ALWAYS BETTER

Lebanon 2015 | TRANSPORT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Adil Hamade, Director for Lebanon at Turkish Airlines, on what has made the airline so successful in the Middle East and beyond.

Turkish Airlines has been named “Best Airline in Europe," “Best Airline in Southern Europe," “Best Business Class Onboard Catering," and was awarded “Best Business Class Lounge Dining" at the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards. To what do you attribute this success?

This relates to the strategy and philosophy that the company has embedded in itself for the past decade by expanding its network and increasing its frequencies worldwide. Furthermore, by establishing affiliate companies like catering company Turkish DOCO, the company has gained the reputation of having the best gourmet cuisine. Turkish Airlines tries on daily basis to provide better services to its customers and exceed customer expectations, which contributes notably to overall success.

Turkish Airlines is a European airline with the highest number of originating destinations in the Middle East. What factors differentiate your airline from the Middle East carriers?

Due to the geostrategic position of Istanbul, a city that is within reach of major cities in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa in just two to four hours. Turkish Airlines naturally gains a major advantage in respect to other carriers in the Middle East.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges you encounter in the Lebanese market?

While the exemption of the visa regime between Turkey and Lebanon has boosted the traffic between the two countries, regional instability has dented incoming traffic to Lebanon.

"Every year Turkish Airlines announces new destinations and ranks number one in terms of national destinations."

In 2014, the total number of passengers carried by Turkish Airlines rose 13.3% to 54.7 million passengers. What destinations have enjoyed the greatest popularity and how would you assess Beirut's performance?

Every year Turkish Airlines announces new destinations and ranks number one in terms of national destinations. For the past few years the Lebanese market has enjoyed services provided to Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, and Montreal with Turkish Airlines. With three daily flights, Turkish Airlines' Beirut office provides its passengers with minimum connection time and a wide network choice that has gained a solid reputation in the Lebanese market.

What strategies do you implement to remain competitive in the Lebanese market, and is Turkish Airlines undertaking any initiatives aimed at increasing the interest in Lebanon as a tourist destination?

Turkish Airlines conducts many advertisement campaigns in the Lebanese market to increase its brand awareness. Furthermore, Turkish Airlines organizes Fam Trips to various destinations in Turkey and abroad for its agents and corporate customers, in which they have the chance to explore new destinations for their customers. Unfortunately, due to the unstable situation in the region that is affecting Lebanon, incoming traffic has decreased. However, as the situation improves, Turkish Airlines will take the initiative in promoting Lebanon as a tourist destination.

Which new routes or regions is Turkish Airlines prioritizing as part of its expansion strategy?

Turkish Airlines is planning further growth in Africa in 2015 with at least six new destinations. We already have the largest network in Africa among foreign carriers, overtaking Air France and Emirates, having added a staggering 25 African destinations over the past three years. By the end of 2015, Turkish Airlines will have at least 45 destinations in its African network across 30 countries. North Africa continues to account for most of its African capacity but Turkish Airlines also has established a large presence in East, Central, and West Africa. Turkish Airlines is able to enter relatively thin underserved African markets by offering a myriad of connections to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Narrow-body aircraft have been the driver of the African expansion strategy as it has used 737-900ERs to open up destinations as far as seven hours from Istanbul.

How will the opening of Istanbul's third airport impact Turkish Airlines' operations?

Istanbul's new airport, due to its enormous capacity will enable Turkish Airlines to achieve better time schedules and connections. The new airport is expected to host more than 150 million passengers from which Turkish Airlines CEO Dr. Kotil expects to host 70 million passengers in its first year of operation on the start date of the project October 29, 2017. The New Airport will be the new gateway to the world, offering fresh horizons for our passengers.

What is your main focus for the year ahead as far as the Lebanese market is concerned?

For Lebanon's market we are seeking to enlarge all our flights with wider aircraft to provide extra capacity for our passengers and provide them with a unique service experience on our new wide-bodied aircrafts.