Turkish Airlines - from strength to strength
2009-11-12 14:35:32 -

With more than 150 destinations worldwide, and named by Airline Business magazine as one of the top four financially confident airlines in today’s increasingly competitive climate, Turkish Airlines is showing every sign of going from strength to strength. It certainly brings a smile to the face of its Irish branch director, Cem Sahir Islam.

Islam grew up in the Turkish city of Sasakaya, close to the country’s largest city Istanbul. He moved there to study history at university, while at the same time working in PR for the municipal government. 
Following his studies, he worked as a consultant for an international marketing company before starting with Turkish Airlines six years ago.
After spending one year in Istanbul and a second in Budapest, Islam was sent to Ireland to set up the airline’s operations here.
“That was four years ago, and we began with two flights per week between Dublin and Istanbul. Gradually that increased to three flights, then five. Now, we have one every day,” he says.
Islam is keen to expand the airline’s business, a large segment of which comprises Irish holidaymakers who also own property in Turkey.
“It can be tough nowadays because of the economy but we have very positive expectations in Ireland. You can’t hide from market conditions,” he says. “But Turkish Airlines is going very well.”
As well as plans for up to 11 flights from Ireland to Turkey each week, Islam also hopes to start midnight flights as soon as April next year.
“Many of our customers are flying to Istanbul en route to another destination like Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine and central Asia. The midnight flights would make the transfer times much more convenient for our customers.”
He envisages this new service being ideal for those flying on to north and west Africa, the Balkans and eastern Europe.
According to Islam, Turkish Airlines prides itself on its extremely high standards of customer service and in-flight facilities.
“Our prices are all inclusive, and include a luggage allowance of 30kg,” he explains, “In addition there is no check-in charge – there are no hidden charges. 
“Our customers have called our in-flight service ‘legendary’. We serve a three-course meal plus desserts and a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks.”
With passengers delighted to be offered such refreshments, Islam believes that the airline offers a service that is very competitive. But that’s not all.
“For customers who are obliged to transfer in Istanbul,” he says, “we offer free overnight accommodation to those who are travelling economy and have a ten-hour transfer and also travellers in business class who have a six-hour transfer.”
Alternatively, if passengers prefer, they can avail of a free sightseeing tour of the city that includes breakfast and lunch.
Having built up the Dublin operation from scratch, Islam is proud to operate two offices in the city, which employ 11 people between them. He believes that his is a dynamic airline and attributes this to its smart business strategy.
“Our aircraft have capacity ranging from 124 to 312 and we use these planes depending on the route and the season,” he explains. “For example, in summer we use the larger aircraft as there is more traffic from Dublin to Istanbul.”
Turkish Airlines operates 12 routes to the Far East and Pacific, 13 African routes, 19 Middle Eastern routes, more than 10 in the Balkans, 13 in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and nine in central Asia and the Caucasus – all of which are connectible from Dublin with a single transfer.
“We are very happy in Ireland from a business point of view,” says Islam. “Irish passengers love the Turkish Airlines service.”


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