Civil Aviation at the end of 2006

In today’s world, the culture of transportation, which is shaping up in parallel with technological developments, impacts heavily on the macro economic and social structure of countries, further raising their levels of prosperity. The air transport system is also one of the key modes of transportation utilizing high technology.

In a systematic approach, Turkey’s Transport Minister, Binali Yıldırım, in 2003 undertook studies aimed at developing plan strategies by preparing the groundwork for a transport master plan and implementing a study as problematic and time-consuming as it is strategic as required by the country’s interests. Regional Aviation Transport, which was launched with the slogan, “Every Turkish citizen is going to fly at least once in his life”, has become perhaps the key political decision of 21st-century Turkey.  Since 2003, which was a turning point in Turkish Regional Civil Aviation policy, Turkey’s Civil Aviation sector has embarked on a rapid growth trend, and the sectoral growth rate, which is 5% in the world at large, rose in a record development to 30% in Turkey. The competitive climate created by this growth was reflected in the services offered by enterprises operating in the sector, in the new opportunities made available to passengers, in air travel becoming more attractive and ceasing to be a luxury, and in a rapid approach towards the goal of every Turkish citizen flying at least once in his life.
Within the framework of national and international regulations, the Transport Ministry lent its support to all enterprises that do not compromise flight safety and aviation security and that embrace the concept of quality service as their basic philosophy, and it continues to lend that support today. The price of fuel for flight schools, for example, was discounted to overcome the shortage of flight personnel, which stood in the way of development in the aviation sector; at the same time the bureaucracy has been slimmed down, and the number of flights abroad stepped up through bilateral agreements signed with the civil aviation authorities of other countries. The Civil Aviation General Directorate (SHGM) was strengthened and, as the sole authority in the field, given financial autonomy. The General Directorate, which is extremely sensitive to the issue of inspections, in the first ten months of 2006 carried out 195, almost six times as many as in previous years, and Turkey took its place among the first ten of the 42 member countries of the international institution known as the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). As a result of all these efforts, the number of companies operating in the sector had risen by 53% to twenty as of the end of October 2006. Parallel with this, the number of large-bodied planes used in passenger transport had risen from 152 in 2002 to 259 by the end of October. As for developments in the number of flight destinations, while there was only Turkish Airlines making scheduled domestic flights to 25 destinations from two airports in 2003, today a total of 38 destinations are served from seven airports by five different airlines. Similarly, while flights were made to 78 destinations abroad in 2003, today this number has increased to 103. Meanwhile, comparing 2002 with the end of 2005, the number of passengers carried has risen by 136% on the domestic routes and by 40% on the international.
Furthermore, in an arrangement still on the drafting board, it is planned in future to utilize airports in other provinces, principally Ankara, Antalya and Izmir, in addition to Istanbul, which is currently the sole international center, as departure points for flights abroad. Rather significant progress was also made in cargo transport between 2002 and 2005 with growth of 74% on domestic and 33% on international routes to a total combined capacity of 1,041,623 tons in September 2006. Yet another important point is the incorporation of previously idle airports into the national economy. Efforts are under way to permanently open all of Turkey’s total 62 airports, 21 of which are currently open to international and 16 to domestic traffic, 14 of which are military airbases, and the remaining 11 of which either belong to the Turkish Aviation Agency, the Special Provincial Administrations, the universities and the flights schools or are used for other purposes. As a result of the developments summarized above, the total growth in air traffic envisaged for Turkey by 2015 by such international institutions as EUROCONTROL and IATA was already attained in 2005. To conclude: at the point Turkish Civil Aviation has attained today, the Civil Aviation General Directorate, which places importance on regional cooperation and is motivated by a vision and concept of safe, secure, environmentally aware and sustainable service, is pursuing its efforts, at world standards, to follow the Civil Aviation Agenda of the 21st century in both the national and international arenas through the arrangements it has made and regulations it has introduced and in an approach that does not compromise flight safety or security.

* Deputy Director of Civil Aviation