By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's national flag carrier will resume its two-way Ankara-Rome direct flights in 2019, the airlines announced Wednesday.
Turkish Airlines — which launched its first service in Italy in 1959 — will restart its operations between the two capital cities after 60 years of hiatus, the airlines said in a statement.
The two-way flights — to be operative twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays — will be effective as of Jan. 7, 2019.
"Within the scope of summer schedule, Turkish Airlines currently operates 131 flights per week through 8 destinations in Italy, including Rome, Milan, Venice, Pisa, Bologna, Naples, Catania and Bari both from Istanbul Ataturk International Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport," the carrier said.
The airline operates direct flights to Rome and Milan from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, it added.
Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has fleet of 330 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes, and flies to more than 300 destinations in over 120 countries.
The airline carried 58 million passengers from January to September 2018, while last year it carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate.
According to the airline's year-end targets, the company expects to carry 75 million passengers — including 33 million on domestic routes, 42 million on international routes — with around an 81-percent passenger load factor.
A total of 50.88 percent of the airline's stocks are publicly traded on Turkey's stock exchange Borsa Istanbul while the rest are owned by the Turkiye Wealth Fund.
The airline was named Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016, and chosen the Best Airline in Southern Europe for the ninth consecutive time in 2017.