Wednesday,  April 24, 2019  8:37 pm


With the addition of 2 flights from YYZ by early 2013, Turkish Airlines looks to expand its Canadian market reach
Zachary-Cy Vanasse

Turkish Airlines: Abdulkadir Bulsen, regional marketing representative; Darlene Paolucci, BDM; & Orhan Sivrikaya, general manager for Canada
Orhan Sivrikaya, general manager for Canada, Turkish Airlines met with a group of travel media and industry partners at the Holiday Inn Toronto on Tuesday to discuss the airline’s expansion in Canada.

With more than 180 aircraft offering more than 190 destinations beyond Turkey, Turkish Airlines views itself not just as the airline to choose when travelling to Istanbul and other destinations within the country, but also as an international carrier that can open the world up to Canadian travellers, according to Sivrikaya. Turkish Airlines recently added Nigeria and Iraq to its destinations and offers flights to nearly every country in Europe.

“But we are not just growing in capacity, but also in customer services,” explained Sivrikaya. “We have a policy not to cut anything with customer service."

The general manager for Canada told those in attendance for the meeting that all the planes Turkish Airlines uses on its Toronto routes are new and that the airline will be looking to offer passengers live TV and internet access aboard its flights in the near future.

“We are sure that once customers experience our product, they will return to travel with Turkish Airlines,” said Sivrikaya.

Orhan Sivrikaya, general manager for Canada, Turkish Airlines
The Canadian market

“Canada is a very important market for us,” Sivrikaya said, adding that the airline would like to, and is looking to, expand to Montreal in the near future as well as Vancouver further down the line.

Turkish Airlines currently offers three weekly direct flights out of Toronto to Istanbul on Boeing 777s and as of March 25, 2012 a fourth flight will be added. In January 2013 the number of flights offered out of Toronto will grow once again as the airline adds a fifth flight to its weekly schedule.

In 2011, 76,000 passengers flew between Toronto and Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, and with the additional flight coming in March, Sivrikaya expects that number to increase to more than 100,000 passengers for 2012. Approximately 50 per cent of those passengers continue beyond Istanbul to other destinations the airline offers, according to Sivrikaya. 

“Our services have helped to improve relations between Turkey and Canada. After, for example, we started providing direct services we see the number of tourists visiting Turkey out of Canada is increasing. Trade volume is also increasing,” he said, pointing out that before Turkish Airlines establish the direct services there were only about 100,000 Canadians visiting Turkey annually. That number has grown to approximately 180,000 in 2011.


The airline is currently in the process of exploring its relationship with Athens, said Sivrikaya, as Turkish Airlines offers convenient connections to the Greek capital for Canadians. As part of this exploration the airline will be offering a FAM, likely in April, to Athens – with a visit to Istanbul included - on Turkish Airlines.

“Our target is to have people experience our connecting flights,” said Darlene Paolucci, business development manager, Turkish Airlines. “One example of that is Istanbul and Athens.”

Travel agency support

“We need travel agencies support,” said Sivrikaya. “We consider the relationship with travel agenices as very important (because) not many people are aware of our good product... I think travel agencies will connect more passengers for us. They are our number one channel in Canada... We are not in competition with them; instead we are working with them.”