June 1, 2020 / 12:01 PM / a month ago

Turkish Airlines sees 60% fewer passengers than initial estimate

ISTANBUL, June 1 (Reuters) - Turkish Airlines expects a slow recovery in global demand towards the end of the summer months but there will be a 60% drop in passenger numbers this year compared to initial expectations, Chairman Ilker Ayci said.

Turkey’s flag carrier, which flew to 126 countries before the coronavirus outbreak, resumed domestic flights on Monday after some two months of suspensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected to start some international flights from June 10.

The company’s shares were up 1.9% at 1125 GMT, after rising more than 4.5% at Monday’s open.

In a teleconference on Friday, Ayci said the company expects available seat kilometres to drop around 55% from its initial expectations for this year, adding that Turkish Airlines is taking many actions to decrease operational expenses and secure liquidity.

The measures included re-negotiating payment terms with major vendors, postponement of ticket refunds, freezing recruitment and deferring tax payments.

More than 180 aircraft were planned to be delivered between 2020 and 2024, Ayci said, adding that the company is in talks to postpone some deliveries in the coming years due to the contraction in demand so that there is no excess capacity in 2021 and 2022.

The company also aims to postpone pre-delivery payments for those years, he said, in addition to selling and leasing back different aircraft types.

The flag carrier has around $2 billion in undrawn credit lines available from Turkish banks, in addition to its $1.8 billion cash, Ayci said. (Reporting by Ceyda Caglayan; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler)

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