Room to grow

posted on 14th May 2019
Room to grow

Turkish Ground Services is busier than ever before and is set for more growth with the move to Istanbul Airport, writes Megan Ramsay

Turkish Ground Services (TGS) has seen increasing demand for its services as passenger numbers through Turkey’s airports have risen. The company is also set to benefit from growth at the new Istanbul Airport opened last month.

According to Sani Sener, executive board member and CEO of TGS parent company, TAV Airports Holding: “As Turkey’s value proposition in tourism became more evident in 2018 with lower prices, Turkey again became very attractive for tourists from all parts of the world. In 2018, European visitors to Turkey increased 33% while Russian tourists increased 26%. Visitors from the rest of the world increased 8%.

“With this strength in tourist arrivals Turkey reached all-time highs in tourist numbers. With the value proposition continuing, we expect another very strong year in tourism in Turkey in 2019.”

A spokesperson for TGS agrees. “We think that 2018 was a very efficient year for the aviation sector in Turkey. Furthermore, as TGS, we had great year in terms of flight numbers as well as financially.

“In 2018 we served more than 407,000 flights operated by Turkish Airlines and its subsidiary company AnadoluJet, plus 65,000 flights operated by foreign airlines (which we call third-party flights) at our eight stations.

“In particular, with increasing flights at our southern stations raising the operational intensity there, the resolution that we show in achieving on-time performance meant that we avoided any glitches,” the TGS spokesperson added.

According to TGS estimates, 2019 will be “a decent year,” he went on.

Istanbul Airport move

One of the biggest reasons for this positive outlook is the inauguration in October last year of Istanbul Airport, which has a capacity of 200 million passengers – far outstripping that of Istanbul’s Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen gateways combined.

The new airport benefits from features such as facial recognition technology to ease the flow of passengers, and reduced wait times at baggage reclaim thanks to its high-capacity baggage handling system and the latest baggage store technology.

As for the relocation of Turkish Airlines to the new gateway: “What we might call ‘the great migration’ resulted in a spectacular transport operation that was successfully completed,” the TGS spokesperson said – noting that there is even a National Geographic documentary about this hugely complex undertaking.

Turkish Airlines had previously called Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport home throughout its 86-year history. Commenting on the decision to set up operations at the new airport instead, Turkish Airlines chairman of the board and executive committee Mehmet İlker Aycı declared: “Currently the biggest airport project in the world, this enormous facility will be the home of the resounding local and global growth of Turkish Airlines in future while becoming the most important driving force behind our growth with its state-of-the-art physical capabilities and capacity.”

Sener is also of the opinion that TAV’s ground handling companies, Havas and TGS, “will be clear beneficiaries of the growth that the New Istanbul Airport will provide for the Turkish aviation sector, as we agreed with our partner Turkish Airlines to extend our partnership with TGS for 15 more years”.

TGS itself is similarly confident that Istanbul New Airport will offer new opportunities to the aviation sector in general and to the handler in particular.

“For TGS, we think that new and existing airlines will provide added value to us because of increasing flights, especially Turkish Airlines flights,” the spokesperson explained. Indeed, the carrier has announced the addition of a raft of new destinations and increased frequencies already this year, including flights to Marrakech and Sharjah, among others.

“Furthermore, Istanbul Airport, which is considered to be one of the biggest hubs in Europe, will benefit our other stations thanks to the transfer flights to [other destinations in] Anatolia.”

Investment plans

TGS’s investment plans for the rest of 2019 are based largely on the newly opened airport. The handler has added an extra 4,000 staff and will be serving the world’s largest airport with over 10,000 personnel, the handler’s spokesperson confirmed.

In addition, it has invested in more than 200 pieces of new motorised handling equipment, while a total of 4,364 items have been put into service at the gateway. On top of that, TGS has built its own facilities with a footprint of 23,000 square metres at Istanbul Airport.

Beyond the new hub, there is plenty to keep TGS busy across its network for the rest of this year. For instance: “We have added new charter and scheduled flights to our company. Indigo, Air Albania and Turkmenistan Airlines are examples of these.

“Ryanair Sun and Ryanair, companies which we have been serving at our Antalya and Dalaman stations since 2017, have increased their flights to those same stations for 2019. Furthermore, they also set a charter tariff for this summer to Bodrum Airport,” the TGS spokesperson concluded.

TGS provides ground handling services to Turkish Airlines, as well as other carriers, at eight airports across Turkey:  Istanbul Atatürk, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, Ankara Esenboğa, Izmir Adnan Menderes, Antalya, Adana, Milas-Bodrum and Dalaman.