Turk­ish con­nec­tion has given a new sheen to non-stop fly­ing

Air­line­news

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - AU­DREY D’AN­GELO

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.

PIC: REUTERS

IS­TAN­BUL: Boats sell­ing fish sand­wiches at the Golden Horn, with Sa­banci Mosque in the back­ground .

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