By Emma Ujah, who was in Istanbul
Turkish Airlines has applied to the Federal Government for approval to fly into Abuja and Kano. The airline already flies Istanbul-Lagos on daily basis.
According to the Chief Executive Officer and President of the company, Dr. Temel Kotil, Turkish Airlines sees Nigeria as a growing market for the company’s strategic focus destinations and the additional flights into the two cities as very lucrative, with potentials to strengthen the economic ties between Nigeria and Turkey.
Kotil spoke with a group of Nigerian journalists who were on a facility tour at the airlines’ headquarters and Turkish Flight Training Centre in Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial nerve centre, last week.
He said his company was eager to commence daily flights into Abuja and Kano, as soon as the Federal Ministry of Aviation gives the necessary approval and signs the agreement to that effect.
His words, “With its huge resources, Africa is the place to go. We want to expand our business in that continent. With her huge population and resources, we want to increase our flights to Nigeria. We want to fly into Abuja, Kano and Enugu.”
According to Kotil, Turkish Airlines wants to be the strongest carrier operation connecting Africa and the rest of the World and that his country’s global geographical position gives his company a comparative advantage over its competitors in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, describing Turkey as “a cultural and economic gateway” to several nations of the world.
The CEO said that Turkish Airlines is the seventh largest airline in terms of network size, flying into 161 international destinations and 34 domestic destinations, as at last month.
According to him, the secret of the airlines’ success has been superior quality at competitive costs as it has built a young fleet of 200 aircraft with an average age of 6 years.
With a total of 2, 500 pilots and a cabin crew strength of 5, 500, Turkish Airlines’ boss disclosed that his organization has invested heavily on simulation facilities for the training and retraining of its pilots and cabin crew to ensure they remained on top of their jobs.
Kotil said that a retraining programme has been designed for all pilots to return to the simulation cockpits every six months, saying it is compulsory for all of them to pass the training examinations before resuming flights, while the cabin crew members also return to base for retraining on a regular basis.