Dubai: Turkish Airlines is planning to launch services of its low-cost subsidiary, AnadoluJet, in Dubai when it gets permission for additional flights to the UAE, a senior executive told Gulf News.
“We want to increase flights to the UAE — both Dubai and Abu Dhabi — as passenger traffic on the UAE-Istanbul sector is growing at a faster pace,” Aysee Misirli Mirza, Turkish Airlines’ director for Dubai and Sri Lanka, said in an interview.
“AnadoluJet would be able to start flights as soon as we get sufficient traffic rights to the UAE.”
Currently a number of budget carriers including flydubai, Air India Express, and Jazeera Airways are serving Dubai, which is going to be the base of flydubai’s operations.
Saj Ahmad, aerospace/airline analyst at the UK-based FBE Aerospace, said: “Its subsidiary will find life very difficult in Dubai. Firstly, there is no guarantee it will get slots in Dubai. Jazeera Airways was the last low-cost airline there [to use Dubai as a hub] and it didn’t last long. With the presence of the world’s fast-growing, low-cost airline, flydubai, the market will not only be crowded, but the unique position of flydubai means it will have much more capability to outprice and snare customers with its classier product.”
Turkish currently operates 18 flights a week including 14 to Dubai and four to Abu Dhabi.
“It is entirely feasible that Sharjah and Abu Dhabi become prime choices — neither of which are bad per se, but in terms of getting a decent footprint in Dubai rests largely [on] whether the airline is able to take more risks in expanding its operations to make its UAE services attractive enough to keep rivals at bay. Judging by the inherent success of Emirates and flydubai, this will not be an easy feat and it makes much more sense to go to other UAE cities where low cost competition is a little less pressurised,” Ahmad said.
Mirza said she expects to expand the services to 21 flights to Dubai and seven to Abu Dhabi, before launching the low-cost services to the UAE.
“Our seat load factor has increased 7 per cent to 84 per cent this year and we have carried 129,404 during the first seven months of this year compared to 127,000 during the corresponding period last year,” she said.
Services to the UAE have been profitable for the Turkish national carrier.
“Within the first seven months, we generated sales of 31 million euros [Dh144,769], up from 25 million euros during the same period last year,” she said. “Profits for the first seven months crossed 4 million euros on the Dubai-Istanbul sector as there has been an increase in business class passengers.”
She said Turkish is currently promoting destinations across its network of 165 destinations with a fleet of 142 aircraft via its hub Istanbul.
“Our services are becoming extremely popular to East European and Scandinavian destinations as we provide one of the best connectivities,” Mirza said. The airline has placed orders for 105 aircraft that will help launch services to more destinations. It is in the process of starting flights to 10 destinations, including Washington, Los Angeles, Vietnam, Bologna, Basra, Erbil, Shiraj, Dhaka, Novosibriska and Podgorica.
Established in 1933, the airline carried 25 million passengers last year, with 12,000 employees.
Despite the financial crisis, the airline remains profitable. According to Turkish Airlines’ financial statements, the airline’s sales revenue has increased by 28 per cent in monetary terms, reaching 1.8 billion euros during the first six months of 2010, while its net profit has increased by a staggering 181 per cent to 134 million euros. Operating profit, on the other hand, reached a total of 55 million euros, a 34 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2009, which is attributed to a 74 per cent increase in fuel expenses.
The number of passengers carried increased by 19.3 per cent, reaching 13.4 million passengers.
Ahmad said: “Turkish Airlines has been one of the few carriers in Europe to continuously grow over the last few years for two key reasons. Firstly, Turkey has invested a lot of money in its tourism and leisure industries to snare European holidaymakers looking for a budget vacation in the wake of recessionary pressures on their income and secondly because Turkish Airlines has an excellent performance record matched with a superb cabin product.
“It is for this reason it has been continuously ordering jets from Airbus and Boeing to capture the huge market it has at its feet.”
Turkey has relaxed visa rules for travellers from South Asian countries, Aysee Misirli Mirza, Turkish Airlines’ director for Dubai and Sri Lanka, said.
“Those South Asian travellers who possess a valid US or EU visa, do not require visas to enter Turkey, under a new visa rule,” she said. “They will get tourist entry visa upon arrival at the airport. This will reduce hassles for Gulf-based expatriates from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to visit Turkey.
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