WASHINGTON — As airlines grapple with production challenges that have delayed the delivery of jets ordered prior to the pandemic, Airbus and Boeing are racking up billions of dollars in new orders extending beyond 2030, fueled by a resurgence in air travel. 

Carriers such as Air India, Ryanair, and Saudi Arabia's new national airline have placed firm or provisional orders for 700 aircraft.

Turkish Airlines recently announced plans to order 600 jets in June, marking the fourth mega-deal in just a few months and surpassing Air India's record order of 470 Airbus and Boeing planes. The Turkish carrier's ambitious 10-year strategic plan aims to serve 170 million passengers by 2033, up from over 85 million in 2023, positioning the airline as a "mega-connector" between Europe, Asia, and Africa.

However, industry insiders have expressed surprise at the announcement's timing, coming just before Turkey's May 14 elections, and the simultaneous emphasis on strategic aerospace projects such as a fighter jet, attack helicopter, and drones. The massive order could also be affected by broader political discussions, including Turkey's opposition to Sweden joining NATO.

Despite potential uncertainties, Turkish Airlines' announcement signals a strong intention to compete for market share in a post-pandemic landscape without waiting for global supply chains to stabilize. Istanbul, with its new $12 billion airport opened by President Tayyip Erdogan in 2018, is considered an ideal location to challenge major hubs in Dubai and Doha.

The race to secure aircraft is intensifying, as carriers such as Ryanair admit to paying higher prices to lock in limited supplies of narrow-body planes for the coming decade. However, some industry experts warn that multiple airlines competing for the same travel demand could lead to an overhang and reduced profits.

The current aircraft order boom also raises concerns about potential inflationary risks and increased pressure to reduce emissions. Critics argue that ordering planes so far in advance may distract from the development of a new generation of single-aisle jets expected to become available by the mid- to late 2030s.