On 20 May 1933, the State Airline Administration (Hava Yolları Devlet İşletme İdaresi) was found with two King Bird, two Junkers F-13 and one Tupolev ANT-9. It was connected to the Ministry of Public Works in 1935 and to the Ministry of Transport in 1938. The company was named Devlet Hava Yolları Umum Müdürluğu.
In 1945, DHY purchased thirty Douglas DC-3 aircraft from the United States via Egypt for a price of 20.000 USD. With this plane, the airline flew its first international flight from Ankara via Istanbul to Athens on 12 February 1947.
On 21 May 1955, the airline was renamed Turkish Airlines (Türk Hava Yolları).
On 1 September 1967, the airline entered the jet age with the first Douglas DC-9-15. The aircraft flew its first flight from Ankara via Istanbul to Brussels and was leased for 15.000 USD per month.
December 1973 First widebody aircraft. McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10, first in Europe. Flight TK981 on 3 March 1974 Paris. Istanbul – Paris – London. BEA strike. Rugby finals, faulty cargo door.
Founded in October 1989 as a joint venture between Turkish Airlines (50%) and Lufthansa (50%). First flight 2 April1990 with a flight from Frankfurt to Antalya.