Turkish Airlines’ general manager for northern and eastern India, Huseyin Ozbek speaks to Rishita Roy Chowdhury about the Indian aviation market and its renewed appeal for international carriers.
Q. What makes India a viable market for Turkish Airlines?
A. Turkey and India enjoy warm relations, which has been gradually increasing year by year in both scope and depth and spans many different areas of cooperation. The number of Indian tourists travelling to Turkey has seen an upsurge and the Turkish Tourism Board expects this number to reach 250,000 in 2019. Flying to more countries and international destinations than any other airline in the world, with more than 300 destinations in 124 countries, we understand the needs of Indian passengers and have been investing a lot in customer satisfaction to meet the needs of our passengers and enhance their travel experience through the implementation of innovative practices at every stage of the journey. We are proud to be among the most preferred carriers operating in India, and with the rise in outbound travel in the country and the travel demand, India is a market we attach a great significance to.
Q. The Indian aviation space is also very competitive and price-sensitive. What are the challenges an international carrier faces in this country and how do you plan to overcome those challenges?
A. India has an enormous potential for growth in the aviation sector. International airlines like ours strive to increase their footprint on this geography with improved and diversified products and services offered to passengers. Passenger comfort and experience is our priority and we are confident about our unmatched privileged services offered to Indian passengers, from India to the world. Today, Turkish Airlines has daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai and the airline keeps working to further strengthen its presence in this country in the near future. Our recent codeshare agreement with IndiGo Airlines is a huge milestone for both the carriers and is expected to quickly expand commercial and tourism relations between the two countries. These partnerships help us to address the rising demand and stay competitive in the market.
Q. Could you tell us more about Turkish Airlines’ recent tie-up with IndiGo Airlines in India?
A. India is not only one of the key destinations for our company, but also a partner country in the context of the sector’s global growth. We announced our codeshare and mutual cooperation agreement with IndiGo in December 2018. This strategic partnership enables both carriers to provide more flexibility of choice to their respective customers to fly on sectors between India, Istanbul and beyond. This is the first codeshare agreement for IndiGo as part of its international expansion strategy. Through this cooperation, we are offering new destinations in India as Marketing Carrier on IndiGo-operated flights, while IndiGo customers will be able to reach many European destinations through Turkish Airlines’ extensive network. This reciprocal arrangement will allow us to provide seamless connections to our customers… This is a great opportunity for both the carriers.
Q. Tell us about the new layover services, like complimentary stays at hotels and city tours of Istanbul for transit passengers, introduced by Turkish Airlines. What was the idea behind these services?
A. Experience is important to every passenger, and Turkish Airlines aims to offer the best choices to its guests to discover the world. We understand long layovers can be stressful for passengers. Keeping passenger comfort in mind and with the idea to curate memorable experiences for passengers, we launched unique services to make our passengers look forward to the layover during their travels.
We have two key services at this point: Touristanbul and Stopover. The Stopover service is especially designed for passengers to discover Istanbul before continuing their journey during their transit time of more than 20 hours. Passengers can have a complimentary stay in a five-star hotel for two days on Business Class trips, and in a four-star hotel for one day on Economy Class trips. We have a tie-up with more than 10 hotels in Istanbul’s heart, Taksim or Historical Peninsula. The idea is to encourage passengers to discover Istanbul and turn a layover into a vacation.
In addition to this, the Touristanbul facility, which is another service provided by us, gives passengers a quick tour of Istanbul during their layover. The complimentary Touristanbul service includes transfers, access to historical sights of interest, as well as a sampling of Turkey’s famed cuisine. A night cruise and a luxurious dinner as part of the Bosphorus tour have also been added to the Touristanbul facility, with which passengers can enjoy some breathtaking views of waterfront palaces, mosques and bridges.
Q. Are you planning to expand your India base any further?
A. India has always been an attractive destination for Turkish Airlines, both in terms of operating flights and promoting tourism. We first launched our operations to India with flights to and from New Delhi in 2003. Then, services were further expanded to Mumbai on 5 May 2006. Today, we operate daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai and hope to develop our activities further in the near future, while continuing our efforts to develop products and services to cater to the needs of the developing Indian tourism sector. With best-in-class services, an impressively diverse route map and committed investment towards civil aviation in India, Turkish Airlines is taking firm steps forward on its long and successful journey in India.
Q. Turkish Airlines is flying to more countries than any other airline in the world. What’s your vision for the airline for the next decade?
A. Turkish Airlines is dedicated to ensuring a premium journey to its passengers, and is always seeking ways to enrich the passenger experience. Today, Turkish Airlines has a fleet of 339 (passenger and cargo) aircraft flying to 311 worldwide destinations—261 international and 50 domestic—in 124 countries. We are committed to continuously expanding our range of services on- and off-ground as we grow in reach and fly to more countries and international destinations than any other carrier in the world. Our shift to our brand-new home base, Istanbul Airport, is one of the most significant cornerstones in Turkish aviation history… Our new operation centre offers an important opportunity for us to amplify our globally unparalleled flight network performance even further. Thus, we are working on new strategies to capitalise on this opportunity, and we continue to add new destinations to our network through meaningful partnerships.