The airline was established in October 1989 and started operations in April 1990 with a charter service between Antalya and Frankfurt. SunExpress was founded as a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and the Lufthansa Group/Condor Flugdienst. In 1995, the Lufthansa Group transferred its SunExpress shares to Condor. All tourist flights operate under a single unit. In February 2007, all Condor shares were retaken by the Lufthansa Group as Condor was acquired by Thomas Cook AG (now Thomas Cook Group).
SunExpress is currently a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and the Lufthansa Group, each owning 50 percent of the airline. With 886 employees the company is the largest employer in Antalya. SunExpress counts 393 employees in Izmir, 299 in Istanbul, 178 in Ankara, 42 in Anatolian cities and 334 in Frankfurt, Germany. The total SunExpress workforce number is 2.132 with other domestic bases.