BT: What excites you most about Turkish Airlines’ accomplishments in 2018 and in the year ahead?
AYCI: Thanks to increasing demand and unit revenues, Turkish Airlines posted a profit from main operations of $1.149 billion in the first nine months of 2018, despite the increases in fuel prices. Our third quarter results highlight the emphasis we put on strengthening and improving our flight infrastructure and network. Sales revenues also rose to $9.9 billion, a 20 percent increase year over year.
BT: What challenges do you see ahead for the industry and specifically for Turkish Airlines?
AYCI: The airline sector today is extremely competitive. Technological changes, increasing passenger demands, and optimizing the business processes will all be important for the industry in the coming years. What makes the difference is to implement the changes gradually and productively. To this end, we invest heavily in R&D, with both in-house proprietary data analysis and by partnering with independent research providers. Since innovation and research are already a part of our company culture, we are constantly improving our brand experience by presenting new designs, products, and services.
BT: How does the new Istanbul Airport play into your overall strategy?
AYCI: While Turkish Airlines confidently moves towards its 2023 goals – a 500-aircraft fleet and a 4 percent share in global aviation – the new Istanbul Airport will play a key role in realizing the potential of our country, industry, and brand. Istanbul Airport will provide passengers with a redefined travel experience with its “built from scratch” terminal utilizing the latest technologies and innovations.
BT: Tell us about the strategy behind the recent order of some 30 new 787-9 aircraft.
AYCI: We have one of the youngest fleets in the world with an average age of eight years, taking advantage of increased fuel efficiency, long range technologies and improved comfort. While expanding its fleet size, Turkish Airlines also plans to improve its business experience for our corporate travelers. We are focusing on our new passenger programs, including our Corporate Club, and are planning to offer a distinctive experience for all of our business class passengers. With the new Boeing 787-9 fleet this year, we will introduce our new seats that will adopt a modern 1-2-1 layout.
BT: What are your plans for the North American market and globally?
AYCI: Turkish Airlines flies to 305 destinations in 123 countries on five continents and connects 17 cities in the Americas to more than 40 countries that are less than three hours flight distance from Istanbul. The new Istanbul Airport will allow for more than 350 destinations all around the world making it one of the connection points for our existing North American destinations.
BT: How important is the business class product to the airline?
AYCI: At Turkish Airlines, we value our business and corporate travelers. Many of the hallmarks of Turkish Airlines’ award-winning services are developed with a long-term vision of creating a seamless door-to-door experience for business travelers. Features such as high-end lounges, stopover services and quality in-flight catering have ultimately elevated the overall product for all passengers.
BT: Even with global upheaval, Turkish Airlines seems undaunted. What does your crystal ball tell you?
AYCI: In its 85-year-long history, Turkish Airlines has amassed enough experience and expertise to allow us to navigate successfully during difficult times. Despite various regional and global uncertainties, thanks to our flexibility, perseverance, and experience, we posted very successful results. Our agile and flexible company culture allows us to quickly adapt to difficult situations and prevail.
BT: How do you sum up the spirit of Turkish Airlines?
AYCI: The quality we attach to our entire range of services carries the core values of Turkish culture. The experience of a Turkish Airlines passenger is distinctive, not just because we offer great seats, food, and amenities, but because we offer these with our hospitality. We give utmost importance to research and innovation as we continually improve our products and services. Finally, our greatest investment always goes to our most coveted asset, our employees. On board of any airplane or at any airport, we feel at home as part of the Turkish Airlines family, and welcome all our passengers to be a part of our family.