Turkish LCC Pegasus Airlines’ predicted rebound from 2016’s losses materialized in 2017, with the Istanbul-based carrier recording a TL501 million ($131.5 million) net profit, compared to a loss of TL136.2 million in the previous year.

It achieved the result on revenues that increased 44% to TL5.3 billion.

Pegasus, like other Turkish carriers, was hit by a series of geopolitical events in 2016, including a freeze in its inbound Russian tourism market following the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by Turkish forces. Tourists from throughout Europe were also scared off by a series of terrorist attacks, including one on Istanbul Ataturk Airport in June 2016, and an attempted military coup the same year.

The tourists started to return from the important Russian market in 2017 following a rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow. Partly as a result of this, Pegasus added four new Russian destinations to its route map, taking the total to seven.

Passenger numbers grew by 15.2% to 27.8 million; the growth was particularly noticeable on international services, which saw 21.7% year-on-year growth, while the carrier’s extensive domestic network saw an increase of 10.5%.

Load factor rose 6.1%, to 84.5%.

Revenue, measured in RASK, improved 9% to 3.97c (euro/US 1c), while costs measured in CASK dipped 3% to 3.66c. CASK excluding fuel dropped 10% to 2.54c.

The airline is making major efforts to increase its ancillary revenue, which jumped 41% to TL1.15 billion in 2017. The company described this as “on target”, with further increases to come.

CEO Mehmet Nane had previously predicted that 2017 would be a year of recovery, with “real growth” beginning in 2018.

“The positive trends in the [aviation] sector and our own company confirm our beliefs. In 2018, Pegasus aims to increase its guest numbers and capacity by between 11 and 13%.”

To help cope with this increase, Pegasus plans to recruit approximately 1,400 new staff over the course of 2018, as well as improving its levels of customer service by equipping cabin crew and ground staff with tablet computers, rather than traditional paperwork.

The airline is in the middle of switching from Boeing 737-800s to Airbus A320neo-family aircraft. In 2017, it sold 12 737-800s and took on six A320s; by 2017 year-end, its fleet consisted of 48 737-800s (plus a single -400), together with 12 A320ceos and 15 A320neos. Pegasus will take on a further 10 A320s in 2018, taking the total fleet to 81. Of those, four will be owned, while 38 will be on financial lease and 39 on operational lease.

In Dec. 2017 the company converted 25 options to firm orders for A321neos.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com