Exclusive - TK Cargo Reaches out to the Next Level, Fostered by Istanbul’s New Airport

Shortly ago, Turkey’s President Mr Erdogan turned the first sod for constructing the giant Istanbul New Airport located northwest of the megalopolis at the shores of the Black Sea. As aviation experts forecast, the so far Yeni Havalimani called project will shape the international aviation landscape new, offering particularly Turkish Airlines and their cargo arm unprecedented growth opportunities. Halit Anlatan, TK Cargo’s VP Marketing and Sales tells more.

TK Cargo’s Halit Anlatan  /  source: hs
TK Cargo’s Halit Anlatan / source: hs

Halit, which expectation does TK Cargo attach to this centennial project?
For Turkish Airlines and our cargo activities in particular the building of the Istanbul New Airport is of extreme importance since it offers us an almost unlimited growth perspective. This must be seen against the background that Istanbul is one of the most attractive business places located right at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, but also the Middle East and Africa. All data forecast that the city and its highly industrialized neighboring areas will play an even more important role in international trade and commerce in the years to come. Our current gateway Ataturk Airport is proof of this ongoing trend, reporting constant traffic increases with both rising passenger and cargo figures year after year.
Although Ataturk served Turkish Cargo successfully for a long time we’ll run into a bottleneck situation soon, surpassing the 1.2 million tons of annual handling capacity offered to us there.

So the Black Sea project is vital for securing your future?
Indeed, in view of our continuous fleet growth and constant regional and global network expansions. Therefore, we highly welcome the governmental decision to build the new Istanbul hub at the Black Sea, allowing us to spread our passenger and cargo biz in the decades to come. With a capacity of 150 million passengers per year and 6 million tons of cargo Istanbul’s future gateway will provide us new business opportunities. Once established, the Istanbul New Airport will become a global aviation hub, playing a dominant role in the first league of aviation.

For feeding cargo into and out of the New Airport but also enabling fast transits of shipments the connection to Istanbul city and particularly the Turkish hinterlands will be vital. What do the infrastructural plans foresee?
The new airport project changes the center of gravity of Istanbul. New residential and commercial areas will be constructed in the northern side. To handle the new traffic and the need for transportation, a lot more road and railways besides the current infrastructure are designed to be completed incrementally according to the gradual construction phases of the upcoming facility. Tracks for a new speed train and various new highways will be built to accelerate the traffic between the Black Sea, Marmara Sea and the Asian sides of Istanbul. These two main enhancements, rail and highway, which include a third bridge spanning the Bosporus will connect Europe and Asia fast and safely.  

Will TK Cargo fully abandon Ataturk once the Istanbul New Airport is in operation or what plans does TK Cargo have with Ataturk after the inauguration of the facility at the Black Sea?
At Turkish Cargo we intend to relocate our entire activities from Ataturk to Istanbul’s New Airport once it has been inaugurated. Beginning then, Ataturk will no longer be used for scheduled flights but will be limited to offer charter and business jet operations. Coming back to your previous questions this means that there won’t be major transfers of cargo shipments between our new gateway and our existing home base.  

What about customs procedures at your forthcoming hub? Will all incoming international goods destined to Turkey be cleared on the spot or will shipments be carried in bonded trucks to – say – Ankara, Izmir Antalya etc and customs cleared locally?
We already provide RFS services to distribute international goods to major cities in Turkey such as Izmir, Ankara, Adana and Antalya which have authorized warehouses for customs clearance processes. The same operations will be conducted in the new airport. Additionally, we will be more flexible to accept and deliver cargo to other places via bonded trucks. 

How far has e-freight been developed at TK Cargo?
Electronic Air Waybills prevent shipments to be delayed due to the loss of paper documents;  they minimize the cycle time especially in acceptance processes, improve data visibility, enhance security and – most importantly – they are the first and most important step for realizing the e-freight vision, documenting the flow of goods from beginning to end. 
According to the latest IATA’s February figures e-AWB penetration of Turkish Cargo has reached this stage:

  • Exports from IST: 35%
  • Exports from Turkey: 36.4%
  • Total e-AWB penetration: 12.9%

Turkish Cargo has focused on COMIS, an acronym that stands for ‘new core application’. This project will go live in the 2. half of 2015. After the implementation of COMIS Project, Turkish Cargo expects the number of e-AWB to increase substantially on all routes, surpassing 25% of our total AWB volume in both imports and exports.

Your freighter fleet is growing constantly. What’s on the agenda there?
Currently, we operate 10 all-cargo aircraft, 7 A330-200Fs carrying up to 65 tons and 3 A310Fs, capable of uplifting 35 tons per flight. Next year we will add 2 more A330Fs to our fleet with another one coming in 2017. Once here, we will add new routes to our existing network, with Chicago, Bahrain and Lahore standing on the agenda.

Thank you for this interview, Halit.

Heiner Siegmund

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