Turkish Airlines, one of the leading carriers in Europe constantly expanding its reach has disclosed that it will soon commence flight operations to Freetown, and Luanda, the capital cities Sierra Lone and Angola.
The airline which flies to more destinations than any carrier said it is poised to deepen it operation in Africa’s aviation industry with the commencement of flights to the two cities by next year 2018.
Speaking at a forum organised by the Airline and Turkish tourism agencies on Thursday in Lagos, General Manager, Turkish Airlines, Nigeria, Tarkan Ince, said the carrier is aiming to host 200 million passengers at its third airport terminal in Istanbul which will be opened for commercial operation by October, 2018.
He added: “In Istanbul, there is going to be a third airport, and this airport is important. As you know aviation is all about flying to destinations and connectivity. The connectivity index is the index that determines your strength or weakness. And I think other than Asia, Turkish airlines has the most high connectivity index in the world. With this third airport planned to open in October, 2018. The airport is going to be in 3 phases. The first phase, will be hosting 90 million passengers, when it is completed it is going to host 150 million passengers up to 200 million passengers a year. This will give a strong stand for Turkish airlines based on connectivity and Istanbul will be moving out from being a hub into a power house. This airport will be having 450 aircraft parking spaces and lots of benefits to the passengers will be reflected.”
Ince disclosed that one of the 2023 visions of the airlines is to generate $30 billion revenue yearly. According to him, the Nigerian aviation market remains one of the airlines major sources of revenue in Africa, noting that 2016 was a rough year for Turkish airline in the industry, with the airline making a loss of $100 million.
“We would like to reach more than 500 aircraft and we will be targeting 120 million people and flying to 350 plus destinations, with that I think we will be flying everywhere in the world. And 30 billion dollars of income. Of course this is actually a modest approach because IATA made a forecast, they said in 2016 3.8 billion people travelled and by 2035, 7.2 billion people will be travelling. So there is a lot of opportunity that will be coming and the African continent will be having an increase of 5.1% and the continent will be reaching about 200 million passengers only from the Sub Sahara.”
He added that the airline has regained its feet from the forex crisis that rocked the industry in Nigeria and is close to $ 1billion profit margin again. He stated that Turkish airlines is planning to deploy a 777 aircraft to Nigerian route.
“It was a very tough year for Turkish Airlines, the year before (2015) we have broken a record of profit by gaining like $1 billion plus and in 2016, we faced a loss of about $100 million but today, in 2017, in the third quarter, September, we are close to $1 billion again. Nigeria has done very well, that is why we are planning to enhance the aircraft, we are already operating with a wide body aircraft but we are planning to go to 777. It is a little bit problem because there is a lot of demands now but we will try to get this product for Nigeria. So thank you very much for all the support and all the efforts that you have been putting to support Turkish Airlines.”
“As you can see we are flying to 120 countries, we are the airline in the world that flies to 120 countries. And also we are now covering 302 destinations, 52 destinations are domestic and we are the only airline in the world that flies to more international destination. Our aircraft size is 336 but it is going to go up to 540. Turkish airline is offering pretty much vast services and the network is pretty much big. We fly to 51 points in Africa including the North Africa, I also have to add that we fly to more destinations than Ethiopian airlines. We are going to add Freetown to our route network and Angola, so we are still growing and next year we will be back to 2 digits plus again. “
“Turkish airlines in 2017 targeted to carry 70 million people, last year we did 62.7 and every year these numbers grow. The average age of our fleet is 6.8, most of the European carriers has 14, 15 up to 20, so we have a pretty young fleet and because the aircraft are coming in and they are going to be brown new, this number is going to down.”
Ince stated that one of the objectives of the forum was to interact with Nigerian travel agents, get feedback from them and find ways of assisting then to better market the Turkey as a preferred destination.
“2017 like I said is going tremendously well but there still some points that could be improved. And I see that when we talk to the agencies, there are times when you face downfalls, and on those downfalls your transactions may not be as high as the high seasons. So in those times what we will like to do as an organisation is to be in contact and try to see if there is any opportunity or possibility , that you will like to take advantage of that we can support you.
“We like to introduce Turkey more to the Nigerian market. You know that Nigerian market possess a great potential, because of them taking care of other African countries as well, I can easily say, why they say that Nigeria has the biggest economy, because I can see the differences. “