Turkish Airlines sees strong African growth opportunities

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Development of services into Africa is playing an important part in fuelling the growth of Turkish Airlines and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future according to its president and chief executive Temel Kotil.

"Africa is helping us grow very fast," he says, adding that Turkey's proximity to the continent means "going to so many cities in Africa is easy for us because we are using narrowbody aircraft, so it's not costly".

Speaking at the recent Airline Business, Alliance, Joint Ventures and Partnerships conference in Istanbul he said that many of his airlines 16 destinations in Africa are "very young, light routes" which the airline serves daily or less and have room for further development. Kotil says Turkish is looking to increase frequency to these destinations meaning operational "costs will get cheaper and cheaper".

He says much of the Star Alliance's carrier's African traffic are transfer passengers using Istanbul to connect from Africa to Asia and Europe, in particular China, Russia and the UK.

"The Chinese have a lot of investment in Africa," says Kotil, adding that his airline supports traffic from China, Russia and the UK to Africa. He says that Turkish currently has three destinations in China and is looking to add more. "The transfer ratio for the African market could be 80%, perhaps 50% in the worst case," he says.