Turkish Airlines bouncing back to growth - Economist

Turkish Airlines is the only “super-connector” airline to emerge largely unscathed from recent geopolitical turmoil, the Economist said in its latest weekly edition.

While Gulf carriers remain in the doldrums, Turkish Airlines is gaining altitude again just a year after it was grounding aircraft and closing routes amid growing unrest at home and violence in Syria, the magazine said.

The company earned an astonishing 2.4 billion lira ($693m) in the third quarter of 2017, surpassing its annual takings in all but one of the past ten years. At the end of last year, passenger numbers had almost regained their double-digit growth, climbing 9.3 percent, meaning the company had too few planes to meet demand, the Economist said.

Bilal Ekşi, the company’s CEO, put the improvement down to a mixture of smart network planning -- shifting capacity from weaker to stronger market -- and camaraderie among the workforce, which included unions accepting lower pay settlements, it said.

“The amount (saved) is not big, but the motivation and the emotion is amazing,” he said. “All around the world, unions are requesting more. Our employees stand behind their airline.”

The region’s other big carriers -- Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways – had also stood to benefit from improved regional security.

“Yet they haven’t enjoyed the same rebound: Etihad shrunk last year for the first time in its history; Qatar Airways said it would lose money in 2017; and Emirates, the strongest of them all, is talking up the need for consolidation,” the Economist reported.

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