By Patrick Kagenda
Orhan Subay is the Director of the newly established Turkish Airlines Uganda office. The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda
How do you start your day?
Turkish Airlines flies to Entebbe three times in a week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. On these days I wake up at 4:30am and go to Entebbe Airport to ensure that everything is moving according to schedule and is in order. I come back home between 1:30 am and 2:00 am the next day. I take a shower, sleep and I wake up at 10 am.
Because I am the only person manning my airline office in Uganda I work approximately 20 hours a day.
Because this is our beginning on the Ugandan route, things are hard but after three to four months everything will be okay.
What challenges do you face?
The biggest challenge is that people here promise to do things but end up not doing them. They change their word all the time which ends up costing you a lot of time.
The other challenge is the traffic jam on the roads. I once spent four hours in a traffic jam when coming from Entebbe to Kampala. We need new roads to ease the traffic jam.
Because of the traffic jam on the roads, people are losing a lot of money in time wasted in the traffic jam.
How are you resolving these challenges?
I hope these challenges will be resolved as the country grows. In regard to Turkish Airlines, the head office in Istanbul has approved that I hire a station manager who is going to be located at our station in Entebbe.
What new thing is the Turkish airline bringing onto the Ugandan air travel industry?
Turkish Airlines in the last three years made very good profits. When we launched our Uganda route we were charging US$249 per round trip. We are now having a new package of US$399 round trip for Istanbul and the whole of Europe. Our entry onto the Ugandan market will revolutionise the air travel industry by bringing down air travel rates which are high in the region. We are trying to ensure that we fly 100 percent low factor. This is where you have a 100 percent seat capacity fully booked. We are going to encourage early bookings to attain our low factor target. In aviation it is the demand that determines the prices. With more demand prices go up. Through earlier bookings we will remain the cheapest all the time but when you book late you pay more. Through the introduction of early bookings we hope to attain the 100 percent low factor. We plan to become the lowest cost airline in the market but of high quality services. Through this system we will be able to beat the competition. We shall also be offering free services to our passengers who will be transiting through Istanbul including accommodating those who will be spending over 10 hours in transit.
How will you contribute to the economy?
We are here to bring business to the Ugandan economy. The Ugandan president has been calling on the Turkish investors to come to Uganda and with our being here we want to see a win-win situation. There are Turkish schools operating in Uganda and with our flights coming to Uganda it will become very easy for our business people to come and start joint business ventures with the Ugandan people. Our coming has been followed by the opening of our embassy which will handle the issuing of visas. We also have plans of opening a route to Kinshasa, in the DRC. However because of some problems we are planning to stop the Entebbe to Daresaalam route and open the Nairobi to Entebbe route. We want to have a very strong presence in Africa, south of the Sahara where we have not been all that active. We have in the last six years been growing at 20 percent every year and in order to maintain this growth you have to open new destinations.
What inspired you to join an airline company?
I am an industrial engineer by profession from the Eastern Technical University– one of the best universities in Turkey. I never thought I’d work in an airline company because my thoughts were to work with production companies like Toyota, Isuzu, Mercedes Benz, or light goods manufactures like television or refrigerator companies because in Turkey we have very many big companies. I first worked with Microsoft Company in Turkey for six months before I went to the USA to join my brother in Los Angeles, then the Turkish airline spotted me and offered me a job in the production and planning department.
What is your style to successful management?
The modern contemporary management you have to trust your staff and you have to share responsibility. The sharing of responsibility motivates and creates trust in the staff. I believe in teamwork and not being the boss all the time. People are not machines but humans who have different feelings and emotions. People need to be respected to get the best out of them. I admire Sir Branson of Virgin Airlines. He is a man right down to earth regardless of his wealth. He dresses in the simplest of ways, a jean trouser and jacket, no ties and coats. My philosophy is, ‘I will burn in my own fire’.