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A Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Turkish Airlines Won’t Lay Off Employees for Two Years

Turkish Airlines announced it will resist layoffs and protect their skilled labor until the end of 2021, when it expects the aviation industry to return to pre-pandemic operation levels.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, airlines are conducting reviews to reduce their fleet size and replace aging aircraft with more efficient new airliners to improve economic efficiency. As in the cases of Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, some companies are even selling and leasing back some of their aircraft to raise revenue. Turkish Airlines is also considering making sale and leaseback agreements as it determines they are an effective method to raise capital.

In a bid to combat the crisis, Turkish is also weighing reducing aircraft orders. The Istanbul-based carrier has unfilled orders for 77 Airbus A321neo, 25 Airbus A350-900 XWB, 55 Boeing 737 MAX and 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The carrier’s aircraft order re-evaluation comes as one of the measures it has put in place to manage costs.

The carrier is also drawing up plans to sell and lease back their spare engines to minimize their capital expenditure and save cash in the short- and medium-term. It is also noteworthy that the Turkish flag carrier has not received a governmental bailout package, even as several governments from around the world have announced bailouts to help airlines battle the biggest aviation crisis in recent history.

“I do not regard 2020 and 2021 as years of profitability, but years of employment protection. We aim to protect employment until the end of 2021. Our job is to resist layoffs as much as we can. The aviation industry faces a shortage of skilled professionals and reserving our skilled workforce as much as possible is our top priority through this period,” stated Turkish chief executive Ilker Ayci in an interview with an Istanbul-based media outlet.

Additionally, some of the pilots working for Turkish Airlines are considered to be seconded to the Turkish Air Force temporarily until the air travel returns pre-coronavirus levels.

“They can serve as a fighter jet pilot or instructor pilot and train new pilots. Within this context, I believe it is an opportunity for them,” said the CEO.

The airline is also considering a reduction in its flight network to improve financial performance and respond to crisis conditions. It will reduce flights or withdraw from the routes that are not profitable and most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have the most important flight network in the world. It will remain so. But there are destinations which we consider unprofitable and where demand has been impacted due to coronavirus pandemic. We will reduce our flights in places where demand has decreased. We will increase it in places where demand increases. It is not right to name those destinations at the moment. But we have predictions. It will become clearer when we start the flights,” said the chief of the airline.

The airline has a flight network spanning 126 countries and 316 cities, making it the carrier that flies to the greatest number of countries non-stop from a single airport in the world.

Turkish Airlines employs 5,432 pilots and 12,052 cabin crew, in addition to 46,482 personnel across all its business units and subsidiaries, making it one of the biggest employers among European airlines. As Europe’s third-largest airline, it also has 360 aircraft in his fleet.

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