TURKISH Airlines (THY) president and CEO Dr Temil Kotil says that the airline has set itself a 10-year target to become as big as Germany’s Lufthansa, which is currently one of the largest carriers in the world.
Dr Kotil’s comments came during a roundtable discussion with journalists in Istanbul, where he also outlined the airline’s expansion plans and confirmed that talks were under way for the purchase of Polish airline LOT and Serbia’s JAT.
Turkish Airlines made a net profit of TRY559 million ($369 million) in 2009, down 51 per cent over the previous year’s profit of THY1.134 billion. However, Dr Kotil said that the airline was able to stay in profit despite the global downturn because it was able to offer a five-star service but at cheaper rates compared to low-cost Western or five-star Eastern competitors.
He added that Turkish Airlines’ strategic location in Istanbul – which lies halfway between the East and the West – offered a distinct advantage in terms of operating costs.
“That is why our expansion in Europe has been massive,” he said, adding that the airline’s market share within the Association of European Airlines (AEA) has risen from 4 per cent to 8.5 per cent, not far behind the leading AEA airline which had a market share of between 12 and 14 per cent.
Dr Kotil also pointed out that Turkish Airlines serves Europe very extensively and that it currently offers as many as 220 flights per week into nine German cities alone.
He said that several competing five-star carriers were not able to match this service because of the longer distances they have to travel, which translated into higher operating costs.
Last year, Turkish Airlines carried 25 million passengers to 158 destinations the airline expects these numbers to rise to 30 million passengers and 168 destinations by the end of the year.
Dr Kotil also projected that by the end of the year Turkish Airlines expected to become the world’s ninth largest in terms of coverage with 5,000 flights per week.
THY currently has 89 aircraft on order including Boeing 737s and 777s and Airbus 330 and 320s.
“With this level of growth we could become one of the largest airlines in Europe. In 10 years we want to be as big as Lufthansa,” he concluded.
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