|Turkish will focus on adding frequencies over new routes in EX-YU|
Turkish Airlines has ruled out the possibility of introducing new routes in the former Yugoslavia, but will focus on adding extra frequencies on existing services instead. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Turkish Airlines’ Media Relations Officer, Serhan Yucel, said the airline has good coverage in the region, “Currently there are no plans to add new routes, but maybe in the future. Furthermore, increasing frequencies to points in the former Yugoslavia is being evaluated. The former Yugoslav market is important for Turkish Airlines, making a contribution to the airline’s global network”. Turkish Airlines has been rapidly expanding its operations across the former Yugoslavia in recent years. It currently operates two daily flights to Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje and Zagreb, ten weekly services to Ljubljana and Podgorica and up to eighteen weekly flights to Sarajevo.
In the spring of 2014, Turkish Airlines planned to add Dubrovnik to its route network with three weekly flights, however, despite guarantees from the Mayor of Dubrovnik and the Turkish Foreign Minister, the service did not materialise. “Turkish Airlines always gives crucial importance to the former Yugoslav market, considering its contribution to our global network. The mentioned routes have great potential and feed Turkish’s European points, as well as points in the United States” Mr Yucel said. Over the past year, Turkish Airlines has become the carrier of choice for many in the former Yugoslavia. In 2014, Turkish was the second busiest carrier flying out of Skopje and the third busiest in Pristina. So far in 2015, the Turkish carrier has positioned itself as the second busiest airline operating out of Ljubljana and the fourth busiest in Belgrade, despite a 12% decline in the number of operated flights.
Discussing potential takeovers in the region, Mr Yucel neither confirmed nor denied Turkish’s interest in other carriers at a time when Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines and Montenegro Airlines are all up for privatisation. “Major decisions such as joint ventures or acquisitions require a board decision and we also inform the Stock Exchange to inform our shareholders”. However, Mehmet Baspinar, Turkish Airlines’ Vice President for Marketing and Sales in Eastern Europe and the Balkans says strict European Union laws and regulations, which are enforced across the region, forbid the Turkish carrier from becoming a majority shareholder. As a result, it cannot effectively enforce its strategy, as was the case at B&H Airlines.