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Another dream of mine comes true

Uğur CEBECİ

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When I first started writing about aviation, I also started dreaming. I dreamed about Turkey having an airline company that complied with world standards, about Turkey producing an aircraft that fit into an unprecedented category in the aviation market, about the cities of Turkey being connected to each other with propeller planes and about seeing amphibians fly over our coasts.

Turkish Airlines, or THY, became a world-renowned brand, but we still could not produce our own airplanes. My Turboprop plane dream came true when ATR72 was launched in the market. Today, BoraJet successfully flies to many destinations from Gazipaşa to Siirt, and Nevşehir to Zonguldak.

Amphibians were first launched in the Turkish market in the 1920s. An Italian company, Aero Espresso, used to fly from Istanbul’s Büyükdere port to Greece’s Pireaus port and then to Brindisi in Italy. But there were no amphibians on our seas for the following 60 years.

I have the picture of the Renton Airport in Seattle, U.S., before my eyes, where the Boeing 737 production line is hosted. Hundreds of amphibians … One takes off as the other lands, no fuss about flight plans. Anyone can fly wherever they want to, as long as they do not violate naval aviation rules.

Now a young entrepreneur, Kürşad Arusan, who grew up in the U.S. in aviation circles, is going to connect our coasts with each other.

Arusan, who has been a manager in many airline companies in the U.S., recently founded Seabird. The company is now waiting for permits from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of Turkey.

Naval aviation calls for considerable experience and good organization skills, therefore, the company is collaborating with American Keen Borek Airlines which owns the biggest Twin Otter flotilla with 42 airplanes. Pilot and maintenance services will be provided by this company.

Twin Otters produced by Canadian de Havilland have a capacity of 19 seats and can easily land at a wave height of 1.5 meters, and also can fly at night in bad weather conditions.

The company’s Istanbul headquarters will be at Kalamış Marina and Haliç (Golden Horn) and the flights will take off from these locations. The firm is also planning to open another headquarters building in İstinye.

It will take an hour and twenty minutes to fly from Istanbul to the Çeşme-Alaçatı district of the western province of İzmir, and will take an hour and a half to the Bodrum district in the southern province of Muğla. The one-way tickets will start from 225 Turkish Liras and gradually rise to 500 liras. The passengers will be able to buy tickets from Seabird’s website, www.flyseabird.com.

The airplane cabin, which has enough room for the passengers to stand up, was designed to have a 16-seat-capacity in order not to compromise comfort. On board, passengers will be offered small treat packages and a beach bag.

Twin Otters, which were recently put back into production, can land and take off on 300 meters on sea, and 750 meters on land. The floats that are used for naval landing can easily be removed one day and be replaced by wheels.

Seabird plans to connect skiing centers to Istanbul during winter by putting sledges under wheels. The new flight destinations during winter will be Uludağ (in the western province of Bursa) and Kartaltepe (in the northern province of Kocaeli). The company will also offer air-taxi services.

Already receiving considerable demand, the airline plans to acquire a three-airplane flotilla by the end of this summer. When the winter operations are settled the target is a 10-airplane flotilla in two years.

Arusan is 38 years old and has been an aviator for 14 years. He went to the United States in 1987 with a football scholarship and studied business administration at Harris-Stowe in St. Louis. He started his career in the sector in 1996 as a baggage loading employee at TWA Airlines. He then worked at the counter, and then as a security coordinator.

He attended the opening of the Miami line of THY in 1999. He first became the general manager of AirTran and Delta, and between 2006 and 2009 of USA3000 Airlines which had a 14-airplane flotilla.

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