UK-based Turkish tour operators seek Ankara’s support

By Aysu Bicer and Havva Kara Aydin

ANKARA (AA) – U.K.-based Turkish tour operators have raised concerns over British global travel group Thomas Cook’s collapse and are seeking urgent help from the Turkish government to avoid losing their market share.

The demise of the U.K.’s oldest travel agency has sent shockwaves across the industry worldwide, especially in countries like Turkey, which has benefitted from its travel packages and in turn tourism revenues.

According to a report by Thomas Cook, Turkey has been one of the top destinations for Britons this summer, with holidaymakers turning their backs on destinations in the European Union due to uncertainties over Brexit.

The firm carried over 1 million tourists to Turkey in 2018, of which 620,000 were from Germany and 435,000 from the U.K., according to a report by the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers' Association.

With the numbers revealing the scale of the impact, the company's demise may have a negative impact on Turkey's tourism revenues.

"If the Turkish government does not take urgent steps, U.K.-based Turkish travel agents may lose their market share following the tour operator’s collapse," Engin Sertoglu, director of U.K.-based Caira Holidays, told Anadolu Agency.

"Turkish air companies should play a part in getting U.K.-based Turkish travel agents out of this crisis by increasing flight capacity. If there are no flights, there won’t be any tourists," Sertoglu said, noting the system in the U.K. will not allow any travel company to fill the gap after the collapse.

He said Turkish Airlines should take the initiative by offering additional capacity charter planes, pointing out that Thomas Cook was supposed to bring nearly 40,000 tourists to Turkey in October.

"By giving urgent incentives, the [Turkish] government should support Turkish travel firms operating in the U.K. so they can continue to contribute to Turkey's tourism," he added.

Ibrahim Batkitar, director of U.K.-based Comfort Travel, said the British travel giant's collapse may create an opportunity for small-scale travel agencies, noting that Thomas Cook was the second travel firm to go bankrupt in three years.

"People don’t trust online bookings anymore," he said, adding they will opt to do business with travel companies offering accessible staff and reliable customer services, which is more trustworthy than the internet.

– Turkey seeks €350M from Thomas Cook over firm's bust

Firuz Baglikaya, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), said other tour operators could fill the gap in the sector within 3-4 years by offering the same services to consumers.

Thomas Cook's bankruptcy in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Poland following the U.K. creates an unusual situation for the sector, according to a statement by Turkey’s Tourism Advisory Council, which consists of leading institutions representing the tourism sector.

It said nearly 2 million tourists come to Turkey from these countries per year.

The statement added that upon its collapse, Thomas Cook owed Turkey’s tourism sector more than €350 million (around $381 million).

However, it is impossible for this amount to be repaid in the short- and medium-term, and that will put small businesses in a difficult situation, it added.

– What happened?

The collapse last week of the iconic 178-year-old British tour operator left more than 20,000 employees jobless and at least 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.

An increase in online bookings, uncertainty over Brexit, financial crises in 2007 and even the climate crisis are seen as the main reasons behind its liquidation.

Thomas Cook’s demise also occurred because it failed to secure a government bailout.

Hours after its collapse, Turkish authorities moved to reassure tourists in Turkey who booked and paid for their holidays through the firm.

On Sept. 23, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched the largest peacetime repatriation to bring more than 150,000 Britons back to the U.K.

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry said it would shortly provide a credit support package with the country's Treasury and Finance Ministry for tourism firms affected by Thomas Cook’s collapse.


Turkey: Defense, aviation revenues reach $8.76B in 2018

By Aysenur Saglam</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's defense and aviation revenues jumped by 31% to reach $8.76 billion year-on-year in 2018, an official announced on Friday.</p> <p>Speaking at an award ceremony in the capital Ankara, Ismail Demir, the head of Defense Industries Presidency, said Turkey’s defense exports also soared by 20% to $2.2 billion during the same period.</p> <p>&quot;Last year, we spent $1.45 billion for researches and development in the defense field,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Employment in the defense industry sector surpassed 67,000 last year, Demir added.</p> <p>Underlining the importance of developing and manufacturing original products, he said Turkey will continue its efforts to expand the sector. </p> <p>*Writing by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul


Turkish Airlines opens facilities in Istanbul Airport

By Gokhan Ergocun and Ugur Arslanhan</p> <p>ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey's national flag carrier opened five operational facilities in Istanbul's new airport, the company announced on Tuesday.</p> <p>Maintenance, repair, cargo, cabin interior products, and unit load facilities were launched on 50,000-square-meter (some 538,000 square feet), Turkish Airlines said in a written statement.</p> <p>Some other facilities will be opened on 150,000-square-meter (some 1,614,000 square feet) before March, it added.</p> <p>Ilker Ayci, chairman of the board of directors and the executive committee, said that Istanbul Airport will be a milestone for the Turkish aviation sector.</p> <p>&quot;We built our facilities with a high capacity in the Istanbul Airport by planning next 25 years,&quot; Ayci stated.</p> <p>Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said that the number of passengers reached 210 million in Turkish aviation sector, with 205,000 employment.</p> <p>&quot;The most important player of this story is Turkish Airlines. It will continue to be successful,” he added.</p> <p>The Istanbul Airport, of which first phase was opened on Oct. 29, has an annual capacity of 90 million passengers.</p> <p>The annual capacity will rise to around 150-200 million passengers after the competition of its second phase by 2028.</p> <p>With the second phase of the airport, Turkish Airline will have a huge campus — 700,000-square-meter.</p> <p>Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has 333 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes, and flies to 306 destinations in 124 countries.


Istanbul Airport to become megahub of aviation sector

By Gokhan Ergocun

ISTANBUL (AA) – The new Istanbul Airport will be a megahub in the world and locomotive for the Turkish aviation sector, said Ilker Ayci, chairman of the board of directors of Turkish Airlines.

“Turkey will become one of the important centers of the commercial aviation sector in the world, ” he told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

The first phase of the airport opened on Oct. 29 and commercial flights started early November.

The airport has the potential to welcome 90 million passengers annually and following the second phase of construction, expected to be completed in 2023, this number will rise to around 200 million.

The airport can serve for 60 airways in the first phase, and 150 airways in the second phase, Ayci said.

“Turkey which is 17th in the world with regards to the number of passengers will be 9th by 2032, ” he added.

He said the fleet of planes the country owns is expected to reach 700 with the contribution of the new airport.

The flag carrier carried over 36,000 passengers through its three domestic and two international flights via Istanbul Airport during the last month, he noted.

Turkish Airlines will soon start to operate all flights via Istanbul Airport, he said.

“The airport will not contribute to only passenger transportation, but also make Istanbul the biggest cargo city in the world. ”

The airport has 2.5 million tons of cargo capacity annually and it will reach 5.5 million tons when all phases are completed, he added.

Ayci said the facility will add 73 billion liras (nearly $14 billion) — 4.9 percent of the GDP — to the Turkish economy.

The airport employs 36,000 people currently, 120,000 people will work in the coming months, and 225,000 people will work when all phases are completed. It will provide employment to 1.5 million people indirectly.

The airport would take flight to 350 destinations worldwide including Africa.

Turkish Airlines will provide added services to its passengers such as Business Class and Exclusive Lounge.

The flag carrier will make its subsidiary Turkish Cargo one of the five best cargo companies in the world, he said.

Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, flies to over 300 destinations in more than 120 countries with its nearly 330 aircraft.

Last year, the airline carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate.


Turkish Airlines' net profit triples in 9-month

By Gokhan Ergocun

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkish Airlines on Wednesday announced a net profit of $755 million for the first nine months of 2018, up nearly two times from $263 million during the same period last year.

In a statement, the airline said its total revenue increased by 20 percent to $9.9 billion during the first three quarters of the current year, versus the same period last year.

The airline also posted a record operating profit with $1.15 billion in the nine-month period, up from $956 million in the same period in 2017.

The number of destinations served by the flag carrier reached 304 destinations, including 49 domestic and 255 international, in 122 countries as of September, the company said.

The carrier operates a total of 329 aircraft — 217 narrowbodies, 92 widebodies, and 20 cargo aircraft — and it aims to raise this number to 475 aircraft by 2023.

The airline’s capacity also increased by 6 percent in the January-October period, with the airline serving 58 million passengers with an occupancy capacity of 82 percent.

Capacity is essentially calculated by multiplying the available seats by kilometers.

The carrier's passenger demand also rose by 10.3 percent in the same period, while the global aviation sector's demand increased 7 percent, respectively.

The airline's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and rent (EBITDAR) increased 16 percent to stand at $2.8 billion.

Subsidiary Turkish Cargo carried over 1 million tons in the nine-month period, marking a 25 percent rise year-on-year.

Turkish Cargo's revenue also increased by 29 percent to reach $1.2 billion in the January-September period, versus the same period last year.

“Today, with our significant investments, impressive growth figures and numerous successes we achieved, we continue to strengthen our prestigious position in the global aviation industry,” the airline’s chairman Ilker Ayci said in the statement.


Turkey-Egypt flight ties best ever: Turkish Airline CEO

By Aydogan Kalabalik

CAIRO (AA) – The aviation sector between Turkey and Egypt is enjoying its best period yet, according to the CEO of flag carrier Turkish Airlines.

“Istanbul is the best hub for Egyptian flights, last year was very good for Turkish Airlines, ” Bilal Eksi told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of an Arab Air Carriers' Organization (AACO) meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

He stated that both Turkish Airlines and EgyptAir are working to boost tourism between the two countries.

The Turkish carrier flies to four cities in Egypt — Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Hurghada — a total of 44 times weekly, and it plans to add more flights, said Eksi.

He also said the number of passengers between Turkey and Egypt rose 20 percent this year compared to 2017.

The two carriers have a codeshare program to sell tickets for joint flights, he added.

In 2017 Turkish Airlines carried 583,000 passengers between Turkey and Egypt.

With its fleet of 330 aircraft, Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, flies to more than 300 destinations in over 120 countries.


Turkish Airlines employs 500 new pilots in 2018

By Gokhan Ergocun

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines has employed 500 new pilots and the number of new pilots is expected to reach 1,100 by the end of 2018, the airline’s chief executive officer said.

Speaking at a ceremony, Bilal Eksi said 500 pilots that include 41 captains and 286 first officers will be trained by the company, according to a press release on Thursday.

“The fact that the majority of pilots are Turkish shows the importance given by Turkish Airlines to the development of Turkey's aviation, ” Eksi noted.

The airline was named Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016, and chosen the Best Airline in Southern Europe for the ninth consecutive time in 2017.

Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, flies to more than 300 destinations in over 120 countries with its 330 aircraft.

According to the statement, the flag carrier will have over 500 aircraft by 2023. Last year, the airline carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate.


EU airports council calls for focus on sustainability

By Jeyhun Aliyev

ANKARA (AA) – The Airports Council International (ACI) Europe on Thursday called on EU to give importance to sustainability and consumer interest.

The EU Transport Ministers, EU institutions and aviation stakeholders met in Vienna for the high-level European Aviation Summit on Oct. 3-4, organized by the Austrian Presidency.

“In order to effectively address this growth challenge, the EU aviation strategy needs to place a greater emphasis on sustainability across the board, ” the statement read.

During the two-day summit, Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe said that both businesses and policy makers should come to terms with changing societal values.

“Aviation growth must not only be reconciled with the EU’s environmental objectives, it must also serve wider social purposes and prove its relevance to citizens beyond its economic benefits, ” he stressed.

Jankovec noted that the EU aviation strategy — launched in Dec. 2015 — “should evolve ” and determine a clear vision, ambition and roadmap for sustainable air connectivity.

ACI Europe expressed its readiness on supporting the European Commission in this matter, as well as advised close cooperation with industry for favorable delivery.

The airport authority also urged the EU to continue opening up access to external markets through air traffic rights liberalization agreements.

The statement revealed that aviation sector provides employment to 12.2 million people and contributes to 4.1 percent of all GDP in European countries, while the air passenger traffic at EU airports climbed by around 30 percent over the past 5 years.

ACI Europe — founded in 1991 — represents over 500 airports in 45 European countries, with its members facilitating over 90 percent of commercial air traffic in Europe, according to its website.


Defense and aviation sector exports on rise: Turkey

By Musab Turan

ISTANBUL (AA) – Exports by Turkey's defense and aviation sector rose 77 percent to $197 million in July, the Defense and Aerospace Industry Exporters' Association (SSI) announced on Wednesday.

Among all sectors, the defense and aviation sector showed the best performance in terms of growing exports, according to a press release by the group.

The sector's exports from January to July also rose 21.8 percent to $1.1 billion, it said.

Latif Aral Alis, the group's head, said: “In the value-added defense and aviation industry, which has strategic importance, we are reaping the fruits of our research and development (R&D) and investments in innovation. “

Turkey cannot reach its targets without value-added production and investments in high technology, R&D, and innovation, he added.

“We continue our investments without slowing down and we know we will accomplish great things, ” he stressed.

Bilim Teknoloji

Turkey's 1st aeronautical expo kicks off

By Leyla Ataman Koyuncuoglu

ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) – Turkey’s first aeronautical expo kicked off on Wednesday with the participation of national and international dignitaries.

Speaking at Eurasia Show in southwestern Antalya province, Yuksel Coskunyurek, the Turkish deputy minister for transportation, maritime and telecommunications, said: “Since 2003, we invested over $4.5 billion in the aviation sector with the private sector's support.

“Currently, $13.5 billion worth of investments are being processed. ”

The number of airports in Turkey has grown to 55 from only 26 in 2003. From 35 million passengers in 2003, the figure has increased to over 200 million, he added.

Highlighting the need to produce and develop technology locally, he said: “Eurasia Airshow will contribute to the promotion of Turkey's aerospace sector. ”

Ismail Demir, undersecretary for the defense industry of Turkey, said the perception that the country cannot be a key player in the aviation sector was changing.

Speaking about Turkish projects of F16 optimization, Atak helicopter, Gokturk-1 and Gokturk-2 satellites and warplanes, he said: “Turkey aims for excellence in the aviation sector and this expo is a glowing example. ”

Oleg Bocharov, the Russian deputy minister of industry and trade, said: “In the coming five days we will discuss joint efforts. ”

The five-day event — held under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency and with Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines as its main sponsor — will bring together major players of the global aerospace industry.

A total of 73 planes will be displayed and around 320 companies, including 35 foreign firms, will showcase their products at the event.

Trade agreements worth $10 billion are expected to be signed.

Anadolu Agency is the global communications partner for the event.

* Gokhan Ergocun contributed to the story from Ankara