Turkey: The Impact Of Competition Law On Aviation Industry

Last Updated: 5 February 2016
Article by Serap Zuvin and Lotus Tuzun

Competition law is an area of law that seeks to maintain the competition in the market. The aim of competition law and Turkish Competition Authority ("Authority") accordingly is to prevent agreements, decisions and practices preventing, distorting or restricting competition in the market. The main reason for this is to protect the consumers because competition brings out more qualified service and good along with affordable prices. Competition creates diversity in the market which makes people's lives easier by giving them the right to choose.  If the undertakings make secret agreements such as fixing the market price or sharing the market then the consumers have no chance to choose between the goods and services. Thus, those kind of agreements between the companies are forbidden by the Authority. The aviation industry in Turkey started in 1933 with the establishment of Turkish Airlines ("THY").[1] THY, a public corporation and national flag carrier, has a core importance in the market and had been a monopoly until 1990 and is still holding its powerful position among other enterprises since then.[2] In 1990, liberalization of the Turkish aviation industry has been kicked off by the new airline enterprises entering into the market such as Pegasus, Sunexpress and Onur Airlines and therefore protection of THY from the competition by the government policies has been concluded. Along with the liberalization of the market and emergence of the new airline enterprises, competition finally has started in this area.[3] According to the statistics of 2015, Turkey's aviation industry involves 55 airports[4], 489 aircraft[5] and 150 million passengers with a %14 growth rate in the last decade.[6]

Competition Law Violation in the "Air"

Turkey does not have a specific competition regulation concerning aviation industry and Turkish Competition Act ("Act")[7] is the main source to resort on this matter. Along with the increased competition in the aviation market after 2000s, cartels between the enterprises started to occur. To give an example, in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2009 Condor Flugdienst GmbH Airlines ("Condor") and SunExpress Airlines ("SunExpress") fixed the prices of Turkey – Germany flights through some secret agreements.[8] In November 2009, Authority conducted an investigation on these two enterprises and in October 2011 a penalty was imposed against those enterprises. However, since SunExpress declared its regret to the Authority and made conciliation through helping them in the process of investigation, SunExpress recovered from the fine. Condor also declared its regret but it was a late application so the Authority did not cancel the fine but reduced the same by 50%.[9] Horizontal agreements which are made for market sharing, price determination etc. are considered as substantial core breaches according to the competition law. Important point in this issue is that, these agreements do not have to affect the market specifically in order to be considered as a breach. The mere existence of the agreement is enough to get a penalty from the Authority, so the Authority only investigates on an existing agreement not on its effects.

Hard to Compete for: Slots

Airport slot rights are given by the airport operator to the airline enterprises in order them to schedule their landings and departures for a specific time period. Experienced airline companies, which have already reserved their slots for one period, have grandfather rights on these slots. These grandfather rights give such airline companies the right to reuse the slots that they have used in the previous period.[10] According to "use it or lose it policy", airlines only lose their grandfather rights, if they do not use the most part of their reserved slots in the previous period. On the other hand, when entering the aviation market, it is important for new enterprises to execute short and more frequent flights in order for them to compete and survive within the market.[11] However, even though the aviation market is getting bigger and bigger, many airports are not big enough and very busy in terms of the slots for the new airline companies. For all these reasons, ineffective operation of the slot systems in the aviation industry downgrades the competition in the market. In Turkey, the slot system is still not being executed with the right competitive rules and the reliability of the slot system is questionable. Slots had been coordinated by THY from 1993 to 2005. After 2005, Slot Coordination Center within the General Directorate of Civil Aviation ("GDCA") has executed the slot practice and after 2010, the execution of the slot practice was given to State Airports Authority ("SAA").[12] Hence, the strong relationship between SAA and THY puts some questions in minds about the competitiveness of the market. It is important for slot practice to be given to an independent and objective institution in Turkey in order to increase sufficiency of the competitive landscape.[13]

More Competition Brings More Quality in the Air

Aviation industry in Turkey is still developing; in order to keep the development alive in this market, a competition law regulation focusing on the aviation industry should be prepared by having the opinions of the nongovernmental and governmental organizations and jurists who are experts in this area. When competition is involved, enterprises get better at what they do such as THY honored Turkey by being chosen the best airline of Europe for the last 5 years.[14] Since the uniqueness of the market requires specific competition regulations applied by liberal policies, EU competition law regulations on aviation sector should be adopted by Turkey. 

[1] http://mdk.anadolu.edu.tr/sites/mdk.anadolu.edu.tr/files/files/6.pdf


[3] https://earsiv.anadolu.edu.tr/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11421/398/448248.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

[4] http://www.dhmi.gov.tr/havaalanlari.aspx

[5] http://web.shgm.gov.tr/tr/kurumsal/4547-istatistikler

[6] http://www.atig.com.tr/arastirma/raporlar/tr/havayolu-sektor-raporu-17-02-2015-09-33-17.pdf

[7] Competition Law dated December 7, 1994 and numbered 4054, published in the Official Gazette dated December 13, 1994 and numbered 22140.

[8] 11-54/1431-507 numbered and 27.10.2011 dated Turkish Competition Authority decision / http://www.rekabet.gov.tr/File/?path=ROOT%2f1%2fDocuments%2fGerek%25c3%25a7eli%2bKurul%2bKarar%25c4%25b1%2fkarar4819.pdf

[9] Turkish Competition Authority decisions can be found in its website: http://www.rekabet.gov.tr/

[10] http://www.rekabet.gov.tr/tr-TR/Rekabet-Yazisi/Turk-Havayolu-Tasimaciligi-Sektorunde-Adalet-Problemi-Slot-Tahsisleri


[12] http://www.rekabet.gov.tr/tr-TR/Rekabet-Yazisi/Turk-Havayolu-Tasimaciligi-Sektorunde-Adalet-Problemi-Slot-Tahsisleri

[13] http://www.rekabet.gov.tr/tr-TR/Rekabet-Yazisi/Turk-Havayolu-Tasimaciligi-Sektorunde-Adalet-Problemi-Slot-Tahsisleri

[14] http://www.turkishairlines.com/tr-tr/kurumsal/basin-odasi/oduller

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Serap Zuvin
Lotus Tuzun
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions