Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) reported a loss of 1.25 billion liras (207.9 million U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of the year.
However, the company is resolved to maintain its big ambitions for the future despite economic woes affecting the country.
The company said it would not pay shareholders a dividend from 2018, as a profit of 4.04 billion liras reported for last year turned into a loss when taking into account of differences between reporting standards.
THY’s first-quarter loss widened from 314 million liras in the first three months of 2018, as costs jumped and passenger growth stagnated, said financial data published by the company last week.
THY is seeing profits erode after a currency crisis ripped through Turkey’s financial markets last year, rendering foreign currency debts more expensive to pay and deterring more Turks from travelling.
However, experts said to Xinhua that in previous years, THY also reported deficit in the first quarter but managed to announce profits at the end of the year. For example, the net profit of the company jumped 533 percent year-on-year in 2018, totaling 1.2 billion U.S. dollars.
THY, owned by Turkey’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, carried 16.75 million passengers in the first quarter this year, a decrease of 0.1 percent in the same period a year earlier. Domestic passengers fell 4.7 percent while passengers on foreign routes rose 3.9 percent, it said in April.
Turkey’s most valuable company celebrated last week its anniversary. Having started its journey 86 years ago with only five aircraft with a capacity of just 28 seats in total, THY now has a fleet of 336 aircraft and flies to the most countries in the world.
Having expanded its flight network to 124 countries and 309 destinations, carrying 75 million passengers per year, the national flag carrier has made a new start by moving to its new home, Istanbul Airport, as of April 6.
However, Istanbul’s new mega hub airport is not without its problems, as reported by local media and frustrated passengers who detailed their bad experiences on social media.
Transit passengers especially elderly people complained of the long distances that they had to walk with their luggage between huge terminals in order to catch their flights.
To boost passenger moral, THY recently began offering free evening cruises on Istanbul’s Bosporus waterway to transit passengers, extending an existing program of cost-free city sightseeing, Daily Sabah reported.
In a move to prove that THY is expected to grow in future years, the company plans to hire up to 10,000 new personnel this year, Ilker Ayci, chairman of the company, told reporters.
“We currently have some 66,000 staff. We need additional personnel to improve quality after we moved our hub to the new airport. We will hire around 10,000 new employees this year,” he said.
The flag carrier announced in January that it aims to carry 80 million passengers in 2019. Last year, the company carried 75.2 million passengers with a seat occupancy rate of 82 percent, higher than most of the global airline companies.