While I wasn’t a big fan of Istanbul Ataturk airport, Turkish Airlines ranks among my favorite airlines. As such, I was quite excited to book flights from Japan to Europe with the airline recently. The first thing that my girlfriend did after I booked the flights, however, was Googling “is Turkish Airlines safe?”
It wasn’t the first thing, actually. First, she asked me the same question to which I replied:
Yes, Turkish Airlines is safe to fly with. It’s as safe as any other major airline like ANA, JAL, Lufthansa, or Delta.
If you’re looking for a longer answer that you can form your own opinion based upon, continue reading.
Turkish Airlines Operates a Modern Fleet
Old aircraft are perhaps the first thing that comes to someone’s mind when thinking of an unsafe airline. As such, let’s take a quick look at Turkish Airlines’ fleet.
The airline uses Airbus A320 series and Boeing 737 series aircraft on its short- and medium-haul flights. Those are the same aircraft types that many other airlines ranging from Lufthansa through American Airlines all the way to Japan Airlines use.
One thing I have to note here is that while most of Turkish’s 737s are 737NGs, the airline also owns a few 737MAX aircraft. Those are, however, grounded at this point, and so you don’t have to worry about ending up on one.
For medium- and long-haul flights (and even some shorter flights), Turkish Airlines uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft as well. According to Airfleets.net, its Airbus A330s are 7.2 years old on average and its 777-300ERs are 5.3 years old. Its 787s are brand new.
The average age of Turkish Airlines’ is 7 years. That’s on par with or younger than many other major airlines’ fleets. Just as an example, Lufthansa aircraft’s average age is 11.9 years, United Airlines’ is 15.5 years, and Emirates’ is 6.6 years.
Turkish Airlines Is IOSA-Certified and a Member of Star Alliance
Turkish Airlines has the highest possible, seven-star safety rating on AirlineRatings.com. While I don’t think airlines with lower rating are necessarily unsafe, I think a seven-star rating is a good indicator of an airline being safe to fly.
The rating is based on the following:
- Turkish Airlines is IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certified. The audit is optional and assesses whether an airline has the necessary systems and processes in place to operate safely.
- The airline is not blacklisted in the European Union and the United States.
- Turkey performed favorably in the ICAO Country Audit which looks at a country’s airline regulations from the safety perspective.
- Turkish Airlines didn’t have a fatal accident in the last 10 years.
Besides the above, Turkish Airlines is also a member of Star Alliance, one of the three major airline alliances. While that’s not a safety certification per se, it’s still a significant stamp of approval.
Airlines in Star Alliance include Lufthansa, United Airlines, Austrian, ANA All Nippon Airways, and Air China among others.
Turkish Airlines Incidents and Accidents
In the interest of full disclosure, Turkish Airlines’ safety record is not perfectly clean. While the airline did not have a fatal accident in the last 10 years, it had one ten and a half years ago.
Three incidents and accidents in the airline’s recent history are worth noting.
The first of those is the crash of Turkish Airlines flight 1951 on final approach to Amsterdam on February 25, 2009. That’s Turkish Airlines last deadly accident – nine out of 135 people onboard the 737-800 were killed.
The second is a runway excursion that took place on March 3, 2015, in Kathmandu. While the aircraft, an A330-300, suffered serious damage, no one onboard was injured.
Finally on April 25, 2015, Turkish Airlines flight 1878 had a landing accident at Istanbul Ataturk airport. The A320 involved in the accident was severely damaged, however, all of the crew and passengers evacuated the aircraft without any serious injuries.
Summary: Is Flying with Turkish Airlines Safe?
While seeing Turkey on the news or reading about Turkish Airlines’ past incidents and accidents might make it seem like flying with Turkish Airlines is not a good idea, I would disagree with that.
The ever changing political situation in Turkey had, historically, more or less no effect on the airline – especially so on its transfer passengers. Also, while the airline doesn’t have a spotless safety track record, it still recorded less fatalities in the last decade than some other major airlines.
That combined with the fact that the airline has a modern fleet is enough for me to believe that Turkish Airlines is safe to fly with. Not only that, but as long as the price is right, I would even select Turkish Airlines over many other major airlines due to their good service onboard.