Last week, anna.aero travelled to the German shores of Lake Constance to witness at first hand Turkish Airlines’ insatiable appetite for network growth as the carrier launched its 223rd worldwide destination – Friedrichshafen
(FDH). Where? Yes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this re-born airport would not be the most obvious choice for the world’s hungriest full-service carrier to look for new feed for its mega-hub (30+ new routes planned in 2013). However, FDH, which previously pioneered Zeppelin flights, before the business was captured by a new airport in Frankfurt in the 1920s, does claim all the arguments for why it should be considered, including the ability to serve a cross-border catchment covering parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and little Lichtenstein – and, far more crucially, the 600,000 Turkish-origin people living in industrious Baden-Württemberg.
For the event, Friedrichshafen Bodensee Airport welcomed Turkish Airlines’ arrival with a whole day of celebrations, which could not be resisted even by the airline’s President and CEO, Dr Temel Kotil, who flew in from Dortmund where he was signing a three-year sponsorship agreement with Germany’s Bundesliga football club, Borussia Dortmund (slayers of Real Madrid) – yet another sign of Turkish Airlines’ strong interest in Germany (where estimates of the total Turkish population range from 4 million upwards).
Turkish Airlines’ SVP Sales and Marketing, Ziya Taşkent, thinks Friedrichshafen has great prospects: “Today, everybody calls Friedrichshafen ‘FDH’, because they can’t pronounce the full name, but as we grow the market, they will have to learn, and quickly so.” In fact, enough Turkish people live in Baden-Württemberg for there to be a Turkish Consul General in Stuttgart – his name is Mustafa Türker Ari and he also turned up for the launch: “Baden-Württemberg has long-desired more direct routes to Istanbul, that’s why Friedrichshafen was chosen as Turkish Airlines’ 12th destination – ahead of some much bigger German cities such as Dresden.”
Turkish Airlines’ hunches seem to have paid off, as the inaugural flight was upgraded to A321 from the initially-scheduled A319, with Friedrichshafen Airport’s CEO, Gerold Tumulka, confirming: “The first month’s bookings on the new route have exceeded expectations, reaching an average LF of 70% and, with continued community support, we hope to see the service go daily sometime later this year.” In fact Dr Kotil also seemed to hint at yet another capacity upgrade on the newly launched route: “We believe that the best network contribution of our destinations can only be achieved with twice-daily frequencies; daily flights are the obvious intermediate stage.”
Fly me to Cuba! (via IST)
With 15 new routes due to be launched by the end of June, and many more awaiting the final go-ahead, Turkish Airlines is one of the world’s fastest growing carriers. The next European destinations include Spain’s Santiago de Compostela and Austria’s Salzburg, while anna.aero can confirm that Turkish Airlines will also land in Havana before the year-end.