Turk­ish Air­lines builds Is­tan­bul into a tran­sit hub to the African con­ti­nent

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By JING SHUIYU jing­shuiyu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In an ef­fort to boost mar­ket share, Turk­ish Air­lines is build­ing its trans­fer busi­ness, in which pas­sen­gers from China can change planes in Is­tan­bul, said a com­pany ex­ec­u­tive.

The Is­tan­bul-based com­pany has been tai­lor­ing travel routes to the African con­ti­nent to win Chi­nese tourists, said Ma Lin, sales man­ager ofTurk­ish Air­lines China.

The shift in sales strat­egy came after Turk­ish tourism plunged as the coun­try was af­fected by ter­ror­ist at­tacks and po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence in the first half of the year, ac­cord­ing toMa.

“It has ex­erted some im­pact on the busi­ness in China at that time, but it is man­age­able,” saidMa.

The com­pany has started rec­om­mend­ing African coun­tries, such as Tu­nisia and Morocco, as des­ti­na­tions. Chi­nese pas­sen­gers fly­ing to Africa with Turk­ish Air­lines can reach 48 des­ti­na­tions in 27 coun­tries.

The air­lines’ seat oc­cu­pancy, ac­cord­ing to Ma, was 85 per­cent in Septem­ber, higher than the in­dus­try av­er­age, and the pas­sen­ger base was solid, fu­eled by the out­bound travel frenzy dur­ing China’s sev­en­dayNa­tional Day (Oct 1-7) hol­i­day.

Ma said sales in­Oc­to­berand Novem­ber in China are ex­pected to be sta­ble.

Tourism in African coun­tries has plenty of room for growth, com­pared with that in ma­ture mar­kets like South­east Asia, Europe, Ja­pan and South Korea, said Romeo Tai, North China rep­re­sen­ta­tive with travel agency Com­fort Travel & In­vest­ment Ser­vices (Pty) Ltd.

Tai said the num­ber of Chi­nese trav­el­ing to South Africa would in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly in the fourth quar­ter.

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