You’re never alone on an airplane

Loneliness heads the list of emotions people dread the most. An emotion to which we are prone when we sadly say goodbye to our loved ones at the entrance to the airport as we are setting out on a trip.

Here at TAV, a company that operates airports where journeys begin and end, we are no strangers to the sadness and loneliness experienced on our departures level every day, or to the joy and happiness of being reunited with loved ones on the arrivals level.
For those who have left their loved ones behind during a flight, the feeling of loneliness is often exacerbated by a fear of flying. The truth is however that you are never alone on an airplane, which is the safest mode of transportation in the world. Experienced pilots and cabin crew are always at your side. As an airport operator, we keep track of you and your luggage right up to your final destination, even if you have a connecting flight. And our Air Traffic Controllers, who are some of the most important people in aviation, monitor your progress second by second until you reach your point of arrival.

I made my first flight abroad in 1977 when I flew Turkish Airlines to London for my post-graduate education. Exactly 30 years ago… In those days, we witnessed a process in which the effects of the Cold War were quite palpable, globalization had not yet begun, and communications were tenuous.

I stayed in England for two years without returning to Turkey. Since air travel was not readily available, it was impossible to go to England in the morning and return in the evening as you can do today. In those days, when I was feeling deeply alone and homesick, my mother came to visit me. While I was eagerly awaiting her arrival at Heathrow Airport, I heard an announcement in Turkish saying that my mother's plane had landed. I was awed by the sound of that Turkish Airlines announcer woman's voice coming over the loudspeakers, and my eyes brimmed with tears. That voice announcing my mother's arrival still echoes in my ears today as vivid as if it were yesterday. Due to possible language problems, Turkish Airlines in those days made its own announcements in Turkish at Heathrow, giving out information about arrivals and departures for the convenience of the Turkish passengers.

Now it's 2007. Thirty years have passed since I first went to England. Exactly thirty years on it gives me great pleasure to be at the head of a company that through its investments has made Ataturk Airport, where I departed on my first trip abroad, one of the most modern airports in the world, as well as operating six more airports. Although I am a person familiar with aviation down to the smallest detail who flies two hundred days out of the year, my chest still constricts when I see the sun rise over the Himalayas on a flight to Asia; that same sense of yearning overtakes me again, and at that moment nothing can change the pull of that emotion.