Turkish Airlines – The atypical Middle Eastern airline brand. CEO Dr Temel Kotil outlines global dreams in interview

Last week, I was in Sydney at the Aviation Outlook Summit and on the first day of the conference, I sent out this Tweet:

Shashank Nigam Twitter

Right in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, Turkish Airlines had this flagrant display of teenagers in red, visible not just to all the conference attendees but also to those passing by the hotel (see pic below). And they had totally stolen the thunder from Malaysia Airlines, which had paid thousands of dollars for being the official sponsor of the conference.

Turkish Airlines had announced its presence, and in quite some style. After spending some time with Dr Temel Kotil, the airlines’ humble CEO, I feel other competitors should be vary of the rising star from Turkey.

Turkish Airlines marketing campaign

Why’s Turkish the atypical Middle Eastern airline?

Dr Kotil mentions a number of points in the video interview below which prove that Turkish Airlines in not yet another Middle Eastern airline with global ambitions. Rather, it’s doing things differently, connecting with customers differently and is not just going after explosive growth. Here’s why I believe they pack a punch.

  • Turkish Airlines was one of the Top 4 most profitable airlines in the world in 2008 (according to AviationWeek TPC)
  • The current cash reserves of $1.5 billion are certainly adequate for surviving the recession and measured growth
  • It leverages its membership of the Star Alliance when entering new markets – something most other carriers in Middle East lack
  • Turkish hires locals when it enters new markets – key to reaching out to the local customers and cater to local tastes
  • Turkish is working hard on delivering a consistently great product, with special focus on the in-flight cuisine – certainly a brand differentiator

In Dr Kotil’s words, “Potential is high, and ambition is big for Turkish Airlines…and quality doesn’t need a passport.” Hope you enjoy his interview in which he talks about what makes Turkish hard to ignore.

Isn‘t it a good feeling to hear some positivity in these gloomy times in the industry? What do you think about Turkish Airlines’ prospects viz-a-viz other Middle Eastern carriers? Let’s discuss in the comments or over on Twitter (@simpliflying)

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
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Showing 5 comments
  • rajibborah
    Reply

    I rate Turkish Airlines amongst my worst experiences – Ever.
    Only Air Astana was blatantly more terrible.

    My luggage was delivered* 6 days late, and the bag was completely damaged. (delivered is a wrong verb to use as I had to personally travel 60 kilometers to collect it from the airport)

    And while this incident happened 9 months ago, I am yet to receive compensation for the same because of some stupid red-tapism at their end or the other (cannot do a direct account deposit/ require approval from Istanbul/ etc).

    (They are compensating me for 4 days of delay against the 6 days of actual delay, and 100 Euros for a jumbo sized Samsonite bag)

    And in between I had to make 30 phone calls (apparently customer support in India cannot make international calls) and 3 trips to TA offices in Delhi, London and Amsterdam – wow. I wonder why I am even putting so much effort for a pittance of a compensation. I might as well sue them in a consumer rights court for the damage, delay, harassment and mockery of the entire episode.

  • teddaily
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