Following Turkish Airlines’ record results for 2015, which saw it break the billion dollar net profit margin, CMO Ahmet Olmustur tells Routes News its plans for the future and just how important Istanbul’s new airport will be.
Q) What is the current state of play for Turkish Airlines?
A) "Our effective route planning and execution has led to Turkish Airlines becoming a leading European carrier and this can be seen in the results we recorded for 2015 when we set a new personal best. The airline recorded a total net profit of $1.07 billion for the year and this was the first time that we have managed to break the billion-dollar mark. This figure was recorded as a result of our having generated sales revenue of $10.522 billion throughout the year. The profit was also largely driven by a 32% increase in profit from main operations, which meant we recorded a total of $859 million. Our route planning and execution were not the only reasons for success; we also benefited from the growth of Turkey’s tourism industry with its wide global reach. Istanbul’s global location is also a natural advantage for us as it acts as a bridge between Europe and Asia, as well as the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
Through our Istanbul hub, Turkish Airlines offers passengers the chance to travel to almost any country in the world. Our network of 284 destinations in 113 countries is still growing. We consistently invest in providing the best travel experience for passengers and our results show that this strategy is paying off – in 2015 our passenger numbers grew by 13.6% to 61.2 million carried on 453,000 flights, giving a load factor of 78%."
Q) Where would Turkish Airlines like to fly or increase frequencies as it continues to develop its network?
A) "Our business strategy is centred on the east-west passenger flow, and the expansion of its fleet to take advantage of expected growth opportunities in all of its major markets. Developing countries present great opportunities for growth. We are keen to increase capacity in Africa and Europe, as well as targeting increased frequencies to China and India in case existing traffic rights issues are solved. Long-term, South America, Central America and Asia-Pacific are focal regions for Turkish Airlines. Generally speaking, the strategy is to add international-tointernational traffic in greater passenger numbers than other airlines carry on their entire networks. Being the Turkish mega-carrier, we not only have a global route network, we also have multi-daily frequencies in key markets, allowing us to build mass and reduce operating costs by maximising aircraft and crew utilisation."
Q) Tell us about the new airport in Istanbul and how it will help you grow?
A) "We have reaped the benefits of the booming demand for commercial air services in Turkey, with high rates of growth in the past decade. Although its market has tripled over 10 years, the country is still developing compared with more mature markets and has a significant growth potential. However, as a consequence of its rapid growth, we have been constrained by capacity limitations at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport hub. In anticipation of the continued demand for traffic to Istanbul and for international connecting passengers, the government of Turkey has begun work on an ambitious project to build the world’s biggest airport targeting 150 million passengers by 2021. Located 44km north of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the facility is one of the biggest construction projects in the world right now with a terminal that will handle up to 90 million passengers per year in the initial phase. Ultimately, the $35 billion investment will see the construction of six runways and 500 aircraft parking spots. The first phase of the airport is expected to finish in 2018, allowing the country and its flag carrier air service to take advantage of the unique geographical location to draw passengers from Asia onward to Europe and North America. When all phases are completed, it will rank as the world’s largest airport and drive the key role played by Turkey in the global aviation industry."