Speaking to journalists attending the launch of Turkish Airline’s (THY) first flight to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, THY chairman Candan Karlıtekin said the Turkish flag carrier is determined to expand in global markets and that the executive board will decide on new destinations shortly.

“Our main target is to connect Turkey to every single country with THY flights,” the airline executive said. “THY has maintained sustainable growth in the global aviation market over the past few years while increasing its customer base.”

According to Karlıtekin, the company expects to tighten its grip on the market. He added that İstanbul’s prominent location in international air traffic has also contributed to THY’s success. “We will connect Turkey to every corner of the world.”

The THY executive said there are plans to add around 20 new international destinations to its flight network in the next three years. New flights will be added on North American routes, including daily flights to Toronto and flights to Los Angeles and Washington, DC, according to Karlıtekin. “We will separate the Brazil route from Dakar and fly directly to Sao Paulo. A third, and maybe even fourth destination can be considered in India.”

He added: “A few destinations have already been designated in China. We are also planning flights to Cambodia. We will fly to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Kinshasa. We also plan to organize flights to Colombo in Sri Lanka.”

Karlıtekin cited Bologna in Italy, Glasgow in the UK and Salzburg in Austria to be among THY’s new destinations in Europe. “We will go to Podgorica in Montenegro and Thessalonica as the second spot in Greece. Other planned locations include Tallinn in Estonia, Vilnius in Latvia and Bratislava in Slovakia. We are likely to complete launching new flights by 2012,” he added, noting that the airliner will start flying to Armenia once relations between Turkey and Armenia are normalized.

No more First Class
Karlıtekin said THY will eliminate first class and form a new class between business and economy. “We are planning to call it either ‘premium’ or ‘comfort.’ The seats will be 16 inches to 17 inches in economy class and 20 inches in the new class. In narrow-bodied aircraft, large double seats will replace triple seats. ‘Business-plus’ services will be provided within the framework of these changes.”

THY places a heavy emphasis on modernizing its fleet in addition to training a professional crew, he said. THY currently has more than 1,500 pilots and that they are considering hiring up to 10 percent foreign pilots in the near future. “We do not want to meet our pilot demand from the domestic market. If we do so, most pilots from other carriers will come to THY” he said. “We have a flight academy and expect to hire new crew members from there “As more Turkish pilots emerge, we will meet our demand from the country.”

With regards to plans concerning THY subsidiary Anadolu Jet, which serves only the domestic market, Karlıtekin said they expect to expand the company’s fleet to 12 planes.

“In an downturn environment, THY has managed to raise its capacity by 16 percent and its number of passengers by 10 percent,” the chairman added. “The company posted a profit in the first half of the year. The profit rate is lower than previous years, but amid the tough conditions of the global crisis, it is inevitable to make concessions about pricing. We are certainly expecting to see more of an upturn in the second half of the year.”