Regional charter flights soon to plow the Turkish skies

May 06, 2010, Thursday/ 16:26:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The charter flights aboard small commercial aircraft, known in Turkey as jitney planes or air taxis, will be launched soon, a high-level civil aviation authority has said.

Ali Arıduru, head of the Civil Aviation General Directorate (SHGM), said Turkey was making preparations for charter flights via regional airliners in an effort to improve the country’s civil aviation industry. “Aircraft with a capacity of 66 seats will be utilized, and flights will be from Sabiha Gökçen Airport to the Tokat, Siirt, Zonguldak, Nevşehir and Antalya airports in the first phase,” Arıduru noted.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency on Wednesday, Arıduru said airline companies would be free to set ticket prices for the charter flights. He predicted that airfare would be reasonably priced to attract more passengers and be competitive against inter-city buses.

The first operating permit for the air taxi project was granted to Turkish firm Borajet just a few weeks ago.

He said the charter flights would reinvigorate airports, expressing hope that vacant airports throughout the country will soon start to operate efficiently, creating wealth in their regions instead of being a burden on the public.

The state spends a great deal of money to maintain airports that were built without due planning and are not used today for lack of sufficient demand. Sabiha Gökçen, for instance, was one such airport until recently.

He spoke highly about the charter flights, emphasizing that the flights would fully comply with aviation safety requirements and adding that charter flights are quite common in Europe.

The government has recently promoted charter flights in order to boost business in certain tourism and trade hubs by offering the option of rapid air transport.

“We are planning to determine seven centers for foreign departures from Turkey. People will transfer to large-scale aircraft after being transported to these centers via charter flights from all across Turkey. These centers will be İstanbul, İzmir, Ankara, Antalya, Kayseri and Trabzon plus a yet-to-be-determined province in eastern Anatolia,” Arıduru said.

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