The First Post reports on Turkey's Islamist AKP party taking over the airline, and the effect it's had on aircrew training and aircraft maintenance. The article is somewhat misleadingly titled 'Islam and the art of aircraft maintenance', but most of the airline's problems described in the article center around the cronyism associated with the AKP party's rise to power and its influence on the national airline. Those political issues can happen with any political party when an industry is nationalized (just imagine if the Democrats had control of America's big three airlines, for example), but this part brought me up short:
He reiterated the claim that cronyism - and ostensible piety - seemed to govern hiring decisions. "During former managerial times we had Christmas parties. Now in that department they're praying with copies of the Koran. The management building now contains significantly more people who are praying, especially on Fridays.Now, if they stop training their pilots to land the planes, there's a big problem.
"When they go for the noon prayer, they don't sign themselves out, even though you're supposed to do that even if you go to the bathroom."
He is not alone in making such claims. In the wake of the crash, a source at Turkish Airlines - someone who has nothing to gain by noting this publicly and, in fact, everything to lose - claimed that airplanes requiring pre-flight inspection go shortchanged if they are on the ground in the mornings at prayer time.
And in December, 2006, it was widely reported that Turkish Airlines workers had sacrificed a camel on an Istanbul airport ramp as a gesture of thanks for having at last got rid of a batch of troublesome planes.