SunExpress (XQ, Antalya) has applied for a US Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP) and an exemption to begin charter and ACMI operations between Turkey and the United States.

The Turkish leisure specialist, a joint venture between Lufthansa Group and Turkish Airlines, said it was not planning any scheduled operations between the two countries. Instead, spokeswoman Hannah Gatzka clarified to ch-aviation that SunExpress is planning to operate ACMI/charter operations on behalf of other carriers in the region during the low winter season.

"Due to strong seasonality, SunExpress is exploring the possibility to lease out capacity as of Winter 21/22 to other countries. Because of this, the application was made. SunExpress does not intend to operate to such countries, like the US or Canada," Gatzka said.

The airline did not disclose any further details regarding the potential routes or customers for its charter/ACMI operations.

SunExpress said in its application to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that it "believed" itself to be a Turkish-owned enterprise. According to the filing, Turkish Airlines owns a 49.9996% stake in the carrier. A further 10% stake is owned by two Turkish lawyers, Seda Idil Caga Degerli and Sema Turkan Caga, while a further 0.002% stakes each are owned by Mehmet Ilker Ayci, the Chairman of Turkish Airlines, and Bilal Eksi, the airline's current chief executive. Lufthansa owns the remaining 40% stake. SunExpress requested a waiver from the current control and ownership rules in the event this ownership structure precluded it from being classed as a Turkish-owned enterprise.

The carrier did not disclose its fleet plans for transatlantic operations. It currently operates forty-one B737-800s (with three due for redelivery shortly) and has forty-two B737-8s on firm order from Boeing with deliveries expected to begin by the end of 2021 and continuing through 2029.