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It is inevitable for THK purchase an airline

It is inevitable for THK purchase an airline

» Interview | Monday, April 28, 2014 • Air News Times
Air News Times Chief Editor  Mevlüt ZOR has made an interview with Air Association (THK) Chairman and FAI  Vice President Osman YILDIRIM asking about developments in the endustry and Onur  Airways purchase.

Q: THK focuses on commercial activities in recent years. What are your ideas about that situation?

O.Y: Our vision is to promote amateur aviation operations, promote aviators (sucs as glider, parachute, hangglider etc.) and to offer aviation operations to the youths free of charge. However in order to be able to these aviation operations free of charge, we need to earn Money. Meaning that, these commercial activities are related to aviation which we have made in the past, in the present and in the future; we did not make any aviation activities except these. Our porpose is to offer more scholarship to our students in our university and to train more students in aviation. Right now we are providing trainings for more than 300 thousand students in the fields of model airplane, paragliding and hangglider etc. For example, in model aircraft training, we buy lime trees. We apply them laser cutting. After cutting, we make them into models and we wrapped up them. And after all of these processes, we deliver these models both to the courses which are provided by the ministry of education and to our training facilities. Buying, cutting and delivering these trees cost money. The amount we spend on aviation operations is 15 millions TLs per year and this amount is increasing over time.

We earn 13-14 million TLs from ‘’fitre’’, zakat and prey skins per year. So how are we supposed to continue these aviation activities? THK has 437 bases. These bases have expenses, there are people working there. How are we supposed to continue these activities without money? Then we would have to shut down THK. There should be an income in order for THK to make these happen and help Turkish youths to believe in aviation.

Q: Is there any increase in staff numbers?

O.Y: There has been no increase in the house. There was an increase in the companies and universities established. Recently we have started ambulance helicopter business with 17 helicopters. About 400 staff have started to work as pilots, technicians, doctors and nurses.

I do not have any relatives however everyone living and working in Turkey is my relative. I am a Turk. I was born here. Everybody from East, West, North and South is working with us. We have provided jobs for a lot of people. We provide - with the Money we give to them - food, happiness in their homes. We help them with their children’s educations. This is so honorable for us. We have commercial activity, however government benefits from this. In aviation, there is job for almost everyone with the condition of government making right investments. Business men dealing with aviation business do not lose Money according to my idea. Associations like us are not be able to establish companies actually however we have established a foundation on 10th of September in 2010. Under this foundation, we carry on our commercial activities.

Q: Are you planning to puchase an airline? If so, why and when?

O.Y: Because we have to think all of the THK’s operations as a whole. THK, operates amateur aviations, everybody who is in amateur aviation, would want to become a Professional in time. In addition, there is THK university. Here we educate pilots, technicians, flight attendances and engineers. We have to set a goal for them. For all of the THK facilities, there is a need for quality workforce.

THK trains people for these facilities right now. Again, we have to set a goal for them. THK needs an airline, more precisely an air transporter which offers both cargo and passenger freight. There is a lot of potential in Turkey and every year tourist number is going up. People from all around the world are coming to Turkey. They used to go to countries like France or Greece etc. Now the destination for them has changed, they have started to come to Turkey. Companies working in this industry should take advantage of this situation.

Actually, it does not have to be Onur Airways. We want to buy an airline. About Onur Air Purchase, the exact date is not defined yet. Because we are waiting for the other country’s decision. For us, if they agreed, we would like to purchase the airline today.

Q: Do you think it is the right time for THK to purchase an airline?

O.Y: Yes. Now is the right time, because Turkey tourism is developing every day and this is valid for both winter and summer tourism. My goal is to make THK an international training center. If somebody has a FAI license, they should come to us. Now people want things more than just sun and beach. They want exciting sports and one of these sports is aviation sports.

Q: Is THK be able to meet Turkish youths’ needs in aviation?

O.Y: It is not easy. Currently we are able to cover a part of it and because of that THK has to focus on its commercial activities. No matter how much we earn, this money will return to our people as education and service. We are not chasing profit. We want to make investments and pay our debts if we have any. I do not need extra profit.

Q: It is claimed that THK and related companies have serious loans. Do you think that THK is ready for an airline purchase and can handle this situation?

O.Y: Noone can ever know our money situation. We have already analyzed all of the expenses. We are interested in Onur Airways for 1,5 years, this is not a new event. The press shows this as if we have only started to show interest recently. We know Onur Air’s financial situation. Because we had a confidentiality agreement with Onur Air, it was not appropriate to expose this to the public. This would put both of us in a bad condition.

It is not possible not to have a airline company by THK. It does not have to be Onur Airways. We have already established an airline. Onur Air is one of the companies we would like to purchase but if the conditions are not right, it is not that essential. No one would like to lose money after purchasing company. THK has loans, this is not a secret. However all of these loans are taken for projects. THK has purchased a fire fighting aircraft and has an agreement with ministry of foresty. THK has purchased helicopters and has an agreement with ministry of health. .

In 5 years, our incomes from rented buildings have raised around %100 and it will raise even more. For example, we have a business center, we restore it and later we can get great incomes from there. We used to get 10-20 thousand TLs from some places, now they make us get 250-300 thousand TLs. THK is managing the assets quite efficiently.

I have recruited the people I trust. I work with people I trust. They know that I would not betray them, because of that, they continue to work with me. They are really valuable, they have been trained well. They have foreign language knowledge, they have experience.

In addition, Turkey is in a strategic position in a geographic way because we are close both to Europe and Arabic countries. Due to this condition, Turkey is one of the countries using airlines least. Istanbul is one of the most important bases in the world.

If Turkey can use its potential, it will become one of the leading countries in the world in the next five years. The most important factor is transportation here. Turkey has made a move in transportation industry in recent years. That’s why we are entering this industry as THK.

Q: How will you complete Onur Air purchase? Will you get a loan from Turkey institutions or will you use foreign resources?

O.Y: We are still negotiating with Onur Air. I can not give any information about when this is going to happen or how much money we are going to pay. It would be wrong to give out such information.

I would like to point out that not only banks in Turkey, but also foreign banks are interested in giving us credit loans. We are getting offers from Sweden, America, England and Gulf Countries etc. Do you know why? We are an institution with a bright future ahead. We know THK’s resources and opportunities and we are using them in an efficient way.

Currently we are evaluating the options. We will take the credit loan from whichever is the best option. We have infrastructure, in Turkey, no one has this privilege.

Q: Will there be any regional aircraft you planning to manufacture?

O.Y: There is a huge advantage in purchasing an airline which is already established and well-known. After purchasing it, we are planning to serve regional aviation. Maybe in the beginning, we will purchase the aircrafts from abroad. In the next years, we may manufacture regional aircrafts for 20-30 people and with them, we are planning to outgrow in a fast and efficient way.

Q: What will be your strategy with your domestic and international flights? Are you planning to open new bases and become a member of an airline alliance?

O.Y: Yes, we are working on it, we have really great plans for the future. There are three leader airline alliances in the world and we can add Low Cost Airlines Alliances to this number including Star Alliance, SkyTeam, Oneworld. We are planning to become a member of an alliance which has an expanded network.

Q: Do you own the infrastructure and staff needed for an airline purchase? After purchasing, will there be a change in staff structure?

O.Y: Our infrastructure operations always depend on growth and it is a must. So, THK starts a job with infrastructure operations and in a planned way, due to this, the risks are minimized. For example, THK has earn great capabilities. Today, Airbus aircraft and Eurocopter helicopters are being renewed Isparta facility. And soon, Boeing planes will be also renewed in this facility.

Isparta has become a regional maintain facility. Aircrafts will be brought here from not only Turkey but also from abroad. There will be paintings, test flights etc. We will establish an aviation school in Isparta. Aircraft figures have been risen both in Turkey and Europe however, maintaining facilities have stayed the same. Because there is a need for qualified employee and facilities. We own our helicopters and there is no way we can make these helicopters maintain by another company. We tried this, it did not work out. We need to have precautions otherwise we lose money.

Q: What kind of an partnership will be carried out between THK and Onur Air? Have you performed a research before the purchase?

O.Y: Currently THK has 8 companies including the association. There are some memorandums among these companies. Hopefully, Onur Air will also become one of these THK companies and will make a memorandum agreement.

It is not easy to audit an airline company. As we are in aviation business, we know the expenses and incomes, risks etc. We have researched how much Onur Air spends in a year, when it does aircraft maintaining, when will be next maintaining, incomes, annual fuel consumption etc., surely.

We think that 23 aircraft is not enough. The figure must be doubled in a few years. Meanwhile, we have a cargo freight company. We will stop using some of the aircrafts in passenger routes and deploy these aircrafts in cargo. This is how it works around the world. We will make agreements with international major cargo companies. Our vision is inclusive.

Q: What does THK management, related companies and staff think about the purchase?


O.Y: My milestone is 17th of September in 2009. I was born in that date in THK, they believed in me and chose me as the president. I have a management which supports me. There are THK branch managers who support me. We believe in each other. I never take decisions on my own. When we want to make a decision, we gather, we analyse and talk about all the risks. If that decision coincides with our vision, then we take action.thk staff knows our vision, our goals very well and they always support us.

Q: What are your thoughts about 3rd Airport? Do you have any plans?

O.Y: 3rd Airport is really important for Turkey. When it opens, Turkey will become an important transit base. With good planning and organizations, we can make tourists stay here more. Right now, there is a need for good organizations, because of tht the 3rd airport is a great resource. We are planning to fly to everywhere in Turkey.

Q: You have claimed that you will manufacture local aircrafts. What will be your production date? What will be your standards and do you have qualified employee?


O.Y: In the beginning, we are planning to buy some small aircrafts, however 2017 and 2018 will be our production date. I believe in industry, economy and business man in Turkey. In order to manufacture an aircraft, we need moulds. We will open our factory soon and after that our aircraft manufacture will start. We have completed our research and found out that there are only 6 companies which can mold in Turkey. These companies also make moulds for other aircraft manufacturers.

We have also found out that these companies make molds for Airbus, Toyota etc. We have received our 145 moulds out of 160 and delivered them to another company in Ankara. They are still manufacturing our aircraft’s sections. We have a great staff in this aircraft factory and we hold meetings every other week.

There is no law or anything in Turkey about aircraft manufacturing. I came up with the idea that we should prepare a circular according to the standards of EASA and we should follow the EASA standards. We have prepared circulars in parallel with EASA. After that, we offered these to SHGM and they showed interest. They have started to support us. Everything is going on according to rules.

We know how aviation works, and we work accordingly. I have hired all of the experienced engineers in our factory. We are working with them and I believe in them. We can achieve everything thanks to them and I have no second thoughts.

Q: You are really successful as THK General Manager and you have completed many important projects. How would you describe your management?

O.Y: You need to have a good education and great experience in order to become a successful manager. My education has never been over.

I have been a general manager since 1982, meanin 30 years. I think that I really made the best of these 30 years. An efficient leader should be able to manage team play among his employees. You should be a reachable person. My door is always open within the company. Everybody talks to me, tells me what they think and I never get upset or mad. Also, I focus on 3 months, 6 months and 1 year programs of my employees. They should have a program. I review our budget in a long term. Having a foresight is really important. Because of that we have already planned THK’s 25th year.

Q: What kind of social responsibilities have you done? In addition, environmental issues are really an important issue, what do you think about this?


O.Y: A lot of effort is being showed among the world in terms of pollution, climate change, drought and preserve green areas. In airlines, noise is really important. We will focus on reducing the noise pollution in the next aircrafts we are going to buy. We are following the world. FAI, EASA, SHGM, EUROCONTROL and other organizations are really sensitive towards environmental pollution and noise pollution.

We are focusing on noise pollution mostly. In order to reduce this, engines should work more quietly such as Boeing 737 – 300 etc. For example, in Europe after 23:00, no planes are allowed to land on an airport. This is really an important factor. Secondly, we are lucky that not a lot of factories are established in Black Sea and south and thanks to that, seas are really clean. Turkey has to preserve this condition.

We are supporting all of the works done in Turkey in terms of preserving green areas. We have to preserve nature. Another problem in the world is lack of trees and drought. When we have entered the fire fighting aircraft business, we see how the fires damage our world and how we need to take precautions immediately. Because of that, we accelerated fire fighting aircraft business. We have also added the capability of fighting with fires at nights to our aircrafts. We are still working on it so that we can use our aircrafts during the night. In addition, we have ambulance helicopters which can work during the night, also thanks to the government. I am proud of what we are doing.

Q: According to your idea, what is going to happen in industry in coming years, especially in the next 10 years? What are your plans?


O.Y: The most challenge aviation industry faces is that there is a need for qualified employee. Boeing says that it needs 400.000 pilots, 1.200.000 technicians, 1.000.000 cabin attendant by 2029. 5-10% of these employees are trained in Turkey and that is why we have established the university.

Currently, this university does not have much capacity. We would like to own 5 aviation and space universities in 10 years. The first one is in Izmir, second one will be established in Istanbul and another one in Silivri this year. In then years, Aviation and Space Universities are going to develop gradually. Also, there will be faculties in Black Sea region and Adana and Antalya in south. In time, we are planning to establish another universities in Elazig and Erzincan.

In order to establish a university somewhere, we need space. After these, we will establish a maintain facility. We already have aircrafts. For these maintain facilities, we need quailified employees and we train them in our universities. We are planning to increase the number of aviation universities.

We are carrying out some maintain operations in our maintain facilities in Izmir, Ankara, Isparta and Corlu. We will build 3 sheds. There will be also an important cargo base here. One will be left for training aircraft maintain, one will be left for Airbus and Boeing aircraft maintain and the last one will be left for helicopter maintain. This place will be regional maintaining center.

There will a maintaining facility wherever there is a university. We have infrastructure, everything is ready. Because of all this, we are planning to purchase Onur Air.

Q: Lastly, do you have anything to share with the readers?


O.Y: Aviation operations are going great in Turkey. Aviation is one of the key factors for living in better conditions.

If aviation is developing in a country, that country’s economy gets also better. We are entering aviation industry because we want to make aviation popular in Turkey, we want to encourage Turkish youths to enter this industry. With these works, we want to represent Turkey in both Turkey and in the world as best as we can.

We will develop THK with our universities, companies, avation operations etc and make Turkish people proud with our organizations. If they want to be happy, they should follow as via Air News Times.

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