Turkish Airlines chairman resigns

İlker Aycı resigned from his position as Turkish Airlines (THY) chairman, the flagship airline announced on Thursday.

THY board members Muzaffer Akpınar and Görkem Aksoy also resigned, according to THY’s notice on Turkey’s Public Disclosure Platform. Aksoy had been a pilot for the presidency.

Aycı had been appointed to the position in 2015. Under his lead, THY had recorded significant setbacks, reporting 17 billion liras ($1.25 billion) in net losses in 2020, according to daily BirGün.

Ahmet Bolat succeeded Aycı, while Şekib Avdagiç was appointed to the executive committee and the audit and risk early identification committees. Mehmet Kadaifçiler was appointed to the executive committee and as a member of the corporate governance committee, THY said in another announcement. Kadaifçiler was also appointed Chief Flight Operations Officer.

On Wednesday, Ali Kıdık from the centre-right opposition Good Party’s (İYİP) Istanbul chapter said Aycı had been asked to resign. “He will announce his resignation tomorrow at the board meeting,” Kıdık said.

Bolat is the brother of Ömer Bolat, former chairman of the conservative business group MÜSİAD and CEO for the costruction and mining giant Albayrak Group, Kıdık added.

On Thursday Kıdık continued to announce the resignation of THY Deputy General Director Baran Gülbaran, who he said was a relative of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan.

Gülbaran was the captain who flew THY’s rescue plane out of Kazakhstan during the unrest in Almati in early January. Aycı had also come under fire for returning to Turkey in a cargo plane, leaving behind THY crew as the airline temporarily suspended flights.

The former chairman had travelled to Kazakhstan shortly before huge wave of protests broke out over rising fuel prices.

“An interesting memory: (Aycı) spent New Year’s in Kazakhstan, analyst Kerim Has said in a tweet.

According to Has, Aycı first tried to return to Turkey on Jan. 5, “the day when the winds turned” on the protests, then refused to speak of the details of his visit and return. “Then he went back to Kazakshtan,” Has wrote.

In a live broadcast Aycı said he had been visiting his close friends who lived in the country, adding that Kazakh authorities had asked them to leave first, ahead of the crew. 

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