Turkish Airlines has arrived in a big way in Houston, celebrating its inaugural flight — which took off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport's Terminal D on Monday evening — with two days of festivities and an NBA outing.
(At a luncheon on Tuesday, Mayor Annise Parker boasted about how Omer Asik, the tall Turkish-born center for the Houston Rockets, performed well for his out-of-town fans and helped his team to an important win over the Orlando Magic the night before.)
Initial once-daily flights will depart from Houston at 7:50 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but as Houston Airport System executive director Mario Diaz pointed out at the luncheon, the ambitious carrier added two additional weekly flights before service out of IAH even commenced.
"Texas' future, Houston's future, involves opening ourselves up to business with the rest of the world."
Beginning July 3, service will also take place on Wednesdays and Sundays, and Hamdi Topçu, chairman of Turkish Airlines, foresees that the frequency to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport will soon be increased to multiple daily departures.
The carrier, which also flies from New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, has grown from just more than 50 aircraft a decade ago to its position today as the third largest in Europe in terms of passenger numbers.
Parker noted that Houston has a longstanding relationship with Istanbul and a thriving Turkish community. She anticipates that the city will benefit economically and tourism-wise from the new flights, which links travelers to Turkish Airlines' 220 destinations (and counting).
"Texas' future, Houston's future, involves opening ourselves up to business with the rest of the world," said Parker, who will lead a Houston delegation on a trade mission to Istanbul and Ankara later this month.
Introductory round-trip fares start at $599.