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  • Turkish Civil Aviation is experiencing a golden age...

    The state of Turkish Civil Aviation, from Dr. Ali Arıduru, Director of Civil Aviation

    The projects carried out as part of the Regional Aviation Policy launched in 2003 by Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım with the aim that ‘Every Turkish citizen will board a plane at least once in his lifetime’ have spurred a rapid development of civil aviation in Turkey that has astonished the world.

    In 2002 all scheduled domestic flights in Turkey were made by Turkish Airlines to 25 points from two centers. Following the opening up of civil aviation to private companies, five airlines are operating in the country today, from seven centers with flights to a total of 45 destinations.
    The number of passengers carried on the domestic routes has climbed from 6,729,000 to 33,546,000, and last year a total of 74,367,000 passengers were carried on the combined domestic and international routes.

    Air traffic on the domestic routes, which was 532,053 in 2002, rose to a record-breaking 1,009,064 in 2008. On the domestic routes alone there has been a 143% increase in airplane traffic from 156,000 in 2002 to 385,000 today.

    Similarly, the number of companies operating in the civil aviation field, which was only thirteen in 2002, has risen today to seventeen, three of them in the area of cargo transport. With the addition of 132 aircraft, our own fleet of large-bodied Turkish flagship planes has risen from 150 to 282.

    At five percent in the world, aviation sector growth in Turkey has reached a record 53.3%. Viewed in terms of its contribution to the economy, the turnover of companies operating in the aviation sector in 2002 was approximately 2.2 billion U.S. dollars; today it is over 7 billion.

    To ensure that all these developments in the sector can be effectively sustained, efforts have been made to raise the standards and improve the infrastructure of existing airports rather than building new ones.

    During this period eight of our airports have been opened for service in the way just described. At the same time, however, the Build-Operate-Turnover model has also been adopted for non-budget financing of airport terminal buildings, and six terminal buildings, all equipped with latest technology at international standards, have been built to a cost of over one billion U.S. dollars in a gain for the national and world economy without putting a burden on the budget.

    In this framework, a second international terminal has been added at Antalya Airport, domestic and foreign terminals have been built at Erzurum, Gaziantep and Ankara Esenboğa Airports, and international terminal buildings have been built at Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport in the recent period. In addition, construction of a new International Terminal is currently under way at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport (on the city’s Asian side), which has an annual capacity of 10 million, and is slated to open for service on 29 October 2009.

    Developments in Turkish civil aviation are not only taking the form of an increase in number of passengers, they are also manifesting themselves in successes in many other areas such as airports and ground services and guarantees of airport security and flight safety.

    Several projects are currently under way to promote the rapid development of the civil aviation sector: the Project to Open Up Idle Airports for Service, the Cross Flight Project, Ataturk Airport Cargo Base Project, Ataturk Airport Expansion and Cargo Facilities Project, the Economic Airport Project, the ‘A Heliport for Every Township’ Project, the ‘A Heliport for Every Skyscraper’ Project, the Ambulance Helicopters Project, the Project to Spread the Operation of Air Taxis, the Share-cab Aircraft Project, the Ground Services Development Project, the Green Airport Project, the ‘Uncontrolled Airport’ Project, and the Project to Turn Turkey into an Aircraft Maintenance and Training Center.

    Ninth in Europe in 2006 with a 400% increase in its SAFA/SANA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) inspections, Turkey had the highest growth in inspections among the countries of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). Once in the lowest rankings among member countries of the 44-member ECAC, Turkey is one of the top five today. It was also among the top five countries in Europe in 2008 in terms of achieving the biggest drop in takeoff and landing delays.  Beefing up airport security measures by the day, Turkey has certified all her airports (with the exception of those that are military-civilian joint operations) that are open to international traffic to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards to become one of the top five in Europe.

    Besides taking part in the meetings and other activities of the international organizations of which it is a member, our country is also actively involved at the administrative level in the ECAC Coordination Board, the JAA Committee and Board of Directors Chairmanship, EUROCONTROL (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation) Temporary Council Coordination Committee Membership, and EUROCONTROL Road Fees Expanded Committee Chairmanship. Furthermore, Turkey, which pioneered in including civil aviation among the areas of cooperation of the D-8 countries, has also taken on the important task of Chairmanship of the D-8 Countries Civil Aviation.

    The foundations were laid for a regional cooperation with a total of 42 countries by holding meetings with the Directors of Civil Aviation of the KEI, D-8, TRACECA and Mediterranean countries. The basic aim of the Regional Cooperation Project is to create  the conditions that will ensure a sharing of their existing potentials between the D-8 countries and the countries of the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean so as to ensure cooperation in a number of areas relating to maintenance, training, ground services and civil aviation.

    Turkey has bilateral air service agreements with 92 countries allowing civil aviation between their territories. Twenty-five of these agreements allow for flights by a single airline while the other 67 allow for flights by multiple airlines.

    Turkey earned EASA Maintenance Accreditation in 2008 both to fulfill her own needs and to sell maintenance services to neighboring countries. Our maintenance firms such as Turkish Tecnic and the other maintenance corporations of private companies provide maintenance at the hangar level for aircraft of several of the world’s airlines including some in Europe and America, and are among the maintenance services preferred for such work. Meanwhile, completion of the ‘Advanced Technology Industry Park’, which will offer services in a number of areas such as transport, foreign trade, aviation and technology, is going to rapidly boost Turkey’s potential in the aircraft maintenance market.

    As a transit point for cargo movement between Asia and Europe worth billions of dollars, our country is going to become one of the major logistics bases in the world aviation arena in the near future thanks to the international structure of its fleet, its powerful infrastructure and the rapid growth it is experiencing in civil aviation.