Turkish first dipped its toe into North American waters in the 1990s, first by operating charter flights to the continent. “This enabled us to observe the market before the start of our scheduled flights,” Anlatan said. “Therefore, we did not face any problems when we got into the North American markets,” he added.
Much of this success can also be attributed to geography. Like many of the carriers based in the Persian Gulf, Turkish is well positioned to serve as a connecting point between Asia, Europe and Africa via its Istanbul Airport hub. But Istanbul, on the far eastern edge of Europe, is actually closer to New York and Atlanta than it is to Shanghai or Hong Kong, so routes to the U.S. are a natural fit.
To increase its global reach, Turkish also interlines, or has a special prorate agreement (SPA) with about 75 different carriers. As a member of the Star Alliance, Turkish has these SPA agreements for destinations such as Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Auckland and several capital cities in Latin America and Africa.
There is also a strong economic incentive to focusing on the U.S. market, Anlatan said, namely the devaluation of the Euro against the U.S. dollar. “Our dynamic strategy is able to balance the economic fluctuations which have an effect on the cargo business,” he said. “Because our sales in Europe [are] a very high percentage in total sales revenue, in order to cope with this uneasy situation, we concentrated more on having a share in the air cargo market ex-U.S. Moreover, we decided to begin to set prices in U.S. dollars for our domestic market.”
In addition to the U.S., Turkish continues to focus on “niche African destinations, like Maputo, Kinshasa and Libreville,” Anlatan said.“The contribution of our growing network’s influence to the success of penetrating such niche markets cannot be ignored. As in previous years, we will continue to leave a fingerprint on such emerging markets for air cargo.” Turkish is also building up a presence in Dakar, Lahore, Addis Ababa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nor is the focus just on Africa. A good example of a developing market, he said, is Hanoi, where Turkish recently began weekly freighter service.