Istanbul - A press briefing hosted by Turkish Airlines became heated on Wednesday when journalists from across Africa questioned the carrier's clear stance on the July coup attempts.
Chairman Ilker Ayci came under fire while briefing journalists from Africa and Asia, particularly for his anti-coup position.
Turkish Airlines is of course Turkey's flag carrier, with government owning 49.12 percent and the rest “free float”.
However, Ayci defended his stance from a patriotic position stating that those responsible for the coup attempt had not only sought to attack government, but citizens, democracy, and business too.
“They wanted civil war,” he said.
“We lost our friends and we lost our people, innocent people,” said an impassioned Ayci.
“But we didn't lose our independence. We didn't lose our country, our democracy, and our will to live together.”
Ayci went on to say he needed to speak on the coup attempt as it had affected Turkish Airlines' staff and profitability.
“There is information pollution about us,” said Ayci via a translator.
He confirmed that Turkish Airlines had taken a knock financially and in terms of staff numbers due to the coup attempt. The weekend after the July 15 and 16 attempt, the United States cancelled all Turkish Airlines flights until Homeland Security reopened its borders the following Monday.
In terms of staff, all those found to have had involvement in the coup attempt were fired.
Ayci said while finances had taken a knock, they were ready begin again in 2017.
For now, Ayci called on passengers to trust in the airline's ability to keep them safe.
“We will host you in the skies and we will host you on land,” he said.
Ayci added that Turkey and Africa shared “common ground” when it came to the July coup attempt.
“What happened in our country may happen in yor country,” said Ayci.
“We are trying to share with you that kind of pain that we had,” he said.
We are saying to you, be careful for them. They could be mediators for coup attempts in your country.