Turkish Airlines (TK, Istanbul Airport) has deferred its much-awaited record order for up to 600 aircraft by around two months, to late summer 2023, to take into consideration the impact of the recent Turkish presidential elections and avoid rushing the future-defining decision.

"The election of the new government took longer than expected. We were very close to making a deal with one of the engine manufacturers. To be fair to the other manufacturer, we are going to delay a decision for around two months. We are not going to rush our decision at Paris Le Bourget [the Paris Air Show], so we will have a separate announcement in Istanbul in about two months," Chairman Ahmet Bolat said during a press conference at the IATA AGM in Istanbul, where the airline was initially expected to announce the order,

Bolat reiterated that the commitment would be split between 400 narrowbodies and 200 widebodies. Without offering any hints about the makeup of the order, Bolat said that Turkish Airlines was in conversations with both Airbus and Boeing.

The announcement will likely combine contracts from both manufacturers. The Turkish aerospace industry is expected to be somehow included in the contract, although the details have yet to be revealed.

The widebody part of the order would likely comprise 25 new-generation long-range aircraft, either the B777-9s or the A350-1000s.

Bolat said that the previously touted order for regional jets was deferred until after the narrow- and widebody fleet is contracted. He pointed out engine issues plaguing both the A220s and the E2s, which complicated this decision.

Australia plans

Bolat confirmed that Turkish Airlines would launch services to Australia by the end of 2023. Initially, the airline will operate just 3x weekly to Melbourne Tullamarine via Singapore Changi. The Chairman conceded that this was a suboptimal offer, but improvements would only be possible with new-generation widebodies. The airline does not need fifth-freedom traffic rights between Singapore and Australia as the market is already well-served. The ch-aviation schedules module shows that Turkish Airlines flies 10x weekly between Istanbul Airport and Singapore currently.

Melbourne was selected due to a more limited international offer and a substantial Turkish diaspora in the city.

Going forward, Turkish Airlines will seek to increase the frequency of Melbourne flights to daily while also adding daily services t Sydney Kingsford Smith. In the long-term, Brisbane International and Perth International are also under analysis.

Oceania is the last continent not currently served by Turkish Airlines.