Turkish Airlines (THY), which holds the title of the airline that flies to the most countries and the most points in the world, realized its longest flight of 15 hours and 15 minutes to Mexico last week. After the launch of the latest destinations to Mexico and Cancun, Turkey's national flag carrier now eyes new destinations to Las Vegas, Orlando and Seattle.
Taking firm steps toward becoming a global brand in aviation, THY realized its longest flight and demonstrated its desire for rapid growth all over the world, especially in far regions such as South America and Asia.
Turkish Airlines' scheduled flight from Istanbul to Mexico City last Thursday ended with a two-hour flight to Cancun, the most popular tourist centers in the American continent, after a one-hour waiting time on land.
With this flight, THY increased the number of its destinations to 126 and with newly added Mexico City and Cancun, the number of cities it connects to 315.
THY Chairman İlker Aycı, who was on that flight, talked to a group of journalists about the company's goals, new period expectations, and competition in the market. Aycı said that South America was a difficult market but had been on their radar for a long time.
"Our goal is to transport 100,000 passengers per year and 1,800 per week," Aycı said. "We can add Cabo San Lucas as well as Mexico City and Cancun to our network in line with the developments. Scheduling three routes a week is a good start in Mexico right now. If we see the growth potential of the market, we can increase it to four to five frequencies."
Aycı also explained that they are seeking new markets in North America and that they are working on Seattle, Orlando, and Las Vegas to continue their growth in North America.
Speaking of the THY's 24 Boeing 737 Max planes, the company's chairman recalled that the aircraft are currently on the ground after the latest crash of Ethiopian Airlines.
"We had to cut 8-9% capacity; 40% of this cut was domestic, and 60% was from international," he continued. "Twelve of the planes are in Istanbul and 12 in the factory in Seattle. We are missing 24 planes. Boeing could not give us these planes. This is a global crisis. It is not clear when it will be solved. The company promised the delivery for October. Boeing needs to take a step in eliminating our grievances."
Aycı also commented on the impact of 24 missing aircraft and market conditions on the business.
"While we cut capacity by 7-8%, the numbers cut by the carriers outside our domestic lines are much more than THY," he noted. "We fly to 50 domestic points. In some of these cities, we feel lonely in the skies. We would like to see our other friends with us. I say this especially to those who cut 25% to 30% capacity. I leave this to the discretion of our people."
Referring to ticket prices, Aycı said the ceiling ticket price rose from TL 309 in 2013 to TL 352. "A plane ticket from Istanbul to Trabzon is TL 352, while the bus costs TL 210. A plane ticket to Van is TL 250, while the same price is also charged for a bus," Aycı further stressed. "If we look at where bus and train prices have come from that day, we understand that airlines should be at least 20% more expensive than today's price. We fly 20% cheaper than it should be."
İlker Aycı said that the efficiency of the new airport is proved by factual data. "There is a 5.6% increase in international passenger transit," he said and added, "During the latest bayram holiday, we surpassed Atatürk Airport directly in the number of flights. We managed this even though we were missing 24 planes. If we had these planes, we would have broken records with over 600 takeoffs."
Aycı stressed the importance of moving Istanbul Airport.
"There are companies in the world that move to a new airport and go bankrupt. We set an example for the world in this issue," he continued.
"We moved on April 5-6. Seven weeks later, we carried 2.5 million passengers with the holiday operation. In the fourth months, we carried another 2.5 million passengers during Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha). We brought 5 million passengers throughout two holidays. We reduced the taxi duration from 28 minutes to 18 minutes. Efficiency is increasing day by day. Without spending a winter or a summer, Istanbul Airport cannot be expected to be as compact and efficient as Atatürk Airport."
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