Update 27 February 2021: Turkish Airlines now displays the new flights to Urmia in its reservation system. The launch date is 29 March 2021, with two weekly flights from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport operated by Anadolujet. Urmia would become Turkish Airlines’ first and only Iranian destination with flights operated exclusively by Anadolujet to Istanbul-SAW. Further changes remain possible; the flight details might be a temporary ‘dummy’.
|Frequency||Flight number||From||To||Departure time||Arrival time|
Turkish Airlines has officially announced its plans to launch flights to Urmia. In 2016, the Turkish carrier announced its intention to launch a new route to either Bandar Abbas, Yazd, Urmia, or Rasht. The chosen new destination, now known, would have become the airline’s eighth Iranian destination at the time. However, since then, Turkish Airlines has shelved its routes to Kermanshah and Ahvaz, making Urmia the sixth Iranian destination. This will be Turkish Airlines’ first new route to Iran since the launch of flights to Ahvaz in March 2015.
In a public announcement published today, 26 February 2021, Turkish Airlines states that the “Incorporation has decided to start operating scheduled flights, based on market conditions, to Urmia of Iran”. Flight details and launch date are not public yet but the disclosure should be imminent.
In March 2021, Turkish Airlines will fully restore its Iran network as flights to Shiraz resumes, the only route not yet resumed. As reported, Tabriz in East Azerbaijan Province was prioritised when Turkish Airlines returned to Iran after route suspensions caused by the pandemic. Urmia is located in the same area and is a 150-kilometer drive to Tabriz. The two West and East Azerbaijan Provinces of Iran, where Urmia and Tabriz are located respectively are located near the Turkish border, with Urmia being only 35 kilometers away. Turkish Airlines’ recent focus on the northwestern provinces of Iran could be motivated by the region’s closer ties to Turkey in many respects. This is reflected by the fact that Tabriz is the only Iranian city, besides the capital of Tehran, where also Iranian airlines (ATA Airlines and Iran Airtour) operate flights to Istanbul in addition to Turkish Airlines. The population size is significant too. Urmia is the tenth-largest Iranian city and has a population of close to one million, while the entire province has around 3.5 million inhabitants.
Curiously, Turkish Airlines will have essentially served all ten possible largest cities in Iran following the Urmia launch.
|Rank||City||Served by Turkish Airlines|
|4||Karaj||No; no fully operational airport. A satellite city of Tehran, ca. 20 km distance.|
|7||Qom||No; no airport.|
|8||Ahvaz||Last served in 2019.|
|9||Kermanshah||Last served in 2017.|
|10||Urmia||To be served.|
Turkish Airlines will be the only international airline to operate flights to Urmia Airport, also connecting the city to the wider Star Alliance network.
Photo: Bardia Saadat, YJC (Urmia Lake)