Airlines can try to reverse a poor reputation by spending a fortune on new liveries, glossy advertising and new aircraft and then, rather too quickly, a chance remark reminds the world that not so much has changed.
Turkish Airlines had a shocking reputation for safety and service and, to its credit, it has improved though not as much as it needs to. They are definitely not an airline that should be handing out advice to Lufthansa on how to train pilots.
The CEO of the airline, Temel Kotil, apparently has the Germanwings crash all sorted out. “The crash happened after the pilot broke up with his girlfriend” he said in an interview with a Turkish magazine, which is why Turkish Airlines “encourages” its pilots to marry. He also said that his airline was anxious to recruit more female pilots for the same reason.
He is clearly a man of many talents. Not only the CEO of an airline but a world-class psychiatrist as well. Those who have studied the issue of depression will no doubt be fascinated to hear Mr Kotil’s thesis that depression affects single men so much more more than married men or women.
Suggesting that pilots should be “encouraged” to marry has a slightly ominous tinge to it in the context of a country that is veering towards a form of Islamic dictatorship.
There has long been an understanding that airlines never comment publicly on the accidents of other companies. The CEO of Turkish Airlines needs to be forcibly reminded of this.
Meanwhile, these silly remarks are unlikely to make passengers travelling with Turkish Airlines feel any safer.