Ideally, the country is the epicentre of a huge amount of air traffic, making it a convenient place for transit passengers. “You can reach up to 35 countries in a three-hour radius from Istanbul,” says Hamdi Topçu, chairman of the board and the executive committee.
Currently, Turkish Airlines
operates scheduled services to 127 international and 35 domestic cities, serving more than 170 airports in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The airline’s main base is at Atatürk International Airport, on Istanbul’s European side, and it has more than 15,000 employees. Turkey’s flagship air carrier has been a member of the Star Alliance network since April 2008.
The airline sector in Turkey is expected to significantly grow in the coming years. “There are two main reasons why the airline sector in Turkey is developing. Firstly, in the past, annual per capita GDP was £1,900 but now it is up to £6,300,” Mr Topçu explains. “Turkey also has good relations with its neighbours and the rest of the world. Turkey is the number one European country with the most domestic destinations according to recent statistics. There are 46 airports currently in operation and six more are being developed. The government reduced taxes on the civil aviation sector and the airports were privatised. These are some of the key factors which have led to our rapid growth.”
Turkish Airlines statistics are steadily rising with an increase of 17.3 per cent in 2010 of passengers carried. The total reached 24.5 million from the 20.9 million recorded in 2009. International business class and international-to-international transfer passengers increased by 29.6 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively for the same period.
“Turkish Airlines continues to grow as a global airline with the Boeing 777 helping us to expand into new markets in Asia and the Americas,” says Mr Topçu. “The addition of the new Boeing 777-300ERs exemplifies our commitment to delivering high-quality service and comfort to our passengers, while enabling us to continue our profitable growth.”
Turkish Airlines is also following an aggressive marketing strategy, associating its name overseas with some of the world’s most recognised brands. For example, in January 2010 Turkish Airlines became a sponsor of Manchester Utd. The airline will transport the club’s players to the tournaments and training camps during its three-and-a-half-year sponsorship contract. “This sponsorship deal was very important and this cooperation will provide big support for Turkish Airlines,” Mr Topçu says.
This deal with Man Utd has helped Turkish Airlines move closer to completing its objective to become the preferred leading European air carrier with its growth and partnerships.