Administration FAA has imposed a ban on all direct flights, regardless of carrier, from Turkish airports, including Istanbul and Ankara, the country’s two largest cities. Both cities were epicenters of conflict as the uprising broke out on Friday and carried on into the weekend.
The United States embassy in Ankara, issued a notice that cited the FAA’s notice to airmen (NOTAM), and that prohibited all U.S. airline carriers from flying to or from Istanbul and Ankara airports. “All airline carriers, regardless of country of registry, are prohibited from flying into the United States from Turkey, either directly or via a third country. Further, although some airlines resumed service, travelers should be prepared for changes to flight schedules and paths.”
In addition to leaving thousands of travelers stranded in Anatolia, the flight ban is expected to hit Turkish Airways particularly hard given the carrier’s extensive connections to the U.S. through its hub at Istanbul Atatürk Airport. Turkish Airlines is now forced to cancel nonstop flights to all of their U.S. gateways, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Orlando, New York, Washington, Chicago and Boston. The ruling also shuts down codeshare connections with fellow Star Alliance carrier United Airlines.
Turkish media has reported that the ban may not last as long as initially anticipated however, and that officials from the General Directorate of Security Affairs, General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMI), Turkish Airlines, and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation have gathered with the FAA teams to carry out some examinations.” Dogan News Agency, which broke the news, reported that, “FAA officials reportedly said they lean towards a decision to relaunch flights from Turkey to the U.S.”
Anti-government rebels took over military aircraft and fired on locations in major cities. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s muscular response, including the almost instantaneous sacking of thousands of government employees and the arrest of thousands more, calls into question the state’s ability to impose the sort of security required to meet international aviation standards. UPS operates a route from Newark to Istanbul, and has operations at Ankara and Izmir, the country’s second- and third-largest airports, respectively. From Turkey, Turkish Airlines operates around 10 flights a day to the US. Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport processes 47 percent of Turkey’s air cargo. Antalya, to the south, handles 29 percent of air freight, while another, newer Istanbul airport, Sabina Gocken, handles 9 percent.
Turkish cargo has posted remarkable growth rates over the last decade and the flight ban extends through August, with a review scheduled for no later than Aug. 15.