When Turkish Consul General Özgür Kıvanç Altan visited Atlanta this week, one thread ran through all his conversations: Strong desire for a nonstop flight to Istanbul.
“I say ‘Hi,’ they say ‘Turkish Airlines,’” he said of enthusiasm bordering on impatience expressed by those he met during a three-day trip up from Miami. “‘Please, bring it now – then we’ll say hi to you,’ they say.”
The consulate is pushing for the flights as the country expands its diplomatic and commercial presence globally. In Africa, Turkey has opened some 20 embassies in the last five years, and five to 10 in Latin America. Based on its air connectivity, Atlanta is a hole in the country’s route map.
“Everybody’s flying to Istanbul and everybody’s flying to Atlanta, but they don’t have a connection. That’s weird. We have to correct that,” Mr. Altan said.
Though he’s not privy to Turkish Airlines’s business strategy, he noted that it could be short on planes after a rapid expansion that has enabled it to claim more destination countries than any other carrier.
“As they come into inventory I think they’ll be more aggressive in starting new lines overseas,” he said.
That confirms what a Turkish Airlines spokesman told Airport City last year when he confirmed that its board of directors was eyeing Atlanta for a nonstop flight that might begin in 2017 or 2018 when new aircraft come on line.
Read more about where Atlanta fits into the airline’s global expansion plans: Turkish Airlines Eyeing Atlanta-Istanbul Nonstop Flight