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Temel Kotil (PhD), 52, who has been President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Turkish Airlines for the last eight years,
announced the airline was boldly going where others were afraid to go.
“When we were in Mogadishu we visited the President and the Prime Minister as well as the Turkish Embassy and we began serious discussions about starting service there, now we have decided to begin flying there by next month,” he said.
It may surprise some that the airline chose war torn Mogadishu to be its 17th African destination but the CEO says the move is realistic.
“I have visited Mogadishu and it’s actually a nice place, the security is under control there and we are confident people are working to address any safety issues as quickly as possible,” Temel Kotil, the Turkish Airlines President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said at the Sheraton Addis on Tuesday, December 13.
“The media makes it look like Mogadishu is extremely dangerous but in reality people are living there, moving around, shopping in the market places during the day time,” he said.
Even though he says the airport needs renovation he sees it as a minor issue that is being addressed.
“I saw flights coming from the ocean to land at the airport and it appeared to be a safe situation,” he added.
Temel says that they will be providing a service from Somalia’s need.
“This is not a political decision. This is business. There is a high demand from people from Somalia living overseas. They want to visit their country. We already are making several charter flight arrangements for people from Somalia to travel to Mogadishu. The charter is from Istanbul, but we get people from the United States and Europe who come and go to Somalia regularly. The residents of Somalia also want to fly abroad to visit their relatives and friends.
“Look we have the belief that the passengers are our bosses. In 2010 we had 29 million bosses. In the year 2011 the number of our bosses increased to over 35 million. Now we have additional bosses in Somalia,” he said.
He says he is proud to be offering two way service in a place other carriers may consider unsafe.
He was also impressed with his first visit to Addis Ababa.
He told Capital he found the mountains to be beautiful and the land fertile for agriculture. “Ethiopia has a very bright future; there are so many Turkish companies in Ethiopia and a good number of Turkish people. After I saw the landscape of the country I understood why they are here. Hopefully this will continue. I want to develop a closer relationship with Addis Ababa,” he said.
He wants the airline to double its daily flights to the Ethiopian capital.
“We have a daily flight from Addis to Istanbul; we want to make it twice daily.”
This will mean more connection with the 164 international destinations Turkish airlines serves, throughout the globe.
The airlines is also planning to add more cities in Africa; including the Libyan town of Misurata and the Nigerian commercial hub of Lagos. By 2012 the CEO hopes to have 22 African destinations and eventually move that number to 40.
He was attending a ceremony held on Tuesday at the Sheraton Addis commemorating Ethiopian Airlines becoming a full member of Star Alliance and he says he is very enthusiastic about their relationship. He called their interaction, “high quality.”
Established in 1933 by their government, Turkish is the sixth most profitable airline in the world. In 2009 they earned around 370 million dollars. Turkish Airlines has today150 aircrafts as opposed to 50, only seven years ago. In the next five years they plan to add 100 more, including the new Boeing 737-900. Last year it is estimated that Turkish Airlines carried 250 million people to 160 destinations. The airline employs 15,000 people.