ISTANBUL/SAMSUN, Turkey

Turkey’s flag carrier conducted a special flight Tuesday from Istanbul to the Black Sea province of Samsun where the Turkish national struggle began 101 years ago.

The flight marked May 19, the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day.

The plane, carrying 9 million symbolic passengers, landed in Samsun where first steps taken for War of Independence

Around 9 million people received a “TK1919” online tickets for the empty flight that was dubbed a “historical journey” by the airline.

The hashtags #TK1919 and #TarihiYolculuk, referring to the historical journey, were trending topics on social media as Turks shared their tickets online.

May 19 is a milestone in Turkish history when Mustafa Kemal arrived in Samsun from Istanbul in 1919 to launch the war that transformed the nation into modern Turkey four years later.

Ataturk dedicated May 19 as Youth and Sports Day — a national holiday for youngsters to stage sporting and cultural activities and official ceremonies organized across Turkey.

Turkish Airlines suspended all domestic and international flights until May 28 as a public safety measure against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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