TURKISH Airlines’ decision to begin direct flights between Melbourne and Istanbul will open up air freight export opportunities, the Victorian Government says.

Minister for jobs and industry Natalie Hutchins has announced Turkish Airlines will make its Australian debut with thrice-weekly flights from Melbourne, beginning in March, with the potential to increase to daily frequency.

This is the first time an airline has offered direct flights between Türkiye and Australia.

Ms Hutchins said a daily service would add 109,500 seats to Melbourne each year, contribute more than $132 million annually to the state’s economy and create an estimated 840-plus jobs in Victoria’s aviation and tourism sectors.

The new flights will connect Türkiye to Australia’s largest Türkiye-born community, and boost Victoria’s access to key European, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and African markets via its hub in Istanbul.

The Türkiye, Middle East and Africa region is one of Victoria’s major trading partners, with two-way merchandise trade valued at $5.48 billion in 2022-23.

Daily flights by Turkish Airlines would add 3650 tonnes of air freight capacity annually.

Turkish Airlines will commence its direct flights to Melbourne via Singapore, with plans to acquire new aircraft with the ability to operate the Istanbul to Melbourne service non-stop in the future.