Turkish Airlines becomes number one


Turkish Airlines, almost by stealth but certainly with a lot less fanfare compared to some of the Gulf’s leading carriers, has this month reached a new milestone, when first it took delivery on its 200th aircraft before adding the 90th country to its fast growing destination network of now 170 international and 35 domestic airports.

Turkish, a leading member of global industry leader Star Alliance is of particular interest to travelers on the African continent where the airline has set itself the goal of connecting 40 countries by 2014 through their Istanbul hub with the rest of the world. Here in East Africa, the airline already connects Entebbe, Kigali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and has announced plans to add Kilimanjaro and Mombasa from December onwards with a triangular service. This would make Turkish the number one foreign airline, connecting East Africa to the world, after Qatar Airways halted their own plans to add Mombasa to their destination network and has gone remarkably quiet over earlier announcements that Zanzibar would be added too.

Information at hand speaks of plans by Turkish to eventually reach a fleet of 400 aircraft, twice the number compared to those presently in service, and a new airport development outside Istanbul, tailored to the needs of the national airline’s growth ambitions, which is due to be opened by approximately 2016, will create the space and facilities needed to cater for further growth.

Turkish Airlines CEO Dr. Temel Kotil in a recent interview also spoke of his desire to raise service levels to a point where Skytrax, which currently rates THY as a 4 star airline, will have to give them the coveted 5th star, something presently only Qatar Airways has accomplished, serving notice of intent to not just become one of the largest airlines but also one of the best.

Notably have overt and covert talks been taking place between Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance partner Lufthansa for a closer cooperation, already manifested in joint venture airline SunExpress, which was formed in 1989 and commenced operations in 1990. The latest talks however are pushing way beyond that to a possible mutual shareholding or even more along the lines of the KLM/Air France partnership model, which could fundamentally reshape the airline scene in Europe and even the wider aviation world. Watch this space for regular and breaking aviation news.