ISTANBUL, TÜRKİYE — The world's largest network carrier Turkish Airlines is planning to order up to 70 additional aircraft in 2023, but the airline is severely constrained due to the lack of next-generation narrowbody and widebody jets in the market.

"We are planning to open new routes, but missing widebodies. If we can find them right now, we could easily buy 20 more next-generation widebody aircraft - B787s or A350s - ready to come in 2023," 

Chairman Ahmet Bolat told Aviation Week Network's Kurt Hofmann.

The Turkish flag carrier was expected to take delivery of its remaining ten Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order with Boeing - of which eight were already built - when the FAA cleared the manufacturer to resume production of the type. But it did not happen.

"Nobody knows when Boeing will deliver our Boeing 787s," 

 Bolat said.

Turkish Airlines currently operates fifteen Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on its long-haul routes.

Earlier this year, Turkish Airlines took over six Airbus A350-900s originally intended for Aeroflot to fill the gap in the absence of awaited Boeing 787s. Four of them have already joined the Turkish fleet, while the remaining two will arrive in Istanbul by the end of this year. The carrier currently operates 11 Airbus A350-900s and has 13 on order directly from the European planemaker.

In addition to the lack of new widebodies, Turkish Airlines also suffers from the shortage of narrowbody jets from Airbus and Boeing. Mr. Bolat said the airline aims to add up to 50 next-generation single-aisles aircraft to deploy on new routes in 2023.

"We have the routes where we would need all these aircraft, and also, it gives us advantages to replace our old fleet - about half of the new aircraft would be replacements of older aircraft," 

Bolat explained.

According to the Turkish Chairman, Turkish Airlines is also in talks with the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to order next-gen E2 jets.

The narrowbody fleets of Turkish Airlines and its budget regional subsidiary AnadoluJet consist of six A319-100s, 11 A320-200s, an A320-200neo, 66 A321-200s, 36 A321neos, 79 B737-800s, 27 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and five Boeing 737 MAX 9s.

The country's national flag carrier became the first international operator to return to profit after the global demand for air travel rebounded. The airline had a record net profit of $737 million in the first half of 2022.

Also read: Turkish Airlines sets new records while the sector shrinks globally