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October, 22, 2016

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Turkish Airlines builds Istanbul into a transit hub to the African continent

In an effort to boost market share, Turkish Airlines is building its transfer business, in which passengers from China can change planes in Istanbul, said a company executive.

The Istanbul-based company has been tailoring travel routes to the African continent to win Chinese tourists, said Ma Lin, sales manager of Turkish Airlines China.

The shift in sales strategy came after Turkish tourism plunged as the country was affected by terrorist attacks and political turbulence in the first half of the year, according to Ma.

"It has exerted some impact on the business in China at that time, but it is manageable," said Ma.

The company has started recommending African countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco, as destinations. Chinese passengers flying to Africa with Turkish Airlines can reach 48 destinations in 27 countries.

The airlines' seat occupancy, according to Ma, was 85 percent in September, higher than the industry average, and the passenger base was solid, fueled by the outbound travel frenzy during China's seven-day National Day (Oct 1-7) holiday.

Ma said sales in October and November in China are expected to be stable.

Tourism in African countries has plenty of room for growth, compared with that in mature markets like Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan and South Korea, said Romeo Tai, North China representative with travel agency Comfort Travel & Investment Services (Pty) Ltd.

Tai said the number of Chinese traveling to South Africa would increase significantly in the fourth quarter.

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