How is the Market?
Turkish aviation market keeps growing with the increase in the number of passengers travelling to Turkey as well as increase in the number of bilateral agreements that Turkey has entered into with other countries for commercial flights. In 2013, for example, 82,7 million passengers landed in Turkey which made the country the 6th most visited holiday destination in the world with 37,8 million tourists. In addition to such number of passengers, Turkey has entered into 161 bilateral agreements with various countries for commercial flights in the first half of 2014. Needless to say, Turkey's strategically geographical position with airspace at the crossroads of three continents and being the bridge between Asia and Europe have led Turkey to be one of the leading stops for passengers travelling all around the world. Even Istanbul itself is located in such a position that 41 different countries can connect to Istanbul within only 3 hours.
Who is in Charge?
In Turkey, the conditions applicable to foreign entities, who are willing to give air transportation services between Turkey and other countries, are determined by the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication ("the Ministry") by taking into consideration the bilateral agreements and multilateral agreements to which Turkey is a party.
Air Transport Department, which is among the main service units of the Civil Aviation General Directorate of the Ministry ("CAD"), is in charge of reviewing, approving and allowing the flight schedules of air transportation companies having flights to Turkish airports.
Procedures to be Followed
The procedures to be followed by foreign airline companies in order for them to launch flights to Turkey are regulated in Gen 1.2 (Procedures for Entry, Transit and Departure of Aircraft) of AIP Turkey (Aeronautical Information Publication).
The circular regarding the procedures and principles for flight permit applications as issued by the CAD, on the other hand, provides that any and all flights to be operated by using the airspace and airports of Turkey must comply with the procedures provided under the Law, CAD Law, and AIP Turkey and are subject to the permit of the CAD.
The CAD requires a number of documents to be filed with in order to issue permits for scheduled flights.
All applications for flight permits must be made at least thirty (30) days prior to the contemplated scheduled flights, unless this time period is provided otherwise in the relevant bilateral agreement.
Finally, foreign airline companies must appoint authorized personnel in Turkey in order to carry out those procedures for obtaining the relevant permits and the CAD must be informed of the contact details of such personnel. It must also be noted that foreign airline companies, who do not employ required personnel of their own in Turkey, must get the services of ground services companies having work permits for surveillance and management, aircraft private security services and supervision.
What is Next?
The air traffic in Turkey is expected to increase in the upcoming years with new international routes to be launched from and/or to Turkey by both Turkish and foreign airlines. According to the data of the State Airports Authority of Turkey (Devlet Hava Meydanlari Isletmesi-DHMI) (the "SAA"), the number of domestic passengers is expected to exceed 117 million and the number of international passengers is expected to exceed 105 million in 2017. As to the air cargos, it is expected by the SAA that the number of cargos transported will be 900 thousand tons.
If the procedures and the relevant paperwork are minimized, we believe that Turkey may even pass beyond the foregoing numbers. In any case, Turkey clearly keeps growing dynamically in the aviation sector.
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