Turkish Airlines (TK, Istanbul Atatürk) plans to temporarily operate a dual cargo hub in Istanbul with bellyhold cargo routed through Istanbul New and full freighter operations through Istanbul Atatürk, Senior Vice-President (Cargo) Fatih Cigal told Asia Cargo News.

The new airport, due to fully open on December 29, will initially allow the Turkish flag carrier to carry as much as 2 million tonnes of cargo per year. Currently, its cargo throughput at the Atatürk airport stands at some 1.3 million tonnes per year. Eventually, once the new airport is expanded according to the plan, it will have a cargo capacity of some 6 million tonnes per year, of which one-third will be dedicated to airlines other than Turkish Airlines.

While the carrier plans to extensively use the new airport and its cargo facilities, it will initially concentrate on bellyhold cargo.

In general, Turkish Airlines is optimising its cargo schedules to avoid load transfers between a full freighter and a passenger aircraft. Currently, around one-third of all cargo undergoes such a transfer; Turkish Airlines aims to reduce it to no more than one-fifth. In order to facilitate such transfers between airports, the carrier plans to launch a 150-truck road bridge between them.

Going forward, Turkish Airlines plans to eventually move all cargo operations at the new airport as Atatürk is slated for closure.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Turkish Airlines currently has fourteen in-house freighters, including ten A330-200(F)s and four B777-Fs. It also wet-leases three A310-300(F)s from ULS Airlines Cargo and two B747-400(F)s from Kalitta Air.

Cigal said that the carrier's plans for new cargo destinations include Bangalore Int'l, cities in Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia, Caracas Simón Bolivar, Quito Int'l, Panamá City Tocumen Int'l, and new destinations in Brazil.