Turkish Airlines keeps on flying high. Just in the past couple of months, the carrier has received prestigious industry awards, announced record passenger numbers and held an exciting event in Istanbul to unveil its impressive new in-flight menus.

Inflight Editor Satu Dahl reports.

From its humble beginnings in 1933 with five planes and fewer than 30 employees, in April this year Turkish Airlines celebrated the significant milestone of carrying its one billionth passenger.

And the carrier isn’t stopping there, of course.

Turkish Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee, Professor Ahmet Bolat, revealed the next ambitious goal for the airline as follows.

“Our brand, which has reached one billion passengers in 90 years, aims to reach its two billionth passenger in 2031, eight years from now,” he said.

The airline, which is a member of Star Alliance and flies to 344 worldwide destinations, including 291 international and 53 domestic routes in 129 countries, is certainly showing signs of being on target – it carried a record 7.4 million passengers in May, an increase of 16% compared to the same period last year.

The airline has also risen to eighth place in the “Strongest Airline Brands” ranking among global airlines, according to research released by Brand Finance, an international leading brand valuation organisation.

Image source: Turkish Airlines

Passenger experience: Digital vision

Providing an excellent passenger experience is of course key to maintaining a strong brand. Turkish Airlines received two prestigious awards earlier this year from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) to acknowledge this, with the carrier winning the “Best Entertainment in Europe” APEX Passenger Choice Award, as well as the “Best Food and Beverage in Europe” award.

Turkish Airlines’ Chief Marketing Officer, Ahmet Olmuştur, says that as a flag carrier with the World Class Award, which carries a value beyond being Five Star, the airline is rightfully proud to add these awards in its series of accolades.

“Our guests can access rich movie and music playlists throughout their journey with our in-flight entertainment platform Planet, making their travels enjoyable. Moreover, with our Fly Good Feel Good category, they can watch meditation content during flights and benefit from Utalk training with Fly&Learn. These significant awards indicate our high standards in health safety, service quality, and sustainability as a global carrier and bring us closer to our goal of being one of the most digital airlines.”

The airline’s in-flight entertainment offering includes content translated into more than 40 languages, over 650 Hollywood and World Cinema movies, and an HBO MAX category.

Olmuştur also says the airline will continue to prioritise brand experience and health and safety for its guests.

“I thank our guests for deeming us worthy of these awards. As the airline with the world’s most extensive international flight network, we will continue to offer the best possible travel experience to our guests without compromising flight safety.”

Catering for all tastes

The carrier is also treating passengers to new, delicious flavours on board. Inflight was delighted to attend the launch of the new dishes in Istanbul’s beautiful Esma Sultan events venue.

As of this large-scale project, Turkish Airlines renewed its dining menus for domestic and international flights in both business and economy classes.

One of the key focus areas for the carrier when designing the dishes was to follow healthy nutrition trends, especially using protein, vegetables, fruits and lower carbohydrate products.

The menus are prepared daily by expert chefs using the freshest products and boutique cooking techniques designed for high volumes.

The menu launch event in Istanbul on 11 May featured a detailed look into the new offering, as well as an impressive “food fashion show” that saw Turkish Airlines’ in-flight chefs and cabin crew members showcasing the carrier’s impressive new dishes. This was followed by a very enjoyable tasting session of the different courses for all cabin classes.

A lot of thought has gone into the diversified offering in both business and economy. In economy, the carrier now offers egg dishes, homemade muesli and cheese varieties for breakfast hours on board flights, and during mealtimes regional appetisers will be served alongside freshly prepared pasta and grilled options.

In business class, homemade pasta, dumplings, and spaghetti options are available, as well as main courses such as grilled fish and Adana kebab cooked over charcoal after being hand-minced.

Previously, Turkish Airlines offered two main course options during breakfast service, but now three different main courses will be offered. Passengers can choose from dishes such as pancakes, crepes and French toast, and healthier breakfast items are also available.

Business class passengers can also choose from a variety of homemade non-alcoholic cocktails and detox drinks that are made from healthy ingredients.

Turkish Airlines’ chefs and research and development team worked closely with the Turkish Do & Co catering company to create the new menus. The impressive offering aims to promote Türkiye’s flavoursome cuisine and includes both traditional Turkish dishes and world cuisine.

Image source: Turkish Airlines

Sustainability values

The airline revealed that it sources 80% of the products used in its menus from local producers, with seasonal products being prioritised. Just some examples of the delicious ingredients used in the dishes are Rize tea, Afyon kaymak cream and Erzincan honeycomb.

Turkish Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee, Professor Ahmet Bolat was present at the event.

He said: “As the flag carrier that offers the world’s finest flavours to its guests through privileged concepts, we have prepared a menu that features traces of both traditional Turkish cuisine and world cuisines in our renewed menus.

“With this new concept, we have also initiated practices aimed at reducing plastic use and packaging waste within the scope of Turkish Airlines’ sustainability principle.

“While presenting Turkish flavours to our guests, we are also aiming to upload our paper menu cards to digital platforms for the sake of sustainability, allowing future generations to experience these tastes as well.

“We hope that our new menus will be appreciated by our guests, and we believe that we will continue our award-winning leadership in the field of in-flight dining.”

When it comes to in-flight amenities, Turkish Airlines says it continues its efforts to offer passengers a more comfortable travel experience with recent innovations.

It is now offering a special and prestigious Ferragamo brand collection to its Business Class passengers, which is prepared according to the needs of male and female passengers. The bags feature a chic and functional design and are available in different colours throughout the year.

Staying true to its sustainability roadmap, the carrier’s travel sets contain luxury soft socks, first-class eye masks and earplugs which are made from recycled plastic, while toothbrushes are made from wheat straw.

The skincare products in the Ferragamo travel set help passengers will feel refreshed and relaxed during flights.

Connecting the dots

When attending the menu reveal event in Istanbul in May, Inflight also got to take part in an exclusive media round table with Professor Bolat held prior to the event.

During the briefing, he reiterated the airline’s commitment to provide the best possible in-flight experience to customers.

“We serve five star meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – it is costly, but our passengers deserve it,” he said.

Professor Bolat also revealed big news for the carrier in other areas of the business, such as a planned order of approximately 600 additional aircraft, with more details on total numbers and specific aircraft types to be revealed at a later stage.

He also mentioned that Turkish Airlines is planning to offer free Wi-Fi for passengers in all classes in less than two years’ time – the carrier is currently in the process of choosing the supplier for this and is looking at Starlink connectivity as an option among other providers.

This is certainly an exciting future development for passengers, and one that Inflight will be keeping a very close eye on.

This article originally appeared in Inflight July/August 2023 edition. Please click here to view recent issues of Inflight magazine.

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