Turkish Airlines has surely made an impressive journey during the past decade, going from a small and obscure airline with a questionable safety record to a world-class airline soon serving 300 destinations on nearly every continent of the earth. No matter if you like the airline or not it is hard not to admire what they have accomplished, especially at a time of fierce competition, not at least from low-cost carriers.
But who are the people behind Turkish Airlines? Can you name the CEO? Or the President? Or the Chairman? Would you even recognise the names if someone told them? Most likely not. So while Virgin Atlantic has Richard Branson, Qatar Airways Akbar Al-Baker and Emirates Tim Clark, who are all frequently in the media spotlight, there is really no such person at Turkish Airlines.
This year, for the first time, Turkish Airlines decided to participate at a larger scale at the ITB fair in Berlin, the world’s largest travel fair. And for the first time they decided to organise a press conference for the media, which has never been done in the past.
The press conference, which was held in the City Cube conference centre, next to Messe Berlin, drew massive interest from the media. The conference room was packed and every single seat was taken. There were even plenty of people standing at the back and at the sides.
The theme of the press conference was “Widen Your World”. Two regular exhibitors at the ITB, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways, both always organise press conferences for the media one of the days during the fair, and they are pros. Their press conferences always include a brief summery of what has happened during the past months and usually there are two or three releases of something new for the press to bring from the event. Like a few new routes, new aircrafts, a new concept or some service changes.
In contrast the Turkish Airlines press conference felt very spontaneous. There was really just one slide to show on the screen, there were no real news, nothing whatsoever prepared to be revealed to the audience. It was really just an introduction “This is Turkish Airlines” without even a slide show. However they did mention a few facts about the new airport currently being built in Istanbul.
Those who expected some breaking news to send to their editors were probably left disappointed. But those who came to the conference centre to get an idea about the people behind the airline were not. Rarely have so many Turkish Airlines top executives gathered for the media at the same time, at least outside Turkey.
The press conference was held by M. İlker Aycı, who is the chairman of Turkish Airlines. He is the one who is mostly in the media spotlight.
At the end of the presentation, and after a few questions from the audience, he invited the CEO of Turkish Airlines to the stage, Dr. Temel Kotil. Although the successful growth is likely the result of a good team work, Dr. Kotil is generally regarded as the man behind the impressive expansion of Turkish Airlines during the past years. His initial background is not in business but rather in aeronautical engineering. He also answered a few brief questions from the audience.
At the end of the press conference most other senior executives from Turkish Airlines present in the conference room were invited to the stage, including people from sales, marketing, products and services.
We never got much of a presentation who exactly they were, but it provided a terrific photo opportunity.
After the end of the press conference the audience were treated to some strong Turkish coffee and of course some Turkish delight. Surely a very memorable afternoon.