Sun Express at the Aviation Club UK

Article from TNU MAY 2024

Committee member Max Kingsley-Jones, he of Cirium Ascend Consultancy, conducted a fireside interview with Max Kownatzki, CEO of SunExpress, on 17 April.

Max Kownatzki (left) answers Max Kingsly Jones questions.

The Turkey-based airline is a 50/50 joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. Its network spans 200 routes and 68 destinations across 35 countries. It carried 12m passengers in 2023. It has an all-Boeing 737 fleet comprising 737NGs and Max, with a further 74 Max orders plus options on 45. The fleet this summer will increase to 77 with Max deliveries and short-term ACMI capacity. The orderbook will allow the fleet to grow to 150 aircraft in 2033 and to 166 by 2035.

The carrier placed a large order at Dubai 2023 for 45 737 Max (28-8s and 17-10s), plus options for 45, with deliveries scheduled between 2028 to 2035. The airline’s first -10s are due to be delivered in 2028, unless the airline exercises an “upgauge” option on its earlier 737-8 orders. Kownatzki said that it is due to take five Max in 2024 and no delays expected. SunExpress is talking to Boeing about a further five Max deliveries in 2025 but any delays could be offset by extending its 737NG leases.

Kownatzki said that the fleet is currently not big enough to consider diversification to operate Airbus aircraft, but that could change when it reaches 150 aircraft in the next decade. “With 166 aircraft we’re shooting for in 2035…then it’s important to basically not be dependent on one single aircraft manufacturer”.  He added that having engine choice and availability is “even more critical” than aircraft manufacturer concentration, he says, which makes diversification a pressing factor.

The Aviation Club’s programme for the rest of the year includes a networking drinks on 6 June for YAP’s (Young Aviation Persons) at the Royal Overseas League.

Mehmet Nane, Chairperson of Pegasus Airlines, Thursday 13 June

Arjan Meijer, President & CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation, Thursday 5 September

Tony Douglas, CEO Riyadh Air Wednesday 6 November 

Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, Tuesday 3 December

Put the dates in your diary.