With a significant increase in its number of transit passengers connecting through Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, Turkish Airlines (THY) on March 1 launched a pilot project, providing free accommodation to passengers with 20 hours in transit.
THY, under the pilot project called "Stopover," will arrange free accommodation in Istanbul for passengers originating from Pakistan, traveling to the U.S., U.K., Ireland or other European Union countries if they have 20 hours or more in transit. The passengers will be hosted at different four or five-star hotels in Istanbul's Sultanahmet and/or Taksim area, depending on their ticket class.
Using a hotel check, arranged by THY's Karachi office, economy class passengers will be to stay overnight in four-star hotels, while business class passengers will get the opportunity to stay two nights at a five-star establishment. To that end, hotel tracking systems have been established at THY's Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad offices.
If the project is a success it may later be expanded to cover passengers from other countries as well.
As THY braces for the possible effects of the onboard electronics ban for U.S. and U.K. flights, it is quietly launching this new project, which is expected to boost the number of transit passengers as well as contribute to local tourism.
Last year, more than 21 million out of THY's 62 million passengers were transit passengers, and many of these transit passengers, instead of waiting at the airport, would prefer to visit historical and touristic spots in Istanbul.
The project is expected to promote Istanbul, turning it into a global transfer center and eventually contributing to the country's tourism. The project is also likely to have a positive effect on the hotel sector and shopping destinations in Istanbul.