Temel Kotil, Chief Executive Officer of Turkish Airlines’, has said he is baffled by the inability of the UK authorities to make a decision on increasing runway capacity in the South-East of England generally, and Heathrow specifically.
The CEO whose airlines flies out of both London Gatwick twice daily and Heathrow five times daily (as well as Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh), said that he cannot understand why “… the UK authorities are not expanding Heathrow.”
“Can you imagine? Everybody wants to come to your city to bring passengers to spend money and the UK authorities saying “We don’t need a big airport".
"The UK authorities don’t know what they are doing.”
Kotil compared the inbound tourism prospects of Istanbul, New York, and London, referring to the Mastercard Global Destinations Index.
“The number of international tourists in Istanbul has risen from four million to more than 12 million this year.
"It’s not as much as London yet, but is more than New York, and it’s because of the airport being able to make connections.
"In Istanbul they are making a much bigger airport which will then allow Istanbul’s visitor numbers to reach 30 million. So it’s not just about the airport being a hub. When passengers use the airport you have many in transit and they may have eight or ten hours and want to see the city."
As far as expansion of its servcies into the UK, Kotil, said that “We’d love to land in Heathrow one hundred times a day, but no one is selling the slots.”
Earlier this year Turkish Airlines bought slots from SAS (see story here). The reported price for this slot was $22 million, while another pair went to a unnamed carrier (believed to be Etihad) for $60 million.
Kotil admitted that the slots were expensive, but said “it was like buying a house in London”.