Thursday, April 10, 2014

Turkish Airlines’ fleet surge creates commonality challenge

Turkish Airlines is struggling to keep pace with its own fleet expansion, as it battles to harmonize 12 different inflight entertainment (IFE) systems, 12 economy seat designs and another 15 variations in business class.
“It’s hard to manage our very, very fast growth. All our IFE systems and seats are different right now, but we are trying to unify them,” Turkish AirlinesSVP-ground operations Mehmet Buyukkaytan told the Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg.
In 2005, Turkish expected to operate 200 aircraft by 2014; however, its fleet now stands at 249 aircraft and is expected to further swell to 436 aircraft by 2021.
“We need more aircraft. We are just looking everywhere for them and we take whatever we can find. We have 12 different IFE systems, 12 different seats in economy class and 15 different seats in business. Ultimately, we are going to standardize; we are going to do it [ourselves]. It will take five or six years, something like that,” Buyukkaytan said, noting that Turkish has its own seating company.
The fast-growing carrier currently serves 249 destinations, taking advantage of its geographical position between Europe and Asia. Under its rapid expansion plan, the carrier is planning to grow from 48 million passengers in 2013 to around 60 million this year. By 2023, this figure is expected to hit 120 million, supported by a fleet of 450 aircraft.
This growth is putting pressure on the infrastructure at Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul home base, although this should be resolved with the construction of a third airport, joining Istanbul Ataturk and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen.
“Istanbul Ataturk Airport is too small. The capacity of the original design was 30 million passengers and last year we did a little under 50 million. I don’t know how we are doing it, but we are doing it. The government just signed with a consortium to create a new airport. It’s going to be finished in late 2018 or early 2019,” Buyukkaytan said.

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