In October 1989, SunExpress was founded as a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. SunExpress started as a charter airline based in Antalya, Turkey, with the goal to make use of the touristic potential of the Turkish region of Antalya. Today, the airline operates scheduled and chartered flights from Turkey and Germany to various destinations in Europe, Asia and North Africa.
In April 1990, with a fleet consisting of a single Boeing 737-300, SunExpress started operations with a charter service between Antalya and Frankfurt.
In 1993, a fifth Boeing 737-400 was added to the SunExpress fleet and entered service in November.
In 1995, the Lufthansa Group transferred all its SunExpress shares to Condor.
In 1996, SunExpress carried 900000 passengers, of which 78 percent came from Germany. Almost two-thirds of the passengers were booked on flights to Antalya. The market share in Germany grew by 20 percent. Late Night Check-in was introduced at many German airports in November.
In 1997, SunExpress expanded its family service by offering separate check-in (Family Counters were introduced at several airports in July), preferred boarding for families with children and free baby buggy service.
In April 2001, SunExpress started operating scheduled services with its first Antalya-Frankfurt flight. SunExpress was the first private airline in Turkey to offer international scheduled flights. In 2001, for the first time, SunExpress carried more than one million passengers.
In 2006, Izmir became the second SunExpress hub, next to Antalya. Increasing its scheduled flights rapidly, SunExpress also started to operate domestic flights within Turkey.
In 2007, all SunExpress shares were retaken from Condor by the Lufthansa Group.
In 2008, Sabiha Gokcen International Airport became the third SunExpress hub in Turkey.
In 2010, SunExpress celebrated its 20th anniversary with a comprehensive rebranding and product enhancement, including the launch of SunExpress’ frequent flyer programme – SunPoints, a new corporate identity (new logo and livery, new corporate colors and uniforms), and six new Boeing 737-800 added to the fleet.
In 2011, SunExpress Deutschland, SunExpress’ German subsidiary, was established in order to explore emerging markets and keep the constant growth upright. SunExpress Deutschland started business operations in June, and, besides the Turkish destinations, it also serves attractive destinations on the Red Sea, in Egypt, Canary Island, Morocco, etc.
In 2012, SunExpress expanded its business area to wet lease (ACMI) operations; for the first time, SunExpress operated flights for Turkish Airlines and AnadoluJet.
In 2014, SunExpress placed an order for 50 Boeing aircraft, including 40 firm orders and 10 options. The order includes 25 B737-800 NGs (New Generation) and 15 B737-8 MAXs, and the option applies to ten B737-8 MAXs. The new aircraft will be delivered gradually between 2015 and 2021.
In 2015, SunExpress operated long-haul flights for Lufthansa under the Eurowings brand.
From 2015, SunExpress Deutschland operates long-haul flights for Lufthansa under the Eurowings brand with 7 leased Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
In 2016, SunExpress and SunExpress Deutschland, its German subsidiary, have transported a total of 7.9 million passengers putting SunExpress in the top 20 European airline groups.
In January 2017, Jens Bischof became Managing Director of SunExpress. From 1990, when he started his career with Lufthansa, Jens Bischof held various positions, the latest being Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President of Sales.
In 2017, SunExpress registered a record turnover of 1.15 billion Euros and carried 8.8 million passengers, 10% than in 2016. SunExpress is the market leader on the Turkish tourist routes, especially on routes to Antalya, Anatolia, and Izmir.
In June 2018, SunExpress launched four new routes from London Luton to Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, and Gaziantep. For the summer schedule, almost 30 new routes were added to the network, while SunExpress’ annual scheduled seat capacity rose by 53% versus 2017.
No fatal accidents involving SunExpress were registered so far.