On the first day of the trial, the court heard the Finnish airliner's account of what led to the cancellation of its contract with Atlasjet and the size of the losses it claimed it had incurred as a result. Air Finland CEO Mika Helenius also addressed the court on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Atlasjet Chairman Murat Ersoy will be in court today (Thursday) to give his account of how Air Finland violated an agreement between the two aviation companies, which resulted in Atlasjet losing prestige and anticipated revenue.
The Turkish airliner was ordered by a local Finnish court to pay 2.5 million euros to Air Finland in November 2010 after Atlasjet claimed it was forced to cancel a contract to rent passenger planes from the Finnish company when it violated their agreement.
According to the agreement, Atlasjet would carry passengers from various locations in Europe to Turkey with the rented planes and crew from Air Finland. However, due to many technical problems with Air Finland's planes, there were significant delays. A delay of 25 hours in the Spanish city of Barcelona caused many tour operators to cancel their contracts with Atlasjet, the Turkish company underlined. “In addition to paying more than 600,000 euros in fines to tour operators worldwide, our image was badly damaged because of the technical problems on the planes we rented from Air Finland,” Ersoy told Today's Zaman on Tuesday.
“I expected some small problems, which could have led to delays of up to 30 minutes, but the dispatch reliability, the percentage of all scheduled flights that departed on time in a given period, decreased to 54 percent while it is normally 99 percent. Air Finland's management misinterpreted the terms of the agreement we signed with them by presenting ridiculous claims such as the lessee is responsible for technical deficiencies,” he added.
Ersoy previously said they had also experienced delays when some Finnish pilots drank too much alcohol and injured themselves jumping from cliffs in the highly touristic southern Turkish province of Antalya. “I cannot imagine what would have happened if these drunk pilots had not been injured and had flown the planes,” Ersoy stated. “In order to prevent further misconduct, we decided to cancel our agreement with Air Finland in September 2007, but despite all the issues we faced, the Finnish court decided that our company was the guilty party and said we had to pay out 2.5 million euros in compensation to Air Finland for cancelling the remaining 40 days of flights. This time, however, I hope to see a fair trial as Air Finland does not have even a single persuasive claim. It [Air Finland] is trying to manipulate the court by making flawed interpretations of the terms of the agreement we later cancelled,” Atlasjet's chairman stated.
In remarks to Today's Zaman in Helsinki, Atlasjet's Switzerland-based attorney Dr. Ali Çivi underscored that he expects the final court decision to be in favor of the Turkish company when its evidence is provided to the court on Thursday. “The real reasons for the delays will be among the evidence,” he said.