Mayors of 11 metropolitan municipalities from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) have expressed their willingness to cover all of the maintenance and operating costs of firefighting planes belonging to the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK).
In an online meeting they held on Aug. 3, the CHP mayors discussed the wildfires which have been ravaging through Turkey's southern coast for a week now.
“We would like to highlight that we, as the mayors of 11 metropolitan municipalities, are ready to cover all of the maintenance and operating costs at this institution [THK], which has served our country greatly,” the mayors said.
The mayors said that after getting the planes running once again, they will make them available “anytime needed” for the use of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.
“And upon a collaboration with the THK, the institution's inventory will be made available for the use of our municipalities,” they said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week admitted that Turkey does not have even a single firefighting plane of its own and accused the THK of not maintaining planes in good shape.
However, experts and former administrators of the THK insist that the organization's planes are operational and put the blame on the government for leaving the THK’s planes lying around idly in hangars.
The government has long been in cooperation with the THK by hiring their firefighter planes. However, Ankara has recently accused the organization of not renewing its fleet and technology, saying its planes are not operational due to a lack of sufficient maintenance and protection.
A government-appointed trustee committee was appointed to the THK in 2019, replacing the previous leadership. Media reports said earlier this month that the trustees fired 11 pilots and 15 technicians amid a financial crisis.
However, the THK's former manager management denied the government's accusations, saying the organization had six operational aircrafts ready for deployment.
“We have nine planes, out of which six are ready. Why should they not fly? Our planes are not antique. They are in good condition, we call them 'Birds of Fire,'” Bayram Duman, the former head of the THK Central Board of Inspection, said on July 30, adding that the fires would not have spread so extensively if the THK's planes had been utilized.