At the crossroads of continents

I was recently in Europe to present Boeing’s 20-year forecast to a very diverse range of media - the newswire services in Paris, business journalists in Frankfurt and a large group of Turkish media in Istanbul.

The thing that surprised me most during this trip was not the questions I got about the forecast or about our predictions as to how or when the credit crunch will end. No, the most unusual takeaway for me was the stark difference in load factors on the six flights I hopped on during this trip.

Namely, in my entire week of travel throughout Europe, only one flight I took was completely full. It was a Turkish Airlines 737-800 from Frankfurt to Istanbul. For me, this reinforced in my mind the potential growth of the Turkish market. Turkey is a strong market now, we’ll see more growth in the future, and clearly this is a market crying out for more capacity.

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A full flight on Turkish Airlines and a big growth opportunity for commercial aviation in this market.

Turkey has traditionally been a key gateway between Europe and Asia, and its central location is going to continue to serve this market well in the years to come. Istanbul, with a population of some 11 million people, is a unique metropolitan area. There, you can actually walk between the European and Asia continents. I think it’s the only city in the world where that’s true.

There’s a lot of tourist traffic, but Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport can also handle a large portion of the international transit traffic among North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Turkey is committed to growth in air travel with an understanding of the benefits that it will bring both economically and socially. Their economic growth is predicted to continue at 2-and-a-half times that of their European neighbors.

Istanbul’s airport also has another advantage over other European hubs. Its location between key destinations allows for 24-hour operation - perfect for long haul transit. With plans to expand the current airport infrastructure and talk of potentially closer ties with Europe, Turkey could be poised to become one of the largest growth markets for aviation in the region.

Comments (4)

Chris C (South Africa):

Turkish Airlines is set to order a few Airbus A350XWBs, according to some reports highlighting "sources close to the matters", with the A350-1000 featuring in their fleet renewal/growth plans as well. That should address their needs for additional capacity.

It would be stupendous if Boeing could secure an order for a few super-efficient 787 Dreamliners from the growing Turkish airline, but I think they only would be interested in 787-10x.

Just out of Curiosity:

Do you purposely attempt to book as many of your flights on Boeing metal as possible, or does it not matter?

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The answer is yes, my preference is to fly on Boeing airplanes, but clearly it's not always possible.

I also like to choose my seat in advance. Have you ever had the opportunity to use seatguru.com?

-- Randy Tinseth

martin nix (everett):

I use to work Sales and Marketing back in 1980, now on the engineering/mechanic/electrical side. My impression of aircraft sales is THE important thing is not SPEED, but safety, on-time, cleanliness, comfort, everything else.

One thing we as a company need to learn is we need to integrate better with GROUND TRANSPORTATION. Getting people to and from airports is just as important as getting people (and cargo) between airports. Integrating rail, trucks and buses is just as important. My favorite idea...BUS EXPRESS..just like an airplane, except it flys betweens airports. Run it on alternative fuel. That way if an airport gets snowed-in (etc) people can still get between airports when airtravel is grounded. What a concept, express buses/trucks being another airline.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Turkey has one of the strongest growth markets in Europe and its region on Asia. Even though in the nineties there were a lot of short lived airlines in Turkey, the airlines in the country outside of Turkish Airlines are doing well today. The best potential for orders are from including Turkish include Sun Express, Sky Airlines, and Saga Airlines as they all operate 737s and have a good size fleet and a strong potential for growth and the potential to order larger aircraft like the 777 and 787 is a possibility.

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