Turkey: Civil Aviation In Turkey: A Fine Balance Between Growth And Regulatory Tendencies

Last Updated: 15 July 2014
Article by Safak Herdem

Global civil aviation industry is expected to register a 5% passenger growth for the next two decades. The growth in the industry is mainly generated by the growing number of passengers in Asia and the Middle East. Such a geographical concentration is no surprise given the fact that the global economic balances have been shifting towards the Asia-Pacific region and the emerging markets are behind the economic growth in many business sectors around the world. As the emerging economies are lifting up hundreds of millions people from poverty to join the burgeoning middle class, the number of passengers grow and the civil aviation industry benefits from this transformation like the remaining sectors of the transportation industry.

Civil Aviation in Turkey

Turkey is Europe's fastest growing civil aviation market, home to the Europe's Europe's second and fourth most profitable airlines in 2012. The industry has managed to clinch in to double digit growth rates during the recent years. What lies beneath the fast growth of the civil aviation industry in Turkey is the economic success story that the country shares with the rest of the BRIC countries. Like its BRIC counterparts Turkish civilian aviation is augmented by the introduction of millions of new passengers in to the Turkish civil aviation scene as a result of a similar process in other emerging economies where the expanding middle class means increased number of people with a higher disposable income to be spend on items like flight tickets.

However what sets Turkey apart from the remaining BRIC countries is its geographical position. The country is well situated to be a transportation hub in between Europe and Asia. Turkish Airlines has been successfully exploiting such geographical advantage the country possess to increase the volume of international transfer traffic. Istanbul now serves as an important center for international transfers. But neither the general economic growth nor the geographical advantage to serve as a hub are by themselves enough for the Turkish aviation industry to take off to reach such unprecedented heights. A well developed aviation infrastructure which can meet the rapidly rising demand of new passengers is a critical must for the industry to flourish. Turkey has that capacity, as the two international airports in Istanbul; Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen, has managed to handle a total of incoming and outgoing 60 million passengers by 2012 numbers. The growing demand led the authorities to seek for a third airport to Istanbul which's construction has already started and once completed, expected to handle an additional 100 million people on an annual basis. That would immensely enhance Istanbul's capacity to serve as an international transfer hub.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Legal Framework

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) serves as the regulatory body in the Turkish civil aviation industry. Following the decision to open up the Turkish civilian aviation industry to private sector, it had started to regulate the Turkish civilian aviation market actively. The body has recently implemented critical changes in the regulatory framework in order to ensure the success of the growing Turkish civil aviation industry. It has signed a Comprehensive Collaboration protocol with the Higher Education Board of Turkey to meet the demand for better educated qualified staff in the aviation industry. By the protocol Higher Education Board of Turkey pledged to establish departments and design a curricula for the specific needs of the civilian aviation industry. Moreover it legislated for the establishment of Green Airports to ensure both passenger satisfaction and compliance with the environmental laws as well as issued directives for more and better online services like e-state applications and revenue tracking system.


The Turkish case demonstrates well the necessary components for a successful growth of the civilian aviation industry. The global economic environment is important for the civilian aviation industry, as it is critical for the general climate of business elsewhere. However by itself the global economic growth is not enough to trigger a growth for the aviation industry. It must be supplemented by a well maintained nationwide aviation infrastructure and a sizeable domestic and international market. As the Turkish case illustrates an advantageous geographical location might serve well for the industry to increase the number of passengers through transit flights but the picture should be completed with a clear headed regulatory body aiming not only to regulate the sector but also to increase the standards of civilian aviation in the country. Turkey, by its efforts in all these directions had managed to create a story of growth and success in its civilian aviation industry.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Safak Herdem
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