The Istanbul Sabiha Gokchen International Airport (ISG), operated and owned by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), is wooing national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd in the hope of receiving flights from Malaysia into the Turkish airport.
ISG ED Datuk Azmi Murad said the airport has been in constant talks with Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia Bhd to consider the ISG for its Istanbul route.
“They are studying. They may have their own considerations (about flying to ISG) and priority,” he said in Istanbul recently.
ISG is one of two international airports in Istanbul. The other airport in the Turkish capital is the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. The third airport, Istanbul Grand Airport, is currently under construction.
ISG currently serves over 50 international airlines. It serves about 40 domestic networks.
The major carriers in ISG now include Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines.
ISG has the capacity to handle 33 million passengers annually.
Expressing optimism to see a Malaysian carrier flying into ISG, Azmi said: “I will continue to talk to them (Malaysia carrier) and pursue them.”
He said ISG has been pursuing to bring in more international airlines to the airport.
ISG CEO Ersel Goral reported that Dubai-based Emirates would launch its flight to ISG in April 2018. Emirates will have daily flights out of Dubai, operating using a Boeing 777.
He also said there are ongoing talks between ISG and several airlines from Europe and the Middle East.
Azmi, who is currently residing in Istanbul, said there are also plans for Malaysia-made products to have a presence at ISG.
“It will be such a shame if we don’t promote Malaysia-made products, using this asset (ISG) belonging to Malaysia,” he said.
A Malaysian-based franchise group, including fast-food chain Marrybrown, recently visited ISG to explore partnership opportunities with Turkish players.
A group of Malaysia-based companies, under the umbrella of the Malaysian Islamic Chamber of Commerce, also visited ISG with the intention of promoting beauty and healthcare products at the airport.
Azmi said ISG could instal a kiosk dedicated to Malaysian products to promote tourism products among travellers with the aim of luring more tourists to Malaysia.
He is also toying with the idea of bringing in Malaysia-made frozen “roti canai” and curry puffs to Turkey.
“People might say Turkish people may not like our food, but it’s a matter of exposing them to our menu. Once they develop a taste for them, they will accept it,” he said. — Bernama