Turkish 'happy alone' after Lufthansa codeshare row

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An earlier version of this article included incorrect passenger-volume and revenue figures in the fourth paragraph. These have been amended.

Turkish Airlines has reiterated its commitment to being a Star Alliance carrier, despite its dispute with fellow member Lufthansa.

In November, the German operator and its wholly owned subsidiary Austrian Airlines called off their codeshare agreements with Turkish, after Lufthansa decided that the rapidly expanding Eurasian carrier had become too strong a competitor. In addition to ending their codeshare agreement in March, Lufthansa will also reduce bonus-mile credits for passengers travelling on the Istanbul-based airline.

At Star’s board meeting in Vienna on 13 December, Turkish chief executive Temel Kotil dismissed questions on how the argument might affect the airline’s business. Given the carrier’s fast traffic and network expansion – in 2012, passenger volume grew nearly 20% to around 39 million travellers, while revenues increased almost 19% to $8.3 billion year-on-year – Kotil says that Lufthansa’s move will have little effect on Turkish’s business.

"We are happy alone," he says, adding that Star membership is just the "icing on the top" of its own growth potential.

However, he rejects the idea that Turkish might be attracted to other airline alliances. There is no intention to switch partnership to OneWorld and SkyTeam, and Turkish will remain a Star member for years to come, says Kotil.

Meanwhile, Star chief executive Mark Schwab says that the dispute is a bilateral matter between Turkish and Lufthansa with no direct bearing on their mutual membership in the airline grouping. Turkish gives Star partners "valuable access" to its home country’s "very large and important" market.

This is particularly the case through Turkish’s intercontinental flights and its narrowbody services to northern Africa, says Schwab. But he adds that while the individual route networks of member airlines "generally" complement each other, this did not preclude competition between partners.