Turkish Airlines to begin PH route Tuesday; to rekindle vibrancy

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By Codratus Godson

The 86 year-old Turkish Airline will begin landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport at Omagwa on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. This may have looked ordinary few years ago when Port Harcourt was bubbling with over three international airlines including the German Airlines (Lufthansa), French Airlines (Air France), and one private airline. Turkish Airline would have simply made it the fourth.

Rather, all of them including the oldest one in the region, Air France, left at the end of March 2019, except Lufthansa. This caused great panic in official and business circles in Port Harcourt.

Now, Turkish Airlines is set to land in Port Harcourt and boost the business confidence of the Garden City.

About – Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier of Turkey. Described as Turkey’s “rising star”, Turkish Airlines started its journey in 1933 with just five airplanes. Today, it serves with a passenger and cargo fleet of 336 aircraft. The substantial growth it has achieved puts Turkish Airlines among the top airlines of the world. By the end of 2020, the fleet of the carrier including cargo is expected to reach 500 aircrafts.
Turkish Airlines, opening more international gateways across the world for its passengers than any other airline, currently offers a wide range of flights to 304 destinations in 122 countries. The airline has had a rising performance in its passenger potential for more than ten years, carried 10.4 million passengers in 2003. This figure rose to 29.1 million, 32.6 million, 39 million and 48.3 million passengers in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. In 2014, an impressive period of growth saw this number rise to around 55 million. The number of passengers carried in 2015 was 61.2 million, and this increased to 62.8 million by the end of 2016. While the number of passengers carried by the flag carrier reached to 68.6 million in 2017, Turkish Airlines’ total Load Factor improved by 4.7 points up to 79.1%, while international Load Factor increased by 5 points, up to 78.4%, during January-December 2017 period. During January-April 2018, increase in demand and total number of passengers was 21% and 24%, respectively, over the same period of last year, and the total number of passengers reached to 23 million.

Critical concerns

Aviation observers have raised some areas requiring the firm to especially the confidence level of the airline in the face of the mishap of the weekend where Air Peace missed its tracks and crash-landed to cause panic and ended up blocking landing space for other planes.

They said PH is the third route destination in Nigeria for Turkish Airlines and would want to know if this one is sign of more to come and if it is part of a plan to expand operations in Nigeria. They may want to know the level of traffic passenger traffic they have in Nigeria, and what they expect from Port Harcourt hub.

Some want to know if there are benefits for passengers enjoyment for flying with Turkish Airlines as against its competitors.

Many more questions could be flying from media men covering the airport and the historic arrival. The state government seems upbeat about the development as the governor, Nyesom Wike, has offered to improve ancillary facilities including roads and lights.

International operations in PH

Port Harcourt International Airport, the third busiest airport in Nigeria, came under sever scarcity of international airlines in March 2019 following the departure of one of the pioneer airlines in the airport; Air France.

According to our correspondent at the Port Harcourt International Airport, at Omagwa, the departure of the Air France seemed cripple the economic and normal business activities at the airport, and hoped for urgent measures to bring the situation under control.

As at February 2019, three international airlines, the German Airline (Lufthansa), the Air France, and a private airline (Cronus) that shuttled the West African Coast and Central African States.

Unfortunately, the decision of the Air France to suspend their operations from the Port Harcourt International airport in March seemed to the airport in a tight corner because only the Lufthansa Airline would be left to operate in international route.

The management of the French Airline had on several occasions given notice of intention to suspend their operations in Port Harcourt and relocate to Lagos. Their sudden departure was no longer a secret.

According to our sources, the departure was feared to have the capacity to affect directly and indirectly the economic and personal fortunes of the state and the Niger Delta region in general.

Several reasons were given for the negative turn of events at the only international airport in the oil-rich region in Nigeria; one being dwindling economy of Nigeria, occasioning low international passenger turnout at the PH airport. This much was confirmed by the out-going Regional Manager at the airport, Otumba Ojo Afolabi.

The region for some years now had witnessed unrestrained violence occasioned by the activities of Niger Delta militants, agitators, and politically induced violence.

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