Ihsan Baytan, general manager, New York for Turkish Airlines lays out a big vision for the carrier and the country
One on One with Ihsan Baytan, GM NewYork for Turkish Airlines. Guangzhou set to adopt 72 hour visa-free policy. United and US Airways increase domestic change fees. Frontier announces charges for carry-on baggage and drinks. Aloft partners with Design within Reach. Supreme Court lets DOT rulemaking stand. Hertz takes a stake in China Auto Rental. American adds Flagship Check-in at JFK. St. Ermin’s London joins Marriot’s Autograph Collection. Alaska upgrades seats, adds power. Hilton NewYork celebrates 50 years.
BT: Turkish Airlines is one of the fastest growing carriers on the planet. What future plans are underway to allow you to continue this growth?
Baytan: We recently signed the largest deal in Turkish aviation history when we ordered 117 Airbus aircraft and 70 new narrow-body planes from Boeing. With the addition of these new planes, the average age of our fleet will drop from 6.6 years to 5 years by the end of 2020.
BT: What’s the one thing that makes your product different that you truly enjoy talking about?
Baytan: From our Flying Chef service in Business Class and our beautiful amenity kits to our entertainment options including LIVE television and WiFi on some flights (free on all cabins), we offer a wide variety of entertainment options in addition to our delicious, award-winning cuisine. Comfort Class has been a real hit from day-one, not only for the leisure traveler but also for our corporate passengers as well.
We have a large global network and fly to 222 destinations in 99 countries (including several destinations in Africa and North America). Thirty-nine million passengers chose to fly with us in 2012 and we hope to reach 46 million passengers in 2013.
BT: What’s happening with your services and facilities on the ground?
Baytan: While flight times and in-flight comfort are the most important factors when it comes to customer satisfaction, we think that the experiences they have in our lounges and clubs are equally important. Our Turkish Corporate Club rewards program offers many options such as re-booking, re-routing, and refunds with no penalty fees.
Istanbul has been an extremely busy and successful hub for us. Although improvements to runways, baggage handling, terminal buildings and other ground services are being made, the government is also thinking about the long-term future and has already laid the plans for a 150-million-passenger-a-year airport on the northern part of Istanbul.