On official visit in Mauritius last week, the vice president of Turkish Airlines, Askin Cantimur, met several local representatives of travel agencies and other stakeholders of the airline industry during a networking cocktail at the seat of the company in Port Louis. According to him, there are many opportunities that can be exploited in the country.
What is the purpose of your visit to Mauritius?
As the vice president of Turkish Airlines and also in charge of sales in Sub Saharan Africa, I regularly do office visits to get market feedback from our partners and look into ways in which we can improve our product and brand visibility within the region.
Two years after Turkish Airlines started its activities in Mauritius, what are your observations so far?
We are delighted by how Mauritius has been performing. We almost had to double our capacity following a huge demand for both inbound and outbound traffic. That was mainly due to the fact that we managed to introduce Mauritius to new markets in Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, etc. Turkish Airlines has been present in some of these markets for decades and they all welcomed our Mauritius flights, which have been operating on a big scale.
Is Mauritius a good business partner?
We are grateful to Mauritian authorities for their support since the beginning of our operations. They have facilitated our entry into the market and enabled the opening up of new markets for Mauritius. Without their presence, we could not have been where we are today.
We managed to introduce Mauritius to new markets in Eastern Europe like Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, etc…
What can Turkish Airlines do to promote Mauritius as a destination for Turkish tourists?
We have already organized a big road show in Istanbul in which we invited all the main hotels and DMCs from Mauritius. We have been carrying out joint marketing activities with various partners in Mauritius to make interesting deals for Turks who want to discover this beautiful island. We are also working on a large-scale press trip with the participation of prominent Turkish journalists to Mauritius for broad media coverage of the destination.
What can you say about Turkish tourist arrival to Mauritius in 2017?
We are quite pleased with the number of Turkish tourists who have come to Mauritius and we know that there is still room for growth. The winter in Turkey coincides with summer in Mauritius, which makes it even more attractive for Turks who are craving for some sunshine. So, they come all the way down south to the Indian Ocean.
Inversely, does the company intend to increase the number of Mauritians going to Turkey as tourists?
Of course, we do. We are not only targeting tourists though; Istanbul is a huge industrial center and many Mauritians have already been to Istanbul for business purposes. We are aiming to launch an event in Mauritius, where we will invite business people from Turkey, from different industries (textile, FMCG, service sector, etc.) It will be an opportunity that can help more Mauritians to develop an interest and to discover the potential in Turkey.
Do you think that there are other opportunities that the Airline can exploit in Mauritius?
There are endless opportunities for anyone in Mauritius. We do not like to see Mauritius as a mere beach destination. The country is so beautiful and has so much more to offer with its diverse culture, amazing mixed cuisine, historical sites and thriving business life.
Otherwise, in the region, can Mauritius be used as a hub to other nearby countries?
I guess this question would be better answered by Mauritian authorities themselves. By I have keenly observed that Mauritius is strategically located in the Indian Ocean with remarkable proximity to not only continental Africa, but also to other islands in the Indian Ocean. On top of that, the infrastructure in Mauritius and the country’s vision for tourism is impressive. I see no reason why Mauritius should not position itself as a regional hub.
Does Turkish Airlines intend to extend its activities in the African region?
Turkish Airlines already has wide network coverage in Africa and flies to 51 destinations in 31 countries and plans to launch its flights to Freetown in Sierra Leone in the near future. The company’s strategy and approach, when extending its network within Africa, have always been carried out with the motto “Turkish Airlines is the carrier that loves Africa the most.” Yes. We love Africa and we are fully committed to contributing to the growth of the continent.
Worldwide, how are things going for Turkish Airlines?
2017 has been an amazing year so far. We announced a net operating profit of 956 M USD as per the end of October, which is a record in Turkish Airlines’ history. By the end of 2018, we will have a new airport in Istanbul with a passenger capacity of 90 M at its initial phase, 150 M once all the phases are complete. The future looks bright not only for Turkish Airlines, but also for Turkey and Turkish Aviation as well.
Turkish Airlines operates in more countries than any other airline company. How far is this strategy successful?
Flying to more countries than any other airline, Turkish Airlines operates worldwide through 300 destinations. The company’s hub, Istanbul Ataturk Airport is four hours from the farthest point in Europe and we are able to fly to 70 capitals in the world on narrow body aircraft due to our geographic position. I believe geography and to-the-point strategic decisions are key to TK’s global success.
How does Turkish Airlines compete with rival companies across the globe?
Recognized as one of the leading players in the global airline industry, Turkish Airlines continues to consolidate its position through its significant investments, prestigious awards, impressive growth figures, large-scale aircraft orders and a continuously expanding route network.