Exclusive Interview: Temel Kotil, Turkish Airlines CEO

Being one of the fastest growing airlines in the world is not enough for Temel Kotil. His goal is simply, to be the best.


Turkish Airlines has been on an aircraft spending spree of late, most recently placing an order for 95 Boeing aircraft, including 70 firm orders worth $6.9 billion at list prices. The order also incorporates an option to buy a further 25 aircraft from the US manufacturer between 2016-2021.

The committed orders comprise 40 B737 MAX 8s, 10 B737 MAX 9s and 20 B737-800 aircraft, with an option for an additional 25 B737 MAX 8s.

The announcement came less than a month after Turkish Airlines announced that it had placed an order for 117 Airbus narrow body aircraft, including 82 firm orders worth $9.3 billion at list prices. The order covers 25 A321, four A320 NEO, 53 A321 NEO and options for 35 additional A321 NEO to be delivered by 2015.

“I am glad to inform you that we have also already ordered 20 Boeing 777 and 20 Airbus A330,” the CEO reveals to Gulf Business.

However, the carrier is still mulling the use of wide-body next-generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, confirms Kotil.

“We are still conducting an evaluation study and we will be able to make our final decision on the order of that type of aircraft only after the study is concluded.

“But such an order will not be placed in the near future,” he adds.

Along with strengthening its technical aspects and growing its fleet, the CEO has also been investing substantial portions of time and money in promoting his company.

Turkish Airlines plans to spend up to $120 million on advertising this year to boost its presence across the world.

“We started our advertising spend with $5 million in 2005 and have increased the amount since then,” says Kotil.

It is obvious where the money has gone.

In December last year, the airline released an advert featuring two of the world’s most prominent (and among the most expensive) sport stars – football player Lionel Messi and NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant. The two sports stars vie for the attention of a young boy, who is finally drawn to the ice cream offered on the carrier.

The advert, which ends with the tagline ‘The Best Fly With Europe’s Best Airline’, went viral on YouTube and has played out extensively in TV stations worldwide.

“We focus on strengthening passenger satisfaction and our growth benefits from the unique geographic location of Istanbul,” explains Kotil.