TK on a mission to woo THAI

TK on a mission to woo THAI Turkish Airlines president and CEO, Temel Kotil, says code-sharing with Thai Airways International is an important step that the airline must take if it is to develop Bangkok as its Southeast Asian hub. He was reiterating statements made, earlier this year, during a visit to Bangkok, when he said that negotiating a code-share deal with its Star Alliance partners, particularly THAI, was a top priority. In an interview, 6 November, held at his office in Istanbul he told reporters, cooperation with THAI was part of his long-term plan, which also includes adding 22 long-haul aircraft to its existing long-haul fleet in less than two years. B777-300-turkish-airlinesMost of the 22 new wide-body aircraft will be used for services to Asia. However, he declined to give more details of where the airline would fly, until board approval has been secured. "Yes, a key factor is working with THAI. Bangkok will be a major hub, but if we are to put more flights into Bangkok then we will need support from THAI to code-share on services in Asia to feed our trunk route to Istanbul. We are working on it and we hope to establish a working relationship with THAI very soon." Star Alliance members need to negotiate individual agreements with each other, but the alliance views code share mechanisms as a priority to sell connectivity, particularly to business travellers. The airline intends to increase frequency to Bangkok from its present twice daily services to as many as four flights daily, but that would be based on having a code-share agreement with THAI. "We would be happy if THAI flew its own service to Istanbul, as that would help us achieve the same goal as Bangkok to become an important aviation hub to connect Asia, parts of the Middle East to Europe," he said. At present, TK sells round trip fares from Bangkok from Bt24,000 to Bt50,000 in economy and Bt88,935 to Bt103,000 for business class. Branding itself "European", TK hopes to become the airline with the most extensive cover of European cities. "We want to fly to all European cities. It is very ambitious and could take us 20 years or even 50 years, but that is fine. This is a long-term strategy," said Mr Kotil. The airline has steadily shifted to a long-haul policy by adding more destinations to balance an already strong European and domestic network. It forecasts 26.77 million passengers, this year, with 13.93 of them on international flights. That will include 12.83 on domestic flights and around 2.01 million international transit passengers connecting to other TK services at its Istanbul hub. It hopes to serve as many as 40 million passengers by 2012.