Turkish budget carrier Pegasus Airlines expects the next 12 months to be a continuation of the “tough year” experienced in 2018.

The carrier’s CEO made the remark despite a 12% rise in international passengers to 12.3 million last year over 2017.

The airline carried more than 30 passengers, an overall increase of 8% year-on-year.

Net profit came in at 507 million Turkish lira, up from 502 million Turkish lira in 2017, as turnover rose by 55% to 8.3 billion Turkish lira.

CEO Mehmet Nane said: “Rising numbers of tourists helped us to increase our guests on international routes by 12%. Meanwhile, domestic guests grew by 5%.

“We expanded our revenue 1.5 times, and despite rising fuel costs we managed to maintain our profitability. In short, we experienced another year in which we improved every key metric.”

He added: “2019 seems to be a continuation of 2018, which was a tough year. Tourism made a major contribution in 2018 and we expect this to continue in 2019.

“In parallel with this, we believe that the number of passengers travelling with the airline will increase. We make our plans based on this conjecture.

“We strongly believe that the aviation sector is an important one in terms of benefiting from stormy waters, both for our country and our company. For this reason, 2019 is another potential year of growth for us.” 

The airline took delivery of ten aircraft in 2018 expects to add a further 11 from Airbus this year, including the first new generation A321neos.

Nane added: “Digitalisation has been a key focal point for Pegasus in recent years. Our aim with the digital transformation that we began in 2018 is to create digital solutions that simplify and streamline the customer’s experience at every stage of their journey, starting with the purchase of their ticket.

“Our priority is those areas that will have the most positive impact on our passengers’ journeys. In this context, along with our website and mobile applications, we are digitalising the airport and in-flight travel experience.”