Turkish connection has given a new sheen to non-stop flying
THE DAYS when it was considered a hardship to take connecting flights to an ultimate destination rather than flying nonstop have been over for a long time.
Taking this into consideration we have an astonishingly wide range of destinations available to us from our own Cape Town Airport with no need to go to Joburg. This was brought into sharp focus two weeks ago when, as I mentioned last week, Turkish Airlines, which flies here daily all year round with a refuelling stop in Joburg en route, won the CAPA (Centre for Aviation) award for excellence and for its influence on the development of the industry.
It has built up a route network of more than 200 destinations ranging from both London (Heathrow) and London (Gatwick) to Kathmandu in Nepal.
Dubai-based Emirates, which is also among airlines flying here all year round, also has an impressive network, particularly in India. But Turkish is one of SAA’s partners in the international Star Alliance, which means that members of our national carrier’s frequent flyer programme can earn miles while flying in comfort on a new Airbus A330-300.
Zafer Bolukbasi, Turkish Airlines’ general manager at Cape Town, tells me that, not surprisingly, it carries a large number of South African passengers but, surprisingly, almost 80 percent of them go on to other destinations with only a short stopover to explore Turkey’s fascinating capital city of Istanbul.
Although Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country – with a secular constitution and no religious restrictions on women’s activities or style of dressing – the airline is very popular with Jewish passengers and Israel the airline’s No1 destination.
“The first connecting flight on our arrival in Istanbul is to Tel Aviv in Israel”, Bolukbasi said.
It also carries large numbers of German citizens whose parents or grandparents went to Germany as Turkish immigrant workers and brought up families there.
Between 5 and 10 percent of passengers are British and it has seven flights a day from Istanbul to London – Heathrow in particular.
An impressive list of destinations in Africa include Nairobi, Lagos, Kinshasa, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Gavin Halliday, British Airways’general manager for Africa and Europe, who was in Cape Town this month to announce that it would increase its flights to Cape Town from 2 a day in summer and 1 a day in winter, to 10 a week in the winter months, said the fact that this could be done in what was normally considered the trough season, when most other foreign airlines withdrew for the season, was a credit to the work that had been done to market Cape Town as an all-year-round destination. It also vindicated BA’s persistence in flying here all year round.
He pointed out the extra flights will also enable more South Africans to access the rest of BA’s international network through connecting flights in Heathrow. BA’s joint business with American Airlines has already delivered a wider choice and more flexibility on flights across the Atlantic.
ISTANBUL: Boats selling fish sandwiches at the Golden Horn, with Sabanci Mosque in the background .