Turkish Ground Services: eyeing expansion at home and away

posted on 5th June 2018

Turkish Ground Services (TGS) was established on January 1, 2010. It operates at six Turkish airports, namely: Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Ankara Esenboga Airport, Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport, Antalya Airport, Adana Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport. This is no small operation – it comprises more than 3,000 pieces of equipment and 6,000 staff – and offers ramp, passenger and cargo handling services. Airline Ground Services (AGS) finds out more from Bayram Özçelik (BÖ), General Manager of TGS

AGS       What is TGS? A partnership? A separate company with investment from diverse sources?

BÖ         TGS is a joint venture company between Turkish Airlines (THY) and Havaş. THY’s idea was to organise its business units into separate companies. Therefore, THY sought a highly qualified joint venture partner which exhibits strong expertise in terms of efficiency and third-party sales. TGS operates THY flights at six major national airports in Turkey, which comprises about 300,000 operations per year. The selection of the joint venture partner took place through a tender process, which concluded with the partnership of Havaş. Accordingly, the role of THY within TGS is the organisation and coordination of all commercial and operational tasks in partnership with HAVAŞ. Another noteworthy point is that THY is TGS’s largest customer with a share of over 95% of all business handled.

AGS       Why was TGS put in place? Is it a better way to deliver services to Turkish Airlines and third-party airlines? Is it more cost-effective? Is it more focused on training and quality as a stand-alone business?

BÖ         Cost-cutting played an overriding role in the decision to found TGS. In terms of training and quality standards, THY and HAVAŞ were already at international standards – on an exemplary level.  By forming TGS, it has become possible to be proactive in generating third-party business, therefore it has a positive collateral impact on ground services spending by THY.

AGS       What is happening at the airports in Turkey in terms of investment, passenger and baggage handling technologies and new infrastructure?

BÖ         At the major national airports in Turkey, subsequent to liberalisation, TAV, ICF and LIMAK built and have been operating highly modern, attractive and convenient terminals. What awaits us in terms of technological innovation is a semi-automatic check-in, visa, lost and found, and boarding process. Furthermore, in the future, all airports will be equipped with RFID technology. This will allow a faster and more efficient handling process.

AGS       What is TGS investing in with regards to training and proving quality standards?

BÖ         We are currently approving the implementation of ISAGO and green airport standards. Moreover, we have a highly successful training division which ensures an exemplary level of training.

AGS       How is TGS investing in GSE? What type of equipment are you buying? How much equipment have you inherited from the airline and HAVAS? Do you buy equipment outright or do you lease it? What is your on-going procurement programme for GSE?

BÖ         Because of our history, we have received a certain percentage of our equipment from THY. Besides the transfer of GSE from THY to TGS, TGS has invested on its own highly modern fleet and other equipment with an investment value of approximately $80 million. Schopf, COBUS, TLD and Harlan form the largest part of our new investments.

AGS       Do you also handle cargo? If so, what have you put in place in terms of hangars, teams and equipment for cargo loading?

BÖ         Cargo handling is an issue which is currently being pursued in our internal processes. As part of this process, we have established a cargo department which is planning and monitoring the preparations.

AGS       Which IT projects are you pursuing for ground handling purposes? To what extent is this dictated by your clients?

BÖ         Inform and SITA DSC are systems that we have implemented for planning and operations. We also use TROYA and QUICKRES for THY handling.

AGS       Will you expand to other airports either inside or beyond Turkey?

BÖ         Of course, we have expansion plans at national and international level. Frankly, national expansion is limited to an additional three to four airports. Our main markets are Central Europe, CIS countries and North America. Currently we are in the planning process for 10 stations with service-specific diversity.

AGS       What does investment from Havaş mean for you in terms of expertise and experience in the ground handling market?

BÖ         Havaş was spun off from the Turkish Airlines Group in the 1990s during the privatisation process.  Through its restructuring and the continuous optimisation of all processes, today, Havaş is a flagship company in many ways. Thus, Havaş is a model of success and stability with long experience, particularly in ramp services. As well as the inspiration from Havaş, TGS, with its young and dy namic organisational culture, has brought new vision and competition to the market that will lead the sector to a new era.