The cargo business of the flag carrier has helped Turkish Airlines weather the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, İlker Aycı, its chairman and CEO, has said.
“We learned from the past crises. When I took helm of the company in 2015, my initial plans included the expansion of the cargo business. During the 2016 crisis, I came to the understanding that a bigger crisis management plan was needed,” Aycı told private broadcaster CNNTürk in an interview on Jan. 17.
A strong cargo business can compensate for the large part of the losses the parent airline company incurred, he said.
“We made changes. We used passenger planes to deliver cargo. We removed the seats on some planes while we kept the seats in others and used them for cargo operations.”
He noted that Turkish Airlines is one of the top five carriers in the world and the leader in Europe.
Aycı recalled that the losses of the global airline industry amounted to $360 billion in 2020, and in the second year of the pandemic those losses stood at between $80 billion and $90 billion. “But THY managed to post profit in three quarters.”
The company’s financials show that in the first nine months of 2021, Turkish Airlines’ revenues were $7.4 billion while revenues from the cargo operations soared 125 percent compared with the same period of 2019 to $2.7 billion. The carrier’s nine-month net income was $734 million.
In a filing with Borsa Istanbul earlier this month, Turkish Airlines disclosed that it delivered 1.9 million tons of cargo and mail in the whole of 2021,up 22 percent from 2019.
In December 2021 alone, the carrier delivered 151,400 tons of cargo and mail up from 138,500 tons in 2019.
Last year, Turkish Airlines served a total of 44.8 million passengers. It carried some 25 million international travelers while the domestic passenger tally was 20.1 million people.