September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Turkish Airlines is forecasting robust growth as it positions itself as a natural bridge between Asia, Europe and beyond.
Speaking to ABTN in its home hub of Istanbul on the day of its much-vaunted entry to the Star Alliance club, Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil said: ”By the end of this year we will have [a total of] 61 aircraft and will grow at 15% per year.”
Such bullish optimism is reinforced by his assertion that the Turkish flag carrier will also acquire two Airbus A340s, five Boeing 737-800s and 14 A320/A321s.
The carrier”s accession to Star Alliance ” after a 16-month shadow period ” also comes at the same time as a period of frenetic political activity in Turkey.
The country is undergoing what appears to be a seismic split between secular and non-secular political forces, while Turkey”s continuing efforts to join the European Union are proving extremely frustrating.
But Kotil batted away suggestions that his airline”s entry into the 20-strong Star Alliance was any herald of attitudes softening towards Turkey”s EU acceptance.
”We join the Alliance, not the European Union,” he said ” ”It”s good for Turkish companies and it is prestigious.”
Ironically, the same hotel in which the world”s media were staying to cover Turkish Airlines” Star Alliance entry was hosting a conference attended by the Turkish president to address his country”s EU membership, with dozens of police and security services providing a febrile backdrop to the talks.
Away from politics, Kotil acknowledged that Dubai was a competitor hub but argued that Istanbul had the commercial advantage of being able to use narrow-bodied aircraft ” more economically ” than wider-bodied equivalents from Dubai to serve Europe, for example.
”Turkish Airlines is increasing its transit passengers and a long-haul [connecting flight] coupled with a short connection is a good thing,” he said. ”There are 55 countries within 3.5hrs of here,” he said. ”Dubai is a good alternative but it feeds Europe with long-haul aircraft.”