September 11, 2013

It is an economy that has continued to grow despite the the Eurozone’s economic crisis. It has one of the youngest populations in the world, and as a business aviation market, it is virtually untapped. Welcome to Turkey.

“It’s a nascent market, still in its infancy,” said Fabio Gamba, CEO of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). “That makes it so interesting to us, because there we see a remarkable level of youth and enthusiasm.”

Gamba suggested there are both challenges and opportunities for business aircraft operators in Turkey, pointing to the vast number of potential users in a market that has yet to be fully explored by the industry.

“We’re talking about a country of 75 million people,” he said. “That’s big in terms of European countries. The rate of population growth is twice what it is in the EU. That makes the youthful nature of the Turkish market its real promise for the future.”

But while social and economic factors are favorable to an exploration of business aviation opportunities in Turkey, Gamba also pointed to challenges he believes can be overcome through increased dialogue. For instance, he noted, the lack of open sky agreements between Turkey and the rest of the European Union presents one obstacle to the industry’s growth in Turkey.

“There are bilateral agreements, so there is the framework for a growing relationship. Going to Turkey would help both sides understand that enhancing this cooperation is long overdue,” Gamba said.

That is one major reason why on Oct. 10 and 11 in Istanbul, EBAA will stage a regional forum called “Destination Turkey: A Powerful Hub for the Rising Euro/Asian Economy.”

“We hope to invite a lot of high-level policy makers and begin talks on the legal and political barriers that perhaps officials on both sides (EU and Turkey) have not yet considered. We want to involve business aircraft operators who can talk about what it would take to make them more interested in Turkey as a point of operations,” said Gamba.

Sessions featured at the summit include analyses of the Turkish aviation market and whether the country can become an engine of growth for business expectations, whether Turkey and the EU can bridge regulatory issues and the environment in Turkey for aircraft transactions (in light of current financial and tax law).

“Turkey certainly has a wonderful infrastructure for aviation,” Gamba said. “They have beautiful airports run by TAV Airports Holding, which has a number of airport holdings throughout Europe and beyond. That goes a long way toward making Europeans feel more at home.”

He pointed out that a new airport had been recently built in Ankara, and a third major airport is under consideration for Istanbul. Gamba also said he hopes dialog sparked by the October summit might lead to development of a new business aviation terminal in Istanbul.

Gamba said the goal for attendance at the upcoming forum is approximately 150 decision-makers and policy leaders.

“If we can reach a certain critical mass, it might facilitate a highly useful message to leaders of both Turkey and the EU,” he said.