Melbourne will join one of the largest airline networks in the world when Turkish Airlines begins flights from Istanbul in March.

Türkiye's national carrier confirmed today it has chosen the Victorian capital to launch its first ever flights to Australia.

The service will initially operate three times a week via Singapore using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with the airline intending to increase to daily over time and planning to fly directly between Istanbul and Melbourne upon delivery of new aircraft.

Turkish Airlines already flies to the most countries of any carrier in the world, including an extensive network through Europe and Africa.

It will become the only European airline to fly to Melbourne Airport, which proudly serves Australia’s largest city.

Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation Jim Parashos said Turkish Airlines’ arrival will provide Australians with easy connections into Türkiye and beyond.

“Istanbul is the only city to straddle two continents and has always been an important trading post, but it is now also one of the most important transit hubs in the world,” he said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Turkish Airlines to Melbourne, not only because of its world-renowned hospitality, but also because of the new possibilities it enables for travellers.

“It’s no surprise that Turkish Airlines has chosen Melbourne as its first Australian destination, given we are home to the nation’s largest Turkish community and our position as the capital of food, sport and culture.

“These flights have been made possible thanks to the certainty provided by the relaxation of the federal government’s bilateral air services agreement with Türkiye.

“Last month Melbourne Airport became the first capital city in Australia to exceed its pre-pandemic international seat capacity, and Turkish Airlines’ announcement today cements that recovery.

“Türkiye is already a popular holiday destination, but we expect these new flights will encourage more Australians to explore what the country has to offer, while also enticing more people to visit our incredible part of the world.”

The first flight from Istanbul is due to arrive on Saturday 16 March with services from Melbourne to initially operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday before shifting to Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.