On the 20th of May, 1933, law no. 2186 laid the foundation for the « State Airlines Administration » in Ankara, as a department of the Ministry of Defence.
In its early days, the airline operated one King Bird, 2 Junkers F-13s, and one ATH-9.
After being turned over to the Ministry of Public Works in 1935, the airline changed its name to « General Directorate of State Airlines » and was operated under the Ministry of Transportation just three years later.
In 1945, the first Douglas DC-3 was added to the fleet, while the first international flight, Ankara-Istanbul-Athens, took place two years later.
During early 1956, the airline was reorganized, changing its name to Türk Hava Yollar? A.O. having a capital of 60 million TL.
During the late 1950s, F-27 and Vickers Viscount aircraft are added to the fleet, followed by the first DC-9 jets, in 1967.
In 1971, the first Boeing 707 joined the fleet, followed by F-28s and DC-10s only two years later, and Boeing 727s, in 1974.
In 1984, the capital was raised to 60 billion TL, and the airline was reclassified as a State Economic Enterprise.
One year later, Airbus A310s were added to the fleet.
In 1987, the capital was raised to 150 billion TL, one year after Singapore joined the network, and one year before New York (via Brussels) was added.
In 1991, Boeing 737s were added to the fleet and the registered capital reached 2 trillion TL.
Two years later, THT (Turkish Air Transportation) merged with Turkish Airlines, and new aircraft joined the fleet (Airbus A340-300 and RJ-100).
In 1994, direct flights to New York were introduced, and registered capital was raised to no less than 6 trillion TL, only to reach 10 trillion TL the following year.
In the following years, the fleet continued to receive new aircraft, and various new routes were introduced.
The Frequent Flyer Program « Miles&Smiles » was launched in October, 2000.
In 2001, as new routes and aircraft continued to join in, the Reservation Call Center (444 0 THY / 444 0 849) service was inaugurated.
Turkish Airlinws decided to join the Star Alliance on the 4th of August, 2006, in the middle of a period of sustained growth on all levels.
In 2007, Turkish Airlines Star Ranking status has been upgraded from 3 Star to that of a 4 Star Quality Certified Airline status.
In April, 2008, Turkish Airlines was the seventh European airline that joined Star Alliance, becoming the 20th member of the network.
In 2009, Turkish Airlines and Asiana Airlines have signed a codeshare agreement.
Beginning 2010, Turkish Airlines has been ranked continuously as the best airline in Southern Europe.
From 2011, for three years in a row, Turkish Airlines was ranked among the first ten in The World’s Top Airlines and the best airline in Europe.
In 2012, Turkish Airlines was the first European airline to resume flights to Somalia since the start of that country’s civil war.
In 2013, Turkish Airlines has continued to expand and rejuvenate its fleet ordering 117 aircraft from Airbus and 95 aircraft from Boeing all to be delivered until 2021.
In 2014, Turkish Airlines presented the first aircraft equipped with new seats created and built by a partnership between Turkish Airlines, Turkish Seats Industries and Turkish Technic. The seats will be installed initially on B737-800 aircraft, and then on the A319, A320 and A321 aircraft.
At the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards, Turkish Airlines won the Best Airline in Europe award for the 6th year in a row. Turkish Airlines won three other awards: Best Airline in Southern Europe, Best Business Class Dining Lounge, and Best Business Class Onboard Catering. For the eighth consecutive year, the airline was voted Best Airline in Southern Europe.
In May 2017, Turkish Airlines announced a new agreement with TSA Pre✓, a program that allows travelers to go through security faster, saving time and stress and without having to remove many of their personal accessories.
In 2018, Turkish Airlines continued to grow, transporting 75.2 million passengers, up 9.5% over the previous year, and expanding its network to become the fourth-largest flight network globally with the highest number of countries and international destinations worldwide. The airline also placed orders for 30 Airbus A350-900 and 30 Boeing B787-9 to be delivered between 2019 and 2023.
In April 2019, Turkish Airlines relocated to its new hub, Istanbul Airport, which took Atatürk Airport’s IST code. In June, Turkish Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner featuring an all-new Business Class cabin.
In September 2019, Turkish Airlines was named 2020 Five Star Global Airline in the APEX Official Airline Ratings for the third consecutive year. The APEX Official Airline Ratings solely relies on passengers’ feedback on overall flight experience and five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, Wi-Fi, and entertainment.
In February 2020, Turkish Airlines added its 319th destination to its flight network, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Malabo is also the 60th destination in Africa. Turkish Airlines operates scheduled services to 126 countries, more than any other airline. With 319 destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Turkish Airlines is the fourth-largest carrier in the world by the number of destinations. It also serves the most non-stop destinations from a single airport than any other airline in the world.
During its long history, Turkish Airlines was only involved in 3 accidents on international routes, and 18 on domestic flights. The first accident occurred in 1959, when a Vickers Viscount Type 793 crashed in heavy fog at London Gatwick Airport, just before landing, causing 14 fatalities of the 24 people on board. The last deadly accident involving Turkish Airlines took place on the 25th of February, 2009, when a Boeing 737-800 crashed near Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, killing 9 of the 135 people on board.
In January 2017, Turkish Airlines Flight 6491, a Boeing 747-412F crashed into a residential area upon attempting to land at Manas International Airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, killing all four crew members and at least 34 people on the ground. Because the aircraft was operated for Turkish Airlines under a wet lease agreement with ACT Airlines, Turkish Airlines called it an « ACT Airlines accident » because neither aircraft nor crew were theirs. However, under IATA rules, the flight was still operated under a Turkish Airlines flight number, making it a Turkish Airlines flight.