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Turkey’s civil aviation boss to take helm at Turkish Airlines

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By Ercan Gurses and Ceyda Caglayan ANKARA/ISTANBUL, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The head of Turkey’s civil aviation authority, Bilal Eksi, will take over as chief executive of Turkish Airlines after the carrier’s current boss resigned on Friday for a new role in the aerospace industry, a government official said. Eksi, an engineer who held senior positions at the airline before moving to the civil aviation authority in 2011, takes the helm at a challenging time, with a weak lira, falling tourism numbers and stiff competition taking their toll on profits.

“The government is planning to appoint Bilal Eksi as the new chief executive. We expect the decision to be taken today,” the official told Reuters in Ankara. Asked about the departure of outgoing chief executive Temel Kotil, a Turkish Airlines spokesman said the issue would be discussed at a board meeting later on Friday, but declined to comment further.

Kotil, an aeronautical engineer who had been in charge of the airline since 2005, quit after agreeing to take on a new role as head of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), according to the Hurriyet Daily News. “I have taken the decision to leave Turkish Airlines as I have been offered a new post related to aerospace and space technologies,” he was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying in a farewell message to staff. Turkish Airlines, part state-owned, has been one of the world’s fastest-growing carriers in recent years, but it reported a loss of 1.9 billion lira (£617 million) in the first half of this year, reflecting the impact of costs due to forex fluctuations, declines in tourist numbers and growing competition in the sector.

Its passenger numbers nonetheless rose almost 4 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of the year, partly due to transit passengers, despite attacks by Islamic State and Kurdish militants in Turkey and a failed military coup in July. Eksi, born in 1968, previously held senior roles in the technical division of Turkish Airlines and helped oversee the reorganisation of Cyprus Turkish Airlines between 2009-2010, according to the civil aviation authority (DGCA) website. At the end of last year, Turkish Airlines had a fleet of 299 aircraft including 10 cargo planes and the world’s fourth largest flight network, according to its website.

It flies to 235 international destinations in 113 countries, giving it greater country coverage than any other airline in the world. (Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Keith Weir and Adrian Croft)

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