SunExpress carried 10 million passengers in 9 months

Max Kownatzki, General Manager of SunExpress, a joint company of Turkish Airlines (THY) and Lufthansa, said, “Our occupancy rate on flights is 88%. We see ourselves as the tourism ambassador of Turkiye. We have carried 10 million passengers since the beginning of the year.”

SunExpress General Manager Kownatzki and Deputy General Manager Tuncay Eminoglu gave information about the airline’s 2023 performance and winter season plans at the press conference held at the company’s headquarters in Antalya.

Kownatzki explained that he took part in 4 flights yesterday as a cabin crew member and said that it was a great experience.

Stating that he saw that the customers were hosted with the SunExpress spirit and experience, Kownatzki said, “By experiencing this experience, I understood better why we received the best holiday airline award. There were some people who recognized me on the flight, and some who did not.”

Kownatzki emphasized that this year they broke a record by carrying 57 thousand passengers in a single day and gave the following information:

“We have 66 aircraft. We have an order for 42 aircraft from Boeing. We have received 9 of them, 33 more aircraft will arrive. Our negotiations to purchase aircraft for the fleet continue. This summer, we added 26 routes and 5 new destinations. After the summer period, we are likely to grow as a destination in the winter period. Our flight occupancy rate is 88%. We see ourselves as Turkiye’s tourism ambassador. We have carried 10 million passengers since the beginning of the year. In line with the continuing demand in the winter season, we are extending the summer season with more than 2 thousand additional flights between September and December.”

Stating that they foresee that they will exceed the target of 12 million passengers by the end of the year, Kownatzki stated that they will continue to contribute to Turkiye’s target of 60 million tourists for this year.

“We added 15 new routes”

Stating that they are expanding their flight network day by day, Kownatzki said that they increased their winter capacity this year and added 15 new routes to their flight network in order to spread tourism throughout the year.

Kownatzki stated that they will connect new and beautiful destinations such as Skopje, Abu Dhabi, Sharm El-Sheikh, Sofia, Krakow and TRNC with Antalya and Izmir this winter.

Kownatzki stated that they took additional actions to balance the seasonal impact in order to sustainably manage fleet growth in the future, and emphasized that they signed a “damp lease” agreement with South African Airways as part of this.

Kownatzki noted that within the scope of the agreement, two Boeing 737-800 type SunExpress aircraft will serve on South African Airways’ flights based in Johannesburg.

“We will employ more than 160 pilots and 400 cabin crew”

Kownatzki emphasized that they will continue to contribute to Turkish aviation with their more than 30 years of experience in the sector and said:

“As a company deemed worthy of the ‘Great Place To Work’ certificate by its employees, we continue to create employment. We have been running the Multi-Crew Pilot License Program since 2018 to train the Turkish pilots of the future. We provide job guarantee to graduates of this program. In this context, 117 pilots graduated. 160 people are expected to graduate within 5 years. Currently, 60 people are receiving training within the scope of the program. We have more than 3,500 employees from 35 different nationalities. We will employ more than 160 pilots and 400 cabin crew for the 2024 summer season.”

Answering the questions of journalists after his speech, Kownatzki said, “The reason why we are not in Russia as SunExpress is very simple, we did not provide service to Russia in the past. We first made an experimental flight to Moscow. You work with tour operators in Russia. When you leave Russia, sales have to happen from there. This does not cover the costs. We had already stopped flights there before this crisis broke out. This is not about the Russia-Ukraine war.”

Pointing out that no closure or travel restrictions are foreseen due to the new variant of the coronavirus, Eris, Kownatzki stated that the lethal effect of the new variant is low.

When asked about going to the stock market, Kownatzki said, “This is a matter outside our scope of duty. We have been in this market for 33 years with the partnership of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. The decision on public offering and stock market is made by the two airline companies.”

“Increasing costs are a big problem for us”

On a question about increasing costs in the aviation industry, Kownatzki said:

“Increasing costs in the sector are really a big problem for us. There is an incredibly rising market that worries me, but there is an increase in prices in every item. We cannot explain this with any inflation figures. Bookings for 2024 have already exceeded the number of bookings for 2023. However, costs should not be increased just because demand is increasing. We absorb most price increases. “We don’t pass this on to the customer.”

Source: AA / Prepared by Irem Yildiz

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