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February 17, 2013, Sunday

THY debate

Turkish national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) has been on the nation's domestic agenda over the past week due to claims that it made a change in its policy concerning alcohol consumption on flights and due to photographs that were leaked to the media that allegedly revealed new uniforms for the THY cabin crew.

The uniforms, which were designed by well-known fashion designer Dilek Hanif, have been disapproved of by many because they include a long skirt, a small cap and a long coat for women, which, according to many, are very traditional and uncomfortable for flight attendants.

Although THY announced that it had made no change to its alcohol policy, saying that it still serves alcoholic beverages to passengers in business class [only] on its domestic flights due to low demand [in economy] and that the photographs were just one of the dozens of samples the designer worked on, the company could not save it from being a target of criticism, which some find to be “unjust.”

Star's Fehmi Koru finds the criticism against THY very unjust and thinks it is aimed to tarnish the image of the company, which is the most widely recognized Turkish brand in the international arena. He says those who criticize THY for the uniforms and its alcohol policy have been trying to create an image that Turkey is getting more conservative and interfering in people's lifestyles and now they have decided to target THY.

“Is this really the case? Does every airline company serve alcohol to their passengers?” asks Koru and gives examples of airlines in Western countries that do not serve alcohol to their passengers on both domestic and international flights. He says some quick research shows this trend is related to flight safety.

With regard to the uniforms, Koru says the final shape the uniforms will take will show that all the debate on the issue was meaningless. “It seems that when these debates cool down, we will see that we have damaged the reputation of our country's most well-known brand with our own hands,” laments Koru.

Sabah's Sevilay Yükselir, who spoke with THY Chairman Hamdi Topçu, quotes him as saying that all the controversy about THY is part of a lynch campaign against the company. He says THY is a for-profit organization and does not make its decisions based on the views or beliefs of its administrators.

Topçu also says he, too, did not find Hanif's designs suitable and that they have been eliminated from the list of possible choices for new uniforms. “Whatever decision we make, we first care about the company's interests. The rest is fabrication and speculation which aim to defame THY,” Yükselir quotes Topçu as saying.

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