Ahmet Olmustur. chief marketing officer of Turkish Airlines told reporters at the Arabian Travel Market 2016 yesterday the airline has several options on leasing aircraft. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Turkish Airlines could lease Airbus A380s until the European plane maker is ready to build a new, more fuel efficient version of the double-decker superjumbo.

The Istanbul-based carrier is looking at using ultra-wide bodies, including the Boeing 747, to serve markets such as the United States, China and India, where it says it needs more capacity.

Turkish Airlines leasing the superjumbos could open up a new second-hand market for Airbus, who has sold just five A380s in the past 16 months. British Airways parent IAG said in January it could add five or six used A380s to its order of 12.

There are a lot of A380s being used around the world and some owners have already spoken to Turkish Airlines about leasing the aircraft to them, Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur told Gulf News in an interview in Dubai on Tuesday.

“We have some options,” he said at the Arabian Travel Market.

Turkish Airlines turned down an offer from struggling Malaysian Airlines last year to take their A380s off their hands. Olmustur reportedly told Bloomberg on Tuesday those talks have resumed.

Olmustur declined to say when Turkish Airlines could make a decision on leasing or buying the ultra-wide bodies, telling Gulf News the airline is “just waiting for the right time to make the decision.” He said the larger cargo capacity in the 747 appeals to Turkish.

“The new generation of the A380s is coming. You have to make sure which one is more useful to Turkish Airlines,” Olmustur said.

Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of the superjumbos, has been calling for Airbus to commit to building a “neo” version of the A380. Airbus has suggested that the A380neo would not be ready until at least the mid-2020s if it was to go ahead with building it.

Falling point-to-point traffic

A spate of terror attacks in Turkey, including suicide bombings attacking tourism sites in Istanbul, led to a 20 per cent drop in the number of passengers travelling to the country in the first quarter, Olmustur said.

Terror group Daesh and Kurdish separatist group the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and other countries, have claimed separate attacks in the country.

Turkish Airlines has also seen a 60 per cent drop in passenger travelling on Russian routes since the Turkish and Russian governments fell out with each other after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in November, according to Olmustur.

The Russian government issued a number of sanctions on Turkey, including its travel sector, following the incident.