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Turkey’s tourism rises 30 percent on yearly basis

Monitoring Desk

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s tourism rose 30 percent on the yearly basis and the country could gain $32 billion foreign currency inflows by the end of the year, according to Turkey’s top tourism association.

“If nothing serious or negative happens, we expect 40 million tourists by the end of 2018,” Firuz Baglikaya, head of Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), told Anadolu Agency’s Finance Desk.

Baglikaya also said they have targeted eliminating half of the country’s current account deficit in the coming year. “We have a contribution target for the tourism to reduce the current account deficit by around 50 percent in the coming year,” he said.

Noting that the tourism is among the most contributing sectors in lowering the current account deficit, Baglikaya added that the sector contributed $21 billion for reduction of the current account deficit last year.

He said the association has welcomed the 100-day action plan of the government, especially the parts pertaining to China. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in August unveiled first 100-day action plan of Turkey’s new presidential cabinet in the capital Ankara.

The president said over 1,000 projects will be completed within 100 days but announced most important are 400 in the program.

Mentioning that China declared 2018 the Year of Turkish Tourism, Baglikaya said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey jumped 97 percent in the first seven months of this year, compared to the same period in 2017. Highlighting the importance of Chinese market, Baglikaya said China sends the highest number of tourists abroad.

“We will use our efforts to increase the number of Chinese tourists to 2 million in the coming years,” he said.

He also added that they plan to end the year with 500,000 Chinese tourists visiting Turkey. AA


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Ryanair pilots go on strike in 5 countries

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair’s pilots went on strike Friday in five countries to enforce improvements in pay and working conditions.

The strike, which started at 03.01 am on Friday, will end at 02.59 am on Saturday, in Germany, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Cancellations of flights due to the strike are expected to affect over 55,000 passengers. Among the five countries, the strike will hit Germany the worst with 42,000 passengers. Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the association of airline pilots and flight engineers in Germany, on Wednesday called on all pilots the company to support the strike.

VC’s Chairman Martin Locher said, “Improvements are inconceivable without an increase in personnel cockpit costs. During negotiations, Ryanair categorically ruled out any such increases.”

“At the same time, Ryanair has not shown any interest to find solutions. It is only Ryanair, which is responsible for the escalation which has now taken place,” Locher said.

In Ireland, Irish Airlines Pilots’ Association, which represents 25 percent of all Irish pilots, joined the strike.

The airline announced that it canceled 250 flights in Germany, 104 in Belgium, 42 in Ireland and the Netherlands.

Pilots have ‘excellent’ working conditions

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, said Wednesday that the company regretted the “unnecessary” decision to strike.

He claimed that the pilots working for Ryanair have “excellent working conditions” and paid higher salaries than in most of the other companies.

“Ryanair pilots earn at least 30 percent more than Eurowings and 20 percent more than Norwegian pilots,” he said. He also said the union did not inform Ryanair about the strike in advance despite an earlier request was made to VC.

“We asked VC to provide us with at least 7 days’ notice of any planned strike action so that we could notify our customers of cancelled flights in advance and offer them alternative flights or refunds, but they have refused to do this and instead call an unnecessary strike in Germany in just two days’ time,” he said.

20,000 flights are canceled

The airline was already in trouble even before the pilots’ strike as its cabin crew had walked out of job end of July in Italy, Portugal, Spain and in Belgium, causing some 600 flight cancellations in these countries with over 100,000 affected passengers.

In December, VC called all pilots directly employed by Ryanair for a 4-hour strike.

VC said its negotiations for Ryanair pilots in Germany broke down without any result. The pilot union said the strike would affect all Ryanair flights planned for German airports. The company has canceled 2,000 flights in September 2017, costing the company some €25 million (nearly $30 million).

The Ireland-based airline also announced 18,000 more cancellations in October 2017, and these cancellations affected travel plans of around 400,000 passengers.

Ryanair blamed the cancellations on pilot holiday rosters but the British news media claimed pilot shortage caused the cancellations.

Ryanair carried 120 million passengers last year, up 13 percent on a yearly basis, and its profit after tax reached €1.3 billion.

The low-cost airline flights to 86 destinations in 37 countries in Europe.


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Over 43m passengers chose Turkish Airlines in Jan-July

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Turkish Airlines carried 43.2 million passengers from January to July this year, the airline announced Thursday.

According to a statement, the total number of passengers carried by the Turkey’s national flag carrier saw a 15.2-percent hike on a yearly basis, up from 37.5 million passengers in the the same period in 2017.

“Increase in the number of passengers carried in domestic and international lines are 17.0 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively,” Turkish Airlines said.

In the seven-month period, the airline’s passenger load factor — seat occupancy — increased by 3.8 percentage points to 81.2 percent.

“Number of landings (passenger aircraft) of 262,964 for the period of January-July 2017 increased by 8.9 percent to 286,360 in 2018,” the company said. “Cargo/mail carried during the period of January-July 2018 increased by 26.3 percent to 779,626 tons from 617,458 tons in 2017.”

In July alone, Turkish Airlines recorded an 85.3-percent seat occupancy rate. The airline carried 7.5 million passengers last month, a 3.8-percent yearly hike.

“Increase in passengers carried in Africa, Europe and Middle East are 10.0 percent, 9.5 percent and 8.0 percent respectively,” the airline said.

Turkish Airlines earned some 24.4 billion Turkish liras ($5.9 billion) of total revenue in the first half of this year while the company had nearly 25,000 staff, including more than 4,500 pilots.

Last year, the airline carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate.

Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, flies to more than 300 destinations in 121 countries. By the end of July 2018, the airline had 325 aircraft, 92 of them wide-body along with 215 narrow-body aircraft and 18 cargo planes.

According to the airline’s end-year targets, the company expects to carry 75 million passengers — including 33 million on domestic routes, 42 million on international routes — with around an 81-percent passenger load factor.

A total of 50.88 percent of the airline’s stocks are publicly traded on Turkey’s stock exchange Borsa Istanbul while the rest are owned by the Turkiye Wealth Fund.

Turkish Airlines has a nearly 24 billion Turkish lira ($4.54 billion) market value, based on stock exchange market figures, as of market close on Wednesday, Aug. 8.


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Turkish Airlines to take Bosnian pilgrims to Hajj

Monitoring Desk

BELGRADE: Turkish Airlines (THY), Turkey’s flag-carrier air company, has become the designated airlines to take Bosnian Muslims to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, the airlines said Wednesday.

A first of group of 215 Bosnian pilgrims will set off for Medina on Thursday with nearly 1,500 more Bosnian pilgrims to follow in the days to come.

THY is stepping in to replace the Nevada-based Vision Airlines after an agreement between the U.S. charter company and Bosnia’s pilgrimage organization broke down, leading to the cancellation of the flight of the first batch of pilgrims Wednesday. AA

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Turkey: Domestic tourism expenditure up nearly 25 per cent

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Turkey’s domestic tourism expenditure rose 24.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, according to the country’s statistical authority on Monday.

TurkStat reported that domestic tourists’ expenditures — including individual and package tour expenditures — from January to March totaled 6.3 billion Turkish liras ($1.65 billion), compared to spending of some 5 billion Turkish liras ($1.36 billion) in the same period last year.

“In this quarter, while 94.2 percent of domestic tourism expenditure was individual with 5.94 billion Turkish liras, 5.8 percent of it was package tour expenditures with 364.6 million Turkish liras,” the institute said.

According to Turkey’s Central Bank, the average US dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate was 3.82 in the first quarter of this year, while one dollar traded for 3.70 liras on average in the same period last year. “In this quarter, domestic visitors made 112.8 million overnights,” TurkStat said, noting that the average number of overnights was 7.3 and the average expenditure per trip was 407 Turkish liras.

According to the official data, nearly 11.9 million residents took internal trips in the first quarter while the number of journeys with one or more than one overnights amounted to some 15.5 million with an annual hike of 22.3%.

Purpose of trips

TurkStat noted that the primary purpose of domestic trips was visiting relatives, accounting for a 68.7-percent share in the first three months of this year. “The secondary purpose of trip was travel, leisure, holiday with 15.9 percent and the third was health with 8.7 percent,” the institute said.

Trips for meeting/conference/courses/seminars and journeys for commercial relations/attending fairs were the other major travel purposes over the same period.

“In this quarter, according to number of overnights by type of accommodation, domestic visitors stayed mostly at ‘house of friend and relative’ with 92.2 million overnights,” TurkStat said, adding:

“While ‘hotel’ took second place with 8.25 million overnights, ‘own house’ took third place with 6.98 million overnights.” Official figures showed that Turkish residents spent most for health tourism with an average per trip expenditure of 641 Turkish liras ($168), followed by culture tourism and travel / leisure/holiday trips.

The institute also noted that transportation expenditures, clothing/giftware spending, and eating/drinking consumption were the top three items under individual expenditures in the January-March period.

According to TurkStat, the number of residents in Turkey was 80.8 million as of December, 31, 2017.

Last year, the country’s domestic tourism expenditure amounted to 35.3 billion Turkish liras (around $9.7 billion), as 77.2 million trips with one or more than one overnights were recorded.

The statistical authority will release its next report on this subject on Nov., 7. AA

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Emirates celebrates 15 years of connecting Auckland to the World

Monitoring Desk

AUCKLAND: Emirates is celebrating 15 years of successful operations to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.  Since its inaugural flight in 2003, Emirates has carried over two million passengers to and from Auckland, connecting New Zealand to the world, with 21 flights a week to Dubai, Bali and beyond.

Emirates began its services to Auckland with daily flights via Sydney and Melbourne and, later, Brisbane. In 2009, the award-winning airline introduced its iconic A380 aircraft to the route, providing a revolutionary double-decker aircraft to transport passengers between Auckland, Sydney and Emirates’ cosmopolitan hub, Dubai. The operations were further enhanced few years later with the A380 operating all Auckland flights via Melbourne and Brisbane. Today, Emirates operates a daily A380 non-stop flight from Auckland to Dubai as well as a new daily B777-300 ER service via Bali, Indonesia.

With the launch of the new Dubai-Auckland-Bali route in June, Emirates became the only airline offering daily, year-round flights to Bali, providing New Zealanders with greater choice and flexibility when booking their island holiday.  Emirates also serves New Zealand with a daily A380 flight between Christchurch and Dubai via Sydney.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 15 years of flying into Auckland which has become an important part of Emirates’ success story in the region. We would like to thank all our customers and industry partners in New Zealand for their long-standing support over the years. We are proud to contribute to the city’s thriving tourism and trade industry, connecting Auckland to more than 160 destinations across six continents with only one stop in Dubai,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer

Emirates SkyCargo has uplifted over 85,000 tonnes of cargo to and from Auckland in the last three years, carrying goods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, pharmaceuticals and equipment. The freight division remains a major airfreight operator in New Zealand offering more than 55 tonnes of belly-hold capacity each day. In 2017, Emirates Skycargo successfully transported ‘New Zealand Aotearoa’ – Emirates Team New Zealand’s race boat – from Auckland to Bermuda in advance of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup sailing competition.

Emirates has recently won two top awards in New Zealand at the annual Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards. The airline has taken the title of ‘international Airline of the Year’ as well as the ‘Best of the Best’ for 2017, coming out on top of all other 21 category winners with the highest customer satisfaction of any company operating in New Zealand.

Passengers on all Emirates flights can enjoy Wi-Fi to stay in touch with family and friends or Emirates’ multi award-winning ‘ice’ with up to 3,500 channels of movies, TV programmes, music and podcasts. Emirates provides its customers with a host of culinary offerings prepared by gourmet chefs and fine wines that suit the tastes of everyone. Passengers can also experience Emirates’ renowned in-flight service from the airline’s multi-national cabin crew from over 130 countries, including New Zealand.

Emirates’ popular loyalty programme, Emirates Skywards, brings its Kiwi members value, choice and flexibility. The award-winning loyalty programme offers four tiers of membership – Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum – with each membership tier providing exclusive privileges. Emirates Skywards members earn Skywards Miles when they fly on Emirates or partner airlines, or when they use the programme’s designated hotels, car rentals, financial, leisure and lifestyle partners. Skywards Miles can be redeemed for an extensive range of rewards, including tickets on Emirates and other Emirates Skywards partner airlines, flight upgrades, hotel accommodation, excursions and exclusive shopping.

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Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen to be D-8’s designated airport

Monitoring Desk

ISTANBUL: Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) will be one of the designated airports of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation.

A letter of intent was signed between ISG, which is located at the Asian side of the city, and D-8, also known as “Developing-8”, to enhance cooperation among the member countries.

The deal was inked by Azmi Murat, the ISG executive director, and D-8 Secretary General Ambassador Dato Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari.

“The letter of intent specifies our desire to cooperate and to found partnership between Sabiha Gokcen International Airport and the D-8,” Shaari said. “Sabiha Gokcen International Airport will not only be the designated airport of the D-8 but also it will provide Fast Track Lane to the citizens of D-8.”

The deal also aims to “provide a better connection between people to people, between business to business, between tourists and travelers,” he added.

As part of the letter of intent, ISG will also provide lounge services for all travelers from D-8 member states.

“We can show how members states of D-8 to facilitate the needs of the citizens of the D-8 in order to develop economic cooperation, economic development, economic growth, and at the same time, uplifting the standard of living of all citizens of member states,” Shaari noted.

“We look forward to having closer relationships with the D-8 airlines particularly,” he added.

For his part, ISG’s Azmi Murat also expressed his gratitude over the signing a letter of intent with D-8.

Stating that Sabiha Gokcen has been the first designated airport of the D-8 he said: “We look forward to working closely with all the eight member countries.”

“We are very ready to work [with] special facilities of the D-8 member countries,” Murat added.

ISG will also assign spaces on billboards for D-8’s marketing activities and will create air links among the member countries’ airports.

Turkey holds the rotating chairmanship of the D-8 for the next two years, and for the second time in 20 years.

On June 15, 1997, the D-8 was launched after late Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan proposed the creation of an economic group consisting of eight emerging economies from the Muslim world. Alongside Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Pakistan founded the organization based in Istanbul. Today, two of its members — Turkey and Indonesia — are among the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies. AA


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Turkey’s tourism income increases in second quarter

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Turkey’s total tourism income increased by 30.1 percent, year-on-year, reaching $7.04 billion in the second quarter of 2018, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)’s report on Tuesday.

“While 84.7 percent of this income [excluding GSM roaming and marina service expenditures] was obtained from foreign visitors, 15.3 percent was obtained from citizens resident abroad,” TurkStat said in a statement.

Turkey welcomed more than 11 million tourists in the second quarter of this year, an increase of 24.9 percent from the same quarter in 2017.

The report showed 89 percent of visitors were foreigners with 9.85 million persons, 11 percent of them were Turkish citizens resident abroad with 1.21 million persons, TurkStat said.

According to TurkStat, the number of Turkish citizens traveling abroad in the second quarter fell by 4.4 percent over the same period and reached almost 2.2 million.

The number of foreigners visiting Turkey rose by 28.5 percent, year-on-year, in June, reaching 5.1 million persons, the Culture and Tourism Ministry revealed Tuesday. Russians made up almost 22 percent of foreign visitors, followed by Germans at around 10 percent, and British citizens at nearly 7 percent.

Number of foreigners visiting Turkey during January to June period climbed by 28.92 percent, compared to the same period last year, the data showed.

The total number of Turkish citizens resident abroad visiting the country also went up by 21.64 percent during first six month, year-on-year.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey expected 40 million tourists by end of 2018.

“We expect $32 billion tourism revenue, and we are proceeding quickly towards this target,” Erdogan added.

Mehmet Ersoy, minister of culture and tourism, also said nearly 16 million foreigners visited Turkey in the first six-month period of the current year. While Turkey hosted 36.8 million foreigners in 2014 and 36.3 million in 2015, the figure decreased sharply to 25.3 million in 2016 but rose again to 32.4 million last year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Turkey targets 50 million tourists and $50 billion in income by 2023, according to private sector representatives and officials.

The next quarterly data of TurkStat on tourism statistics is due on Oct. 31.

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Passengers’ shares disturbing picture of bed bug bites from Air India Business Class

Monitoring Desk

NEW DELHI: Air India temporarily grounded flights between Newark and Mumbai this week after passengers complained of bed bug bites.

Business class passengers aboard an Air India flight from Newark to Mumbai said on Twitter that their seats were infested with bed bugs and that they had “bites all over their body” after the flight.

“We alerted the crew who sprayed a repellent,” passenger Kashmira Tonsekar told The Hindustan Times. “After a while, more bugs started coming out from that and other seats.”

Passengers who complained of the bug bites were moved back to the main cabin, but they had already been bitten.

“Air India is deeply concerned with a few reports of ‘bugs’ causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers,” a statement from the airline said. “The issue has been viewed seriously and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance.”

The airline offered a partial refund to passengers affected by the bed bugs.

“Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery/seat covers/carpets etc to ensure that passengers keep enjoying their in-flight experience with us as always without any complaint of inconvenience,” Air India told NBC News.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told that there have been no other reports of bed bugs in the terminal or other areas of Newark International Airport.

Air India is India’s national airline. It has not turned a profit since 2007 and is currently up for sale. The new owner would take on $5 billion in debt. No prospective buyers have stepped forward so far.




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Air traffic controllers’ strikes break EU laws

LONDON (BBC News): Four European airlines are claiming France is breaking EU law because strikes by its air traffic controllers are restricting freedom of movement.

Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizz Air and IAG, the owner of BA and Iberia, are submitting their complaint to the EU Commission.

French air traffic controllers have staged a series of strikes this year over the government’s economic reforms. IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said: “The right to strike needs to be balanced against freedom of movement.”

“Passengers on routes that overfly France, especially the large airspace that covers Marseille and the Mediterranean, are also subject to delays and massive disruptions,”

The airlines argue France is breaking EU law by not allowing flights over the country during strikes, meaning passengers flying between member states not affected by the action are being denied their freedom to travel.

IAG said that the strikes also raised fuel costs because of the need to take longer routes to bypass French airspace. Easyjet said its costs for the full year would rise about 3% due to the disruption, which has so far been greater than during the whole of 2017.

Earlier this month, Ryanair said 1,100 flights were cancelled in May due to the strikes, although its own staff shortages in the UK, Germany and France had also contributed to cancellations.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We call on Europe’s governments and the EU Commission to take urgent and decisive action to ensure that ATC providers are fully staffed and that overflights are not affected when national strikes take place.”