With an eye for taking what is already a leading airline to new heights, CEO, Turkish Airlines, Temel Kotil speaks exclusively to Panayiotis Markides about how the carrier seeks to grow further, while successfully sustaining its development and ensuring the best experience for its passengers
TTG: What are your goals for the end of 2015 and 2016?
Our goals are to continue to ‘widen your world’ by adding new Turkish Airlines destinations and routes, especially in the US and Africa. From next year we will be flying to Atlanta, direct from Istanbul; this is our 13th destination in the US. Other than this, we hope to expand our fleet to 300 aircraft by the end of the year and we want to establish a permanent fleet at Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul too. As Turkish Airlines continues to grow we hope to attract and train more top quality women pilots as we strongly believe in equal opportunities and diversity in the workplace. Towards the end of 2016, we will be preparing for the opening of New Airport Istanbul, the largest in the world, and expected to carry 150 million passengers.
TTG: When investing in new additions to your fleet, what factors must you consider which influence what aircraft you invest in?
When investing in new additions to our fleet we have to understand the various travel dynamics at play. For example, we need to study the prospective demand for different routes and then buy wide-body or narrow-body planes accordingly. We need to look at cargo vs passenger traffic, we need to also study the airports we will be flying to and from since all airports can’t accommodate the newer planes. Narrow-body planes that typically seat 90-175 passengers are important for shorter, regional routes within hub-and-spoke air network.
TTG: What factors are at play when investing in new connections?
Opening a new route is a very detailed and sophisticated process requiring thorough analysis. After taking the decision to open a new route, at least six months are required for the commencement of flights.
Airlines look at how over-serviced or under-serviced a market is when investing in new connections and what the projected growth and returns are in these markets.
In brief, as a global network carrier flying to more countries and international destinations than any other airline, we decide on the potential routes that have the capacity to feed our network through the increase of transit passengers; in this way we are able to use effectively the hub-and-spoke system.
TTG: Tell us about the innovations that you use to generate ancillary revenue, all the while improving the passenger experience?
At Turkish Airlines, we love our passengers and give the greatest priority to meet their needs and exceed their expectations. When it comes to customer satisfaction, we make no compromise. We continuously innovate and introduce new features to ensure that our passengers receive maximum value. However, in doing so, generating ancillary revenues is not our aim. We offer excellent catering service on-board that is comparable to the finest restaurants, matched by the high service standards of our crew. Our inflight entertainment (IFE) is also truly world-class.
In short, we are a global network carrier that continuously strives to improve the passenger experience by offering excellent service without focusing on generating ancillary revenues at the expense of our passengers.
In fact, we are even opening an economy lounge in Istanbul in 2017, which can be accessed by all our international transit passengers.
TTG: What role does the airline have in promoting your destination’s tourism product?
As Turkey’s national flag carrier we work closely with the Turkish government to help them achieve their tourism goals. For example, we help promote Istanbul through our Touristanbul scheme. Anyone who flies through İstanbul and has a waiting time of at least six hours is welcome to Touristanbul. After you arrive at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, you will be picked up and then taken to historical places and beautiful restaurants. You will see İstanbul’s historical and natural beauties, after which, you will be taken back to Atatürk Airport. We are also contributing to the promotion of our country, Turkey, via the 110 countries that we fly to.