Turkey Is Rising In Civil Aviation

Sezgin Çevik Abdullah Özbudak April 2014


Türkiye Sivil Havacılıkta Yükseliyor
Türkiye Sivil Havacılıkta Yükseliyor

The foundations of aviation in Turkey were laid in 1912. Soon afterwards Turkish civil aviation gained tremendous dynamism through figures like Vecihi Hürkuş and Nuri Demirağ. Civil aviation has been on a rising trajectory in the last 30 years as well. In a letter that appeared in the April 1985 issue of Skylife magazine, the then-Prime Minister Turgut Özal seems to be describing civil aviation today. He put forward a vision, a vision that has now been realized. The success of Turkish civil aviation today - a collaboration between state and private enterprise. And now, as of January 2014 three prominent names in the industry have also come into key positions in European civil aviation. Skylife magazine asked them about their goals and the secrets of their success.

Turkish Airlines’ President & CEO Temel Kotil, who assumed the chairmanship of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) at the new year, says his success stems from the success of Turkish Airlines.

One of the big problems in Europe is that governments view airlines as a source of revenue. The German, French, Spanish and British governments in particular impose very high taxes on airlines. Turkey is a good example in that respect because it has lowered taxes and put the emphasis on infrastructure, thereby contributing to the growth of Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines, which in 2003, even in 1993, had 10 million passengers and was among the top 40, rose to 13th in the world ranking in the short space of 10 years. During that period, it captured the world’s attention as the airline that was always making a profit. As a theoretical and mathematical model, it was the top airline in Europe. Today we dominate the Europe-Africa and Middle East market. We aim to increase our capacity to 450 planes by 2023. This means that a single airline will be transporting 120 million passengers a year, more than any other airline in the world. We are approaching an annual turnover of 24 million dollars, which makes us a giant. We have completed our plan and program and are simply putting them into practice now. Turkey can do this thanks to its very unusual dynamics.

One of the leading organizations in the sector, the Association of European Airlines (AEA) brings together 31 European airlines. Its purpose is to represent the sector to the European Union and relevant stakeholders.

Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Haydar Yalçın, who was elected President of the EUROCONTROL Provisional Council, says that Turkish civil aviation gained new dynamism through the legislative amendments passed in 2005.

Turkey is surpassing itself in the field of civil aviation. Our target is to be one of the 36 members of the International Civil Aviation Organization Council (ICAO) in 2016. We initiated efforts last year aimed at becoming one of the 8 member countries representing Europe on the Council and, God willing, we are going to achieve our goal in 2016. That membership will crown Turkey’s growth of the last 10-12 years.

An international organization that works in coordination with civilian and military authorities, Eurocontrol is responsible for managing air traffic and ensuring airspace safety in the European region as well as expanding capacity to provide as efficient service as possible. In addition to managing Europe’s air traffic network on a daily basis, it also undertakes the key role of managing crisis situations. The task of ensuring the security of all airspace, which is managed according to standards and in harmony with all stakeholders, is carried out with contributions from Turkey as well. The role and contributions of each stakeholder in the airspace are at least as important as those of every other, and we therefore need to take a regional, indeed a global, view of aviation security news.

The purpose of European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol for short) is to support its member states to achieve safe, efficient and environmentally-friendly air traffic operations across the European region.

Representing the European region on the Governing Board of ACI World (Airports Council International), TAV Airports Executive Committee Chairman Sani Şener attributes the increase in the commercial value of airlines to service quality.

Ataturk Airport was one of Turkey’s biggest build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects when we took it over in 1997. It was completed ahead of schedule, in record time. Infrastructure at airports around the world is in a parlous state today, but the airports in Turkey are spanking new, and all are privatization projects. Airports are an entirely commercial business. In other words, if you don’t enhance their commercial value it’s impossible to keep them afloat on aviation revenues alone, or to serve the airlines.

Civil aviation around the world is managed by an organization known as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations with 191 members, each one of which has the right to control over its own civil aviation. You can’t simply go after profit in the aviation sector. National interests are the primary concern, and you also have to promote social benefit. The government may enact legislation to make aviation safer and more secure, but the fact is that you can’t have aviation without the private sector.

Founded in 1991, the Airports Council International (ACI) represents its member airports in their relations with governments and other aviation organizations, as well as being responsible for developing standards and policies.