Turkish Airlines and Rolls Royce celebrate ongoing strategic partnership      

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Turkish Airlines and Rolls Royce discussed the companies’ ongoing cooperation to support and grow Turkey’s position in the global aerospace industry as the two aerospace giants met in Istanbul on April 29, 2024. 

Meeting at the Turkish national carrier’s headquarters, Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of Rolls-Royce, and Professor Ahmet Bolat, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines signed a joint statement at a special ceremony.  

In attendance were the Ministers of Industry & Technology, Trade, Transport & Infrastructure, and the Deputy Minister of National Defence. Also present were the representatives of top Turkish Aerospace companies as well as the British Consul General, and undersecretaries of France and Spain. They were joined by Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, Christian Scherer, Airbus commercial CEO, and Rob Watson, President of Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce. 

The joint statement follows the historic Turkish Airlines order for 80 Airbus A350 aircraft placed in December 2023 (with a further 25 options). This deal, which included an order for 120 Trent XWB-84 engines and 40 Trent XWB-97 engines (excluding options and spares) made  Turkish Airlines the world’s largest operator of the Trent XWB engine that powers the Airbus A350 wide-bodied aircraft of which Turkish Airlines already operates 18. 

Turkish Airlines Airbus A350-900
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As part of Rolls-Royce’s long-term strategy and commitment to Turkey, the company is exploring the implementation of several industrial initiatives. These include the potential development of a competitive Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) capability and further supply chain sourcing. Rolls-Royce estimates that these projects could have a significant positive impact on the Turkish economy over the coming years. 

“Turkey is a strategically important market for Rolls-Royce across our business”, said Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO, of Rolls-Royce. “We are very pleased with the confidence that Turkish Airlines has placed in our Trent XWB engines. We now look forward to working with Turkish Airlines and our partners to use our extensive aerospace engineering experience to benefit the Turkish economy, grow the country’s skills base, and expand its role in the energy transition.”  

“I am personally very energized by the strengthening relationship between our great company, Turkish Airlines, and the Republic of Turkey”, Erginbilgic added. 

“Over the past 15 years, Rolls-Royce has been a significant partner for Turkish Airlines,” said Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, Prof. Ahmet Bolat. “With this latest acquisition, we are poised to become the largest operator of XWB engines. This acquisition is a key milestone in our partnership, offering a mutually beneficial strategy for Rolls-Royce and Türkiye”.  

“As part of this strategy, we have agreed to establish a Steering Committee. Through this committee, designated projects will be executed based on their performance, competitiveness, and quality criteria” he added. 

“The remarkable growth of the Turkish aviation industry in the last two decades positions this committee to elevate the ecosystem to new heights and provide greater value-added contributions to not only Turkey but also the global aviation industry. Through this initiative, we aim to create a sustainable and mutually beneficial environment for both the Turkish aviation industry and Rolls-Royce,” Bolat concluded. 

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Are more aircraft orders coming? 

At the same gathering, Bolat stated that Turkish Airlines is already negotiating with both Airbus and Boeing to buy an additional 235 aircraft as part of its expansion plans. The airline’s 10-year fleet plan, unveiled in 2023 shows the airline aims to expand by almost 600 planes. In December 2023, it announced a deal with Airbus for 355 firm and optional orders for A321 narrow-body and A350 wide-body aircraft. 

“We are negotiating with both Airbus and Boeing for the remaining 235 planes,” Bolat said. He added that Turkish Airlines “has always followed a balanced policy between Airbus and Boeing”, going on to state that the carrier was waiting for problems faced by Boeing to end, and the carrier was not in a hurry to reach a final decision. 

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