Turkish Airlines has launched a service from Birmingham International Airport to Istanbul.

The flight will operate five times a week and provides Midlanders with the opportunity to fly from their local airport direct to Istanbul for the first time.

The service, which had 167 passengers on its inaugural flight from Birmingham, offers 140 worldwide onward connections from Istanbul to major business and leisure centres, including Bangkok, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Delhi, Bombay and Singapore.

The arrival of Turkish Airlines at BIA adds a further 20 new destinations to the airport’s global connections which has now reached 422 direct and one stop destinations.

Joining the celebrations at the inaugural launch BIA chief executive Paul Kehoe said: “We are delighted to welcome the national flag carrier of Turkey to Birmingham and proud to have such a well established carrier in our growing schedule.

“It is excellent news for the region as it now provides even more connections throughout Turkey, the Middle East and Asia from the Midlands.”

Flights on Mondays and Thursday will arrive in Birmingham at 10.30am and depart to Istanbul at 11.30am.

The remaining flights, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, will arrive at 12.15pm and depart at 1.15pm. The timings are to allow the shortest possible connection times to the banks of worldwide departures from Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul hub.

Fares from Birmingham with Turkish Airlines start from £180 return, including taxes.

Bookings can be made by calling the airline’s reservations number on 0844 800 66 66, online at www.thy.com or through local travel agents.