Business Traveler (USA) - - UPFRONT -

BT: The big up­com­ing news is the open­ing of the new Is­tan­bul air­port. This is an ex­cit­ing event, not only for Turkey but the en­tire global avi­a­tion net­work.

Ekşi: The new air­port will be more than three times the size of Bei­jing Air­port sit­ting on 7,597 hectares of land. The new air­ports’ an­nual ca­pac­ity is set to be around 150-250 mil­lion pas­sen­gers. Upon com­ple­tion of the first phase, the air­port will be able to han­dle 3,500 take­offs and land­ings daily. On-site the air­port will host a lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel spe­cially de­signed for guests, as well as con­ven­tion and of­fice spa­ces, more than 400 re­tail brands, and the world’s largest Duty-Free shop­ping at 53,000 square me­ters.

BT: What do you think it will mean for travel world­wide?

Ekşi: The flights will be de­part­ing to more than 350 des­ti­na­tions around the world mak­ing the air­port the world's largest con­nec­tion point for in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ers.

BT: Why is that im­por­tant for busi­ness trav­el­ers out of North Amer­ica?

Ekşi: In a re­cent Nielsen sur­vey com­mis­sioned by Turk­ish Air­lines on US con­sumer avi­a­tion trends, 40 per­cent of pas­sen­gers rank con­nec­tiv­ity as the third most im­por­tant driver of air­line choice, be­hind only price and sched­ule.

BT: What else did you dis­cover about your US cus­tomers in that sur­vey?

Ekşi: Amer­i­can trav­el­ers are more in­ter­ested in keep­ing air travel one of the last spa­ces to stay dis­con­nected from cell phone cov­er­age to keep the in-flight ex­pe­ri­ence free of po­ten­tial nui­sance and dis­tur­bance. As tech­nol­ogy has im­proved to al­low charg­ing and more on­line con­nec­tiv­ity, that op­po­si­tion to cell cov­er­age has con­tin­ued to grow since 2015.

The re­port also found that among US trav­el­ers, the most im­por­tant in­flight fac­tor is the clean­li­ness of the cabin and lava­tory (96 per­cent). Other highly im­por­tant fac­tors for pas­sen­gers in­clude: friendly, at­ten­tive and ac­ces­si­ble staff (94 per­cent); wider seat spac­ing in all classes (93 per­cent); qual­ity food and bev­er­age op­tions (92 per­cent); and con­sole screen on the back of the seat for en­ter­tain­ment and in­for­ma­tion (90 per­cent). In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity (77 per­cent) is the most ex­pected fea­ture.

BT: Re­search seems to be an im­por­tant part of your mar­ket­ing strat­egy. How are you us­ing it to shape the fu­ture of Turk­ish Air­lines?

Ekşi: We are con­tin­u­ally im­prov­ing and in­no­vat­ing by in­vest­ing heav­ily in R&D, with both in-house pro­pri­etary data anal­y­sis, and part­ner­ships with in­de­pen­dent re­search providers. We con­stantly and care­fully re­view var­i­ous re­sults to de­ter­mine avi­a­tion trends and con­sumer de­mands, with out­comes of­ten find­ing their way into our prod­ucts and ser­vices.

BT: What’s your vi­sion for the fu­ture of Turk­ish Air­lines as a lead­ing global car­rier five or ten years out? Ekşi: While Turk­ish Air­lines con­fi­dently moves to­wards its 2023 goals – a 500-air­craft fleet and a 4 per­cent share in global avi­a­tion – the Is­tan­bul New Air­port will play a key role in re­al­iz­ing the po­ten­tial of our coun­try, our in­dus­try, and our brand. With our young and mod­ern fleet, ever-ex­pand­ing flight net­work and our com­mit­ment to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, we will con­tinue to out­pace our ri­vals.

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