Africa remains a priority for national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) as the airline continues to expand its horizons to all four corners of the world, a senior airline official told visiting journalists yesterday.
The flag carrier flies to nearly 40 destinations in Africa, second only to Ethiopian Airlines and first in terms of cargo services, said Tuncay Eminoğlu."We give priority to Africa," he told members of the media from Ethiopia visiting Istanbul, Turkey's historic tourist attraction and commercial capital.
During a two-day trip, organized by Turkish Airlines, participants got the chance to visit historical sites in Turkey and the operations of Turkish Airlines, including its award-winning flight training center.
In a presentation to the journalists, Eminoğlu said the airline saw 12.8 percent growth in its passenger numbers between 2008 and 2018, three times the world average.
Turkish Cargo, the airline's freight division, serves 86 destinations, with its global market share growing from 0.7 percent in 2010 to 2.22 percent in 2018.
The ultra-modern Istanbul Airport, which opened last fall, should accommodate growing passenger and cargo demands across the world, he said.
Turkish Airlines' Istanbul hub is the largest in the world, said Eminoğlu.
Established in 1933, Turkish Airlines flies to 311 destinations in 124 countries – a huge leap from its humble beginning of four Turkish destinations in 1933, and 55 countries and 103 destinations in 2003.
In 2018, the company carried 75.2 million passengers with a seat occupancy rate of 82 percent, and this year aims to reach 80 million passengers on domestic and international routes.
"Last year, 40 million visitors came to Turkey," he said, stressing the close link between tourism and the aviation industry, which Turkish Airlines taps into for its growth and expansion.
When asked if U.S. aircraft maker Boeing grounding its 737-8 Max aircraft worldwide amid safety concerns had had an impact on Turkish Airlines expansion, Eminoğlu said any impact had been minimal. "We have 12 Boeing 737 Maxes, but we managed to make up for that by employing our Airbus fleet," he said.