No Turkish Airlines Staff Cuts for Two Years, Chairman Tells HT

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Turkish Airlines will maintain its staffing levels for two years, even as the coronavirus pandemic devastates global air travel, Chairman Ilker Ayci said in an interview with Haberturk news website.

“We see 2020 and 2021 not as years of profitability, but as years to protect employment,” Ayci said. “Our job is to resist layoffs, as much as we can afford to.” Global airlines’ revenue is unlikely to recover to 2019 levels for at least the next couple of years, he said.

That said, no company can completely protect its workforce when there is a drop off in sales, so “all of us will need to make sacrifices,” Ayci said.

Flight bans and the prospect of reduced passenger numbers because of continued social distancing and hygiene measures to avoid Covid-19 infections pose a significant threat to airlines’ income. The number of passengers Turkish Airlines carried in March fell 53% from a year earlier, the latest figures show.

To navigate this period, Turkish Airlines is assessing new sources of finance, including selling old planes, said Ayci. The priority is for the national carrier to resolve its funding challenges on its own, he said.

Here are some other highlights from the interview:

  • Turkish Airlines will reduce the size of its offices abroad, while slimming down some domestic branches
  • The company will make its fleet “fitter,” as it pursues a line up of “younger and more efficient” aircraft
  • Applying social distancing measures on aircraft is not “realistic,” according to Ayci
  • Ticket prices will rise
  • Turkish Airlines will have “hygiene experts” on board flights

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