TURKISH AIRLINES, a leading European carrier and one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, has set an ambitious plan to launch 2,000 flights per day from its hub in Istanbul by 2020.
This, to many, may seem like a Mission Impossible-IV task but not for the national carrier from the land of the inimitable Turks with its dynamic chief executive officer, Temel Kotil at the helm.
Turkish Airlines began its journey in 1933 with just five airplanes, and is now a four-star airline boasting of 215 aircraft in its fleet (passenger and cargo) flying to 221 cities around the world with a Star Alliance member status.
A self-styled dreamer, Kotil believes in walking the un-trodden path and achieving the impossible.
“We now have a daily capacity of 1,000 flights. We plan to double it to 2,000 in the next seven years as our global network continues to grow,” Kotil told TTN.
Turkish Airlines, he said, loves to boost its share in the global aviation market every year by venturing into newer territories and flying a record number of passengers from across the globe.
Last year the airline had carried 39 million passengers, which, it expects will reach 46 million by the end of this year. “We are targeting 90 million passengers by the end of 2020,” revealed Kotil.
As a first step towards this goal, the Turkish carrier is adding 117 new Airbus aircraft into its fleet by 2015.
“With 211 aircraft operating in its network, Turkish Airlines has become one of the biggest airline companies in aviation industry and the new orders will take its fleet strength to 375, including cargo airplanes,” he stated.
The new ones to join the fleet include 25 A321, four A320 Neo and 53 A321 neo. Besides, Turkish Airlines has the option to purchase a further 35 additional A321 neos which will be delivered by 2015, he added.
Kotil said the carrier was all set to expand its scope of operation. “We have a growing network across the Middle East, which now provides access to over 200 destinations worldwide,” the airline chief added.
He said the biggest advantage for the flag carrier was Turkey’s advantageous geography as Istanbul is just less than five hours away from the Gulf countries and even several major cities in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Traffic revenues from the Middle East grew 13 per cent complemented by an increase in available seat numbers by 24.8 per cent and load factor gaining 3.5 points. A major contributor to growth in traffic from Dubai and the wider Middle East is the growing appeal of Turkey as a holiday destination for its cultural blend of Eastern and Western influence.
“With such a short duration flight and Turkey offering access to winter sports for almost half the year, we are sure the passenger numbers from the Gulf countries will soar with launch of our new Winter in Turkey’ campaign,” he noted.
“We’re part Asia and part Europe and for Mideast leisure travellers, we are both at the same time,” remarked Kotil.
Turkey’s reputation as all-round holiday destination, said Kotil, is being complemented by the award-winning service of the national carrier and its competitively priced flights, whether for a holiday trip or stop over at Istanbul for onward journey.
According to him, Turkish Airlines now aims to achieve a net income of $9.7 billion for 2013 boosted by Turkey’s growing position as a global hub for winter tourism.
The carrier is promoting the country’s diverse cultural wonders, exhilarating winter activities and enriching holiday experience as part of its ‘Winter in Turkey’ campaign.
Turkey in Winter’ highlights the country’s seasonal offering as a playground for exhilarating sports with more than 20 skiing hotspots besides enriching cultural experiences in Istanbul and historical cities, delectable culinary delights and stunning natural sceneries.
“We will be offering special rates to woo tourists to spend their dream vacation here in Turkey, which is emerging as one of the world’s fastest growing tourist hubs,” said an excited Kotil.
A leading player in the Europe aviation sector, the Turkish Airlines netted a record $8 billion turnover last year and now aims to achieve $18 billion turnover by 2020.
Kotil has set sights on the GCC market and wants to get as many tourists as possible from there.
“The number of tourists from the GCC region have increased dramatically with a record growth of 370 per cent from the UAE and almost 600 per cent from Qatar in August 2012 compared to the year before.”
He said more than 31 million foreign tourists had visited Turkey last year. “The tourist inflow from the Middle East, especially from the GCC region has been quite encouraging, “ said the airline chief.
On the future outlook, Kotil said “We had a spectacular 2012 and are looking forward to a great year ahead. Our growth strategy has been to keep operating costs low with newer, more fuel-efficient planes and entering newer and challenging territories where no one dares to enter.”
Turkish Airlines, he stated, was fast gaining the reputation of a daring airline among its rivals. “Take the case of Somalian capital Mogadishu. We were the first to enter the war-ravaged country and now we have two flights a week to Somalia routed through Khartoum.”
“Our formula is simple. We love flying and want the world to fly with us and enjoy our hospitality and of course help us make more profit ,” said a beaming Kotil.
“Our aim is to enter every nook and corner and we are now indeed growing everywhere,” said the proud airline chief.
The construction of Turkey’s new airport in Istanbul, recently, announced to become the largest in the world, is paving the way for further expansion of Turkish Airlines operations worldwide and across the Middle East where the airline currently flies to 31 destinations.
By Sushil Nair
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.