Germany-based Flixmobility GMBH, better known as Europe's leading bus operator FlixBus, officially applied on Wednesday to Turkey's competition watchdog to acquire Kamil Koç, the country's second-largest bus company. Given the size of the Turkish market and its growth potential, FlixBus said it is a great opportunity to enter Turkey in order to expand the company's service capacity.
The Turkish coach firm's domestic activities will become a part of the FlixBus' network consisting of 28 countries in Europe and the U.S. across more than 2,000 points with 350,000 coach service operations per day in total.
In a statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday, the Communications Department of FlixBus stressed that the size of the Turkish market is a unique opportunity for the company's goal to enhance service capacity. "We will add value to the Turkish market not only to the travel experience of passengers thanks to our technology-based approach," the statement said.
When asked whether the affordable ticket policy that has been implemented in the European market will continue in Turkey, the company said, "We have completed our application to the Competition Authority of Turkey. Following the conclusion of our application, we will share the details of our strategy in the Turkish market."
The initial priority of the company will be the domestic destinations in Turkey, yet the company added, "Connecting big Turkish cities to other cities in the region through regional FlixBus network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) complies with our vision."
"We aim to offer Turkish passengers the most affordable and comprehensive travel options. We believe that the century-old experience of Kamil Koç is invaluable for our entry to the Turkish market," the statement read.
Established in 1926, Kamil Koç is the oldest Turkish bus company still in operation. A family business, Kamil Koç strengthened its market position in the early 2000s and was sold to Actera Group in 2013 for $65 million. The company has a fleet of 1,100 buses and employs some 8,000 people. Serving nearly 20 million passengers in 2018, Kamil Koç operates 861 ticketing offices in 271 districts in 61 provinces. The company is listed among the top 500 firms in Turkey.
"We are extremely happy to welcome Kamil Koç to the family to start a new era in the Turkish mobility market. After assessing the business, we will be working toward expanding the existing network even further and optimizing schedules toward demand – all based on our increasingly data-driven tools and algorithms – to improve the customer experience. With our technology platform and other product innovations, Turkish bus travelers will benefit from affordable mobility, high safety standards, great service, and more complete and convenient travel options," FlixBus CEO and founder Jochen Engert was quoted as saying.
FlixBus was established in 2013 after the deregulation of the bus market in Germany, where intercity travel was long dominated by state-run Deutsche Bahn trains. It soon expanded to other European countries that also carried out similar deregulation moves. The company now offers services in 30 countries, including Germany, Italy, France, the Benelux states, and Poland, where it is the market leader. FlixBus carried 45 million passengers in 2018 in Europe and in the U.S and has served more than 100 million people so far.
Generally offering intercity coach services, FlixBus sells tickets priced as low as 1 euro in Europe. While there is no on-board assistant on FlixBus buses, the company does not offer treats to passengers during the travel time – which is a traditional Turkish coach travel experience.