Turkish Airlines’ (THY) Board Chairman İlker Aycı said that the company’s recovery from the COVID-19 break in operations can take up to five years, daily Hürriyet reported on May 27.
The chairman’s comments come as the country’s flagship carrier prepares to resume operations June 5 after a two-months-long pause to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Aycı noted that with 90 percent of all the planes in the world on the ground, the industry’s costs have gone through the roof.
“The price ceiling for domestic flights in Turkey was set at 450 Turkish Lira in October of 2019. Flying at that rate today would seriously harm a company,” Aycı said, hinting at an increase in average ticket prices.
The chairman added that operating with around 60 percent occupancy would not be sustainable for airlines in the long run.
“It will take one to three years to recover from what we’re going through. Maybe five years. We can’t increase our sales with these restrictions, and we can’t have profit without occupancy.”
Aycı noted that it will take time for customers to warm up to using air travel again, which means it will take a while for airlines to reach pre-coronavirus occupancy levels.
Meanwhile, the company might need to adjust higher-income employee’s wages to be able to ensure financial stability for all employees, Aycı said.
“We will try as much as we can to avoid lay-offs. We will need to distribute between those who are paid 20 units and those paid one unit. We have to take from the one paid more to ensure the survival of workers who are paid less.”
In an attempt to cut costs while ensuring customers’, workers’ and the firm’s well-being, THY will no longer offer food on domestic flights or international flights that are up to two hours long, the chairman said.
The airline, known for its extensive in-flight menus and offerings, will eventually start serving food again, the chairman said, but it will all be pre-packaged.
“The time of the flying cook is over. It’s the time of flying hygiene.”
Guests will be able to pre-order online and have their food delivered on the flight. The airline will continue to serve guests water in the cabin.
The airline is constantly disinfectant its fleet, including head rests, arms rests and tables on the seats, Aycı said.
The hygiene kits that the airline offers on long flights will now include face masks and antibacterial products, the chairman added.