SunExpress, a joint venture of Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, posted €1.3 billion ($1.49 billion) revenue for 2018, the highest in its history.

The Antalya, Turkey-based carrier transported 10 million passengers in 2018, up 10% over 2017. Load factor was flat at 84 %.

SunExpress did not report detailed financial figures, including profits, but attributed the positive numbers to passenger growth, especially the return of strong tourism bookings in Turkey.

“With our strong financial structure and expertise as a leisure carrier we will continue to be the backbone of air travel for the Turkish tourism industry in 2019,” Sun Express CEO Jens Bischof said.

The carrier will offer 6.6 million seats this summer from Europe to Turkey, up 20% over 2018, with scheduled flights to 36 European destinations from 16 cities in Turkey that will include nine new destinations.

From Antalya, SunExpress’ new routes will include Eindhoven, the Netherlands; Gothenburg, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; and Prague, Czech Republic.

Bischof said flights to Anatolia for family visits by Turks living in Europe have become the fastest-growing market segment. In 2019, the carrier will offer scheduled flights from 12 Anatolia cities, to 16 cities in Europe, a capacity increase of 30% compared to last year.

SunExpress will also operate the largest fleet in its history, with 83 aircraft. The airline will take delivery of its first five Boeing 737 MAX 8s in April and May. In total, it has 32 MAX-8s on order, scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2024.

“We will also receive three 737 MAX 9s for SunExpress Germany as well as eight additional Airbus A320s to be placed into service on international flights departing from Antalya,” Bischof said.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway.at