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TOPIC: airline industry


Turkish Airlines, Erdogan's Ultimate Soft Power Weapon

In the last 20 years, Turkish Airlines’ rapid development has shocked its competitors. The carrier is generating substantial profits, while serving the interests of the Turkish state.

ISTANBUL — A young pilot takes off in a biplane reminiscent of the interwar period. He lands on an asphalt runway and parks alongside Boeing 737s. On the tarmac, another pilot in a contemporary uniform greets him and escorts him into a gleaming airport lined with Asian stewardesses and passengers.

A screen announces a departure for Lusaka (Zambia). "All these nationalities and destinations..." marvels the young pilot, scanning a flight display panel. "Of course, we're the airline that flies to the largest number of countries in the world," replies the proud modern-day pilot.

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This scene, taken from a commercial broadcast last June, celebrates the 90th anniversary of Turkish Airlines, the country's national carrier. Founded in 1933, the airline's history is, in many respects, remarkable. With service to 129 countries, it is the carrier with the most international connections in the world, 9 countries ahead of second-placed Air France-KLM.

In the span of 20 years, Turkish Airlines has become a major player in the global airline industry, with seemingly unstoppable expansion. Having extended its network to the European, North American, Middle Eastern and African markets, the Turkish carrier has set its sights on India and Asia.

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