The first flight to Misrata took off on Thursday, and direct flights to Misrata will regularly operate every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, beginning the first week of 2012. Cargo flights to Misrata are also scheduled to start soon.
The airline already flies to the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi on a regular basis, and the increase in the number of flights to Libya could be seen as a way for Turkey to try and keep influence over the Libyans. Turkey has strongly supported the opposition against Muammar Gaddafi during the Libyan civil war, and during his visit to Tripoli in September, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a huge welcome from the Libyans.
However, this increase in flights might stir up competition from the airlines of countries such as France and Britain, who are also trying to increase their influence in Libya. France was the first country to recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and conducted military strikes against Gaddafi's forces during the civil war with the hope of increasing their popularity in the country.
THY has dramatically increased the number of its flights to cities in northern and sub-Saharan African nations over the past few years. This helps Turkish foreign policy to succeed in the region as flights are a way to maintain ties with these countries.
THY CEO Temel Kotil has said the company plans to add 18 more planes to its fleet in 2012. The airline will begin flights to 10-14 new destinations next year.
Kotil stressed that it was important to achieve their 2011 targets especially in light of the Japan tsunami, the eurozone economic crisis, regime changes in North Africa and the Middle East, and rising foreign exchange and oil prices. Kotil said that while a shrinkage of the world's aviation sector has continued since 2008, the number of THY passengers increased 11.7 percent to 30 million in the first 11 months of 2011 when compared to the same period in 2010. "THY increased its number of planes from 153 to 177 and the number of its destinations from 174 to 190 in 2011," he added.