Turkey put 51% of its national carrier THY Turkish Airlines up for sale in mid- December to meet obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to Ugur Bayar, head of Turkey's privatisation board.

The sale was part of the deal for Turkey to secure a $10 billion IMF emergency aid package. The airline is more than 98% owned by Turkey's Privatisation Authority.

Analysts say the divestment may be complicated by THY's involvement with the military, to which it provides heavily discounted transport to military personnel in and out of an emergency rule zone that was once the scene of intense fighting with Kurdish separatists.

The airline posted unaudited figures for the first nine months of 2000 that show losses of $21.6 million, less than half the deficit in the same period in 1999. However, the figures do not take into account annual inflation, which is running at almost 40%.

Until now, THY has not been able to raise fares on unprofitable domestic routes. In light of the IMF aid agreement, management will look at reducing and possibly cancelling services to loss-making destinations.

Source: Airline Business