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Turkish Airlines forecasts recovery, growth for sector


Turkish Airlines / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

Turkish Airlines / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

Launches report on Nigeria

Current challenges facing the Nigerian aviation sector notwithstanding, Turkish airlines’ experts have reinstated confidence in the Nigerian market and its ability to survive present economic recession.

The experts, following a review of developments in the last couple of months, said that the market remains viable with enormous potential for growth.

In a related development, the airline has launched Aviation Trend 2015 report, which feels the pulse of the Nigerian air passengers with the aim of understanding their needs.

Sharing their findings with The Guardian, General Manager, Turkish Airlines Nigeria, Tarkan Ince, said even as the urge to quit the Nigerian market continue to grow in the face of challenges, the European airline has begun moves to expand operations in Nigeria amid opportunities concealed by current problems.

Ince said they were not unaware of the exit of the likes of Iberia, United, Alitalia among others, and they are not immune too their problems.

He said: “There is a problem with the foreign exchange and the dollar availability in the market is scarce. Taking out the money is a problem for us.

All our money here in the country is stuck and I think we are one of those airlines that pay income tax because we don’t have a double tax agreement with Nigeria.

“We see that the circumstances that Nigeria is facing at this moment are temporary and we hope it should be temporary. It doesn’t matter how long it takes eventually, it will be solved.

“And we have power enough to stay on the field, make the investments and stay next to the government and the state giving our full support. Because in the end, Nigeria is a big state, Turkish Airline is a company that can afford to stay and in the end, things will be better for all.

“We see these chances of times and the difficulties as opportunities. Though we have to take some precautions but we will remain on the field active,” he said.

The General Manager noted that the airline, one of the best in Europe, has continue to expand and Nigeria is part of their plans.

According to him, the airline currently flies to 116 countries and 291 international destinations with 339 aircrafts (from 65 in 2006). No fewer than 63.4 million people are to be carried this year alone with revenue of $9.5billion.

The airlines currently fly to Lagos, Abuja and Kano, with the plan to extend operations to Port Harcourt and run daily frequency to Lagos. No fewer than 40,000 passengers have been carried from Lagos since the year began and the projection is 60,000.

“With Turkey’s location, 60 per cent of air traffic is passing over Turkey and we are only getting 2.5 per cent of it. Building the third airport in Istanbul, which will be completed in three phases, it will be able to host about 200 to 250 million passengers. With this, we said we will like to understand what the passengers will want to see and that inform the idea of the report. It is specified for each countries and this is for Nigeria,” Ince said.

The study, conducted by Forsa Institute for Social Research and Statistical Analysis in seven countries, including Nigeria, shows among other that 99 per cent of Nigerian air travellers are cautious about the safety standard of airlines when booking a mid- or long-haul flight.

The study also shows that first-class support- before, during and after the flight is essential for the success of any airline.

Out of people surveyed for travel behaviour in Nigeria, 42 per cent have not travelled by plane at all in the last two years, 21 per cent have taken one or two flights, 19 per cent travelled by plane three to four times while only 17 per cent have taken flights more frequently. About 61 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they had travelled short-haul in the past two years. 21 per cent had taken medium-haul flights, and 32 per cent chose a long-haul flight.

Passengers indicated that an airline’s reputation is a crucial aspect, with 99 per cent of all those interviewed designating that an airline’s safety record is important for them. This figure is even higher for travellers flying more frequently, and that 100 per cent believed that airline’s safety record is important or very important.

Other passengers also desire a seating comfort and good entertainment. For instance, 98 per cent of the passenger wants to have a friendly, attentive and accessible staff. Apart from this, 97 per cent also wants a clean cabin and lavatory while 93 per cent also prefers wider seat spacing including economy class.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Turkish Airlines, Dr. Temel Kotil, said the study would contribute to creating more diversification and innovation within the Nigerian Aviation business.

The 2015 Aviation Trends was conducted in seven countries including; Germany, UK, USA, Japan, UAE, South Africa and Nigeria.

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