Rumor: Turkish To Wet Lease A380s

Generally I shy away from posting airline rumors, though there are some that are just too juicy not to speculate on.

Yesterday @FlightDKM Tweeted the following:

Our Constantinople correspondent says Turkish Airlines is nearing a deal to wet-lease four A380s. #airbus

Then there’s also an article suggesting that Turkish is about to wet lease four A380s from an “unnamed” airline. Via kokpit.aero:

Turkish Airlines is about to sign an agreement to wet lease with an un-named airline for 4 A380. According to sources,  the 4 aircraft planned to enter to the fleet by summer.

THY plans to fly with some China destinations which are not easy to increase slots. At the moment, THY’s biggest aircraft is Boeing 777-300ER with 337 seat capacity. In January THY also started negations with LOT to wet lease Boeing 787’s. According to the plan, THY will open San Francisco route and use the 787’s on this route.

Mildly unrelated, but I believe the article was originally written in Turkish, which explains the less-than-stellar English. For those of you not familiar with a wet lease, it includes the aircraft, the crew to operate it, maintenance, and insurance.

So I find this to be some pretty exciting gossip, though admittedly I’m an airline and airplane nerd. Turkish is expanding at an unbelievable rate, and this wouldn’t be the first time they’ve leased aircraft from another airline. For example, a few years back they leased some 777-300ER aircraft from Jet Airways, which made for some spectacular award redemptions.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a market for first class in Turkey, so I flew from London to Istanbul and Istanbul to Hong Kong with my brother, and in both cases we were the only first class passengers. The amount of first class award space on Turkish at the time was unreal.

Turkish-First-Class-777
Leased Turkish 777-300ER back in 2009

Unfortunately when Turkish ended the lease they also ceased to offer a first class product, which was a real shame, since they offered an amazing ground experience. As a first class passenger you received roundtrip chauffeur service in Istanbul, and also had access to their amazing first class lounge. They also escorted you every step of the way, from the moment you arrived by car at the airport, till you boarded the plane.

Turkish-First-Class-Lounge
First Class/Prime Class Istanbul Lounge back in 2009

If nothing else I’m excited at the potential of a leased A380 meaning the return of first class, even if just for a few months. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they just sell first class as business class so they don’t have to provide extra ground services, having learned that there’s not much of a market for first class in Istanbul.

So which “unnamed” airline are the four A380s likely to come from? Well, per the article, the number of A380s currently being operated by airline are as follows:

  • Emirates (44)
  • Singapore (19)
  • Qantas (12)
  • Lufthansa (10)
  • Air France (9)
  • Korean (8)
  • Malaysia (6)
  • Thai (6)
  • China Southern (5)
  • British Airways (4)

Well, I can’t imagine it’s British Airways, as they just started London and Hong Kong service on the A380 and surely don’t want to discontinue that. The British are a proud bunch, after all. 😉

China Southern? Well, they might as well as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t imagine they’ll just wipe out their A380 fleet for a few months.

Lufthansa? I doubt the Germans could trust the Turkish to the return the plane with any sort of pünktlichkeit. 😉

Qantas? No way, they need those planes to operate their London and Los Angeles service, and have retired enough of their 747s so that they don’t really have any planes that could replace them.

Emirates? They were actually my first though originally, since they’d doing a bunch of runway work at Dubai Airport this summer and have a ton of A380s. As a result the airport will be heavily restricted for takeoffs and landings. That being said, it seems like that would have the opposite effect, since they’d need more high capacity A380s operating flights and fewer low(er) capacity aircraft.

Malaysia? They exclusively operate them to London and Paris, and if they were left with only two A380s then they could only fly one flight per day roundtrip. They don’t really have any comparable aircraft, since they’ve retired all their 747s.

So yeah, I dunno, I’m stumped.

Think it’ll happen, and if so, which airline do you think they’ll wet lease the A380s from?

Comments

  1. Or maybe it’s just a rumor and no wet lease will occur. Which is also possible of course.

    It could also be an airline which should take an A380 delivery very soon and they’ll first lease it out to THY.

  2. Not Thai? Given their tourism decline, and the relative ease of award redemption, they’re certainly in the running..

  3. Amedeo / Doric Leasing just firmed up an order for 20; although I wouldn’t know how they would “Wet Lease” as I’m not sure how they’d provide the crew and such…

  4. @ Trevor — As you mention, don’t think that would really qualify as a “wet lease.” Nonetheless will be interesting to see what happens with those A380s…

  5. Maybe one of the airlines on the list is about to take delivery of some smaller aircraft, which will fit their needs better? Did any of them try out the 380 only to find that they can’t fill them? Not sure how one would go about finding that out, but if we knew that, it would provide a clue…

  6. Come on man… You pretty much copied and pasted this article from airliners.net, don’t you usually provide a citation?

    And if they do get A380s, I’d bet you a dollar that they don’t sell F. Look what they’re doing with the current wet leased 77Ws from Jet Airways – the F cabin is reserved for elite members on J tickets.

  7. Qantas.

    I don’t know if you’ve been following the drama unfolding Down Under, but Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has warned the markets to expect a massive loss for the second half of the 2013 fiscal year. He’ll be announcing the exact numbers on Feb. 27 along with “drastic changes” to the airline. Anything and everything is apparently on the table, and one of the rumours is that Qantas will discontinue service to London altogether in favour of connecting service on Emirates through Dubai.

    Currently, they have a bunch of A380s operating the SYD-DXB-LHR and MEL-DXB-LHR Kangaroo routes. If you eliminate the DXB-LHR legs, that frees up A380s for… where? They’re having trouble filling planes to LAX already, DFW is too far for the A380 without weight restrictions, and YVR and SFO were both cancelled due to a lack of traffic. There really aren’t any other routes that call for A380 capacity at the moment, but those surplus planes need to go somewhere (not to mention the 8 additional A380s Qantas still has on order!) My guess is they’re going to Turkish.

  8. If rumor is true, I think is China Southern. CAPA had an aricle a few month ago and they seem to have lot of regulatory problems to use the A380s and had been flying them unprofitable for quite a while.

  9. I doubt it will be EK. Both EK and TK are geographically close and they compete with each other fiercely. My guess is SQ.
    @Nic CZ (China Southern) is state-owned. It is very unlikely for the upper management to allow CZ to lease A380 to a foreign company.

  10. Are there markets where capacity has been reduced by switching from 747s to 777s? Are A380s cost efficient enough to “create” demand in certain markets (through lower economy fares)?

  11. @ Steve — Well sure, just as Qatar’s CEO denied they were in talks to join OneWorld until the day it was announced.

    Not saying it *will* happen, but rather just that I’d expect the CEO to deny it till it’s set in stone.

  12. I am not very happy with your perception of Germans being distrustful of Turks (they’ve been trying hard to eradicate such prejudice) AND the presumption of Turkish shoddiness your sentence implies.

  13. @ Juergen — Sorry if you interpret it that way, but that’s not the intent and you’re reading too much into it. Germans appreciate punctuality, and Turkish has a horrible on-time record. I don’t think I’ve ever had an on-time flight with them.

  14. @ Rami — I mean I suppose they could come from different airlines, but:
    a) Are there really two airlines willing to give up A380s, and is it worth their while if it’s only one or two planes?
    b) It would likely be more trouble than it’s worth to have only four A380s with multiple configurations.

  15. Why do you say that turkish ended the lease with jet airways? Just last month I flew a 777-300 from BKK-IST and it was a leased Jet airways plane. They only sold business class seats and kept all first class seats blocked until shortly before boarding but then they upgraded a select few of us and reissued our boarding passes. 🙂

  16. My guess is Qf. Grossly incompetent management who will clutch at straws. They are only interested in getting cash out of Qantas and putting it in their back pockets (loss making Jetstar). Interesting rumour this one, No one except Qantas would contemplate buying new aircraft and ‘storing them’, so anything is on the cards re 380’s. If they don’t wet lease them, they will end up with EK one way or another.

  17. I flew BKK-IST in Nov.on a leased jet airways 777-300. At the gate, my seat was changed from 3D to row 18. I asked if the first or second row was available and was upgraded to row 2D, first class suite.

  18. Qantas! Wait for the route and staff cuts to ne announced next week and it is likely QF will have 380’s in excess and ready to wet lease

  19. If this does happen it will be from Air France. They have been dissatisfied with the A380 as it is not a great fit for their network. However, they had to place an order as their government helped to fund the project! So, it would be wise to keep a few for the premium/glamorous routes, such as Paris to New York and Los Angeles etc. but wise to release some of the aircraft on a wet lease and focus their efforts on the soon to arrive 787-9 and A350-900s.

  20. Is there any chance of Skymark being the one Who do the wet lease?

    But only for a few month… It doesn’t seems working for their current situation

    It really look like SQ as they might do this as a joint-venture code sharing SIN-IST. And operate a TATL service

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