Turkish Airlines: Even Stronger After 40 Years

Reminding listeners that there are 1,061 airlines in the world today but that this number is expected to fall to 12 within 40 years, Tav Airport Holding’s Ceo Sani Şener Said, “and i believe Turkish Airlines is going to be one of those 12.”

TAV Airport Holding operates 10 international airports in Turkey and abroad, among them Istanbul Ataturk Airport. We talked with the company’s CEO, Sani Şener, about the future of airports.

What are the airports of the future going to be like? What kind of airports are we going to be traveling from in 30-40 years’ time?
In order to imagine what airports will be like in 50 years, you first have to be able to predict the situation in the aviation sector’s two biggest players, the aircraft manufacturers and the airline companies.

So, what are the airplanes and airlines of the future going to be like?
When we look at planes, I for one imagine engines like those of the British Harrier Jump Jet warplanes and passenger planes that can be rotated vertically and landed like helicopters.  I think this type of engine technology in planes is going to be developed within 50 years and that there will no longer be a need for runways at airports. In other words, planes are going to land like helicopters, they are going to be able to bring their engines into horizontal position and load and unload passengers to a bridge at the terminal.

Why will planes that can take off and land vertically be developed?
That way there will no longer be a need for extensive areas of land for airports. The biggest problem in both Europe and Turkey today is building runways.

How will this be possible with fuel prices so high?
Airplanes are going to be a lot lighter thanks to new substance technologies and this will make a serious savings on fuel possible, as will very significant innovations in engine design. Alternative fuels will be produced, and carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere will in turn be reduced.

What developments are you expecting on the airline front?
Aviation needs to ensure that it continues to be a profitable branch of business. We are seeing significant increases in passenger and cargo transport together with globalization. There are 1,061 airlines large and small in the world today. This sparks competition and makes profitability difficult. Turkey has handled this liberalization and privatization extremely well. Constructive competition, in other words competition that boosts efficiency, has come to the transportation sector in Turkey. But I also think that a lot more liberalization is going to develop parallel with the world. In the developing countries as in Turkey, the situation is going to change a little together with liberalization and privatization in the aviation sector. I believe that the more passenger capacity increases, the more costs are going to fall, efficiency is going to rise and there is going to be serious consolidation among airlines together with liberalization.
How low is that 1,061 figure going to go?
IATA is forecasting that the number will fall to 12 in 40 years’ time. I also think that there is going to be a very big consolidation, and I believe that Turkish Airlines is going to be one of those 12.

What then are airports of the future going to be like?
I think there will be 10 to 15 airport operators total in the world in 50 years. Consolidation is going to create a common infrastructure that enhances information and efficiency, and economies of scale are going to bring costs down very significantly. Enormous developments have taken place in the sector up to now, but I say, “What’s been done up to now is just like picking the apples from the low-lying boughs. It’s those who pick the apples high up in the tree that are going to be successful from now on.” We recently loaded the TAV airports’ flight data systems onto the smart communications systems on line. Now you can see your flight time, flight gate and whether or not there is a delay on your smart phone.

How will security be handled at these airports of the future?
I believe all security screening is going to be biometric. Passport lines will become a thing of the past, and you’ll go through passport control with just a fingerprint and a retina scan. This has already started to be implemented in any case, but the authorizations have not been issued yet here in Turkey. If the Interior Ministry and Security Council give their permission, we can implement the technology immediately.

How are these things going to be handled in the airports you imagine?
Security checks and passport control are going to be biometric. And check-in lines will definitely be eliminated.
You will be identified by your fingerprint and the retina of your eye and you won’t wait in any lines at all. There will be consolidations among airports and you will be able to pick up at your arrivals airport a product you selected at your departure airport thanks to the development of shared information infrastructure. Waiting lines on the runway will be eliminated as well, and you won’t have to wait in air traffic on landing because there will be big improvements in the sensitivity of air traffic instruments. GPS and radar systems will be far more effective and efficient. Distances between airborne planes will be reduced and traffic capacity increased by these techniques. There were 5 billion passengers in the world in 2010. That number is going to be 16 billion in 2050.