The former defense minister of Turkey claimed during a parliamentary committee meeting on Friday that the Turkish government had the local representative of Airbus, the largest aerospace multinational in Europe, replaced, saying it was done through lobbying and backstage influence.
In his first meeting as chairman of the parliamentary Defense Committee, Hulusi Akar, who unexpectedly lost his position as minister since he was not included in the post-election cabinet by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shared information about an aircraft maintenance facility jointly established with Airbus in his hometown of Kayseri.
Minutes of the parliamentary committee meeting:komisyon_tutanaklari Milli savunma
While discussing the factory, Akar also shared an interesting detail about the management of Airbus in Turkey. Akar indicated that the government had not been satisfied with the former representative of Airbus.
Akar stated that the Turkish government got the representative of Airbus in Turkey replaced by utilizing its diplomatic clout, saying, “There was a German representative, but fortunately, we replaced him with a British representative through backstage lobbying.”
In 2021 Airbus appointed a new representative to Turkey, with Simon Ward becoming the president of Airbus Turkey.
In 2019 the Turkish government and Airbus signed an agreement to build a joint facility in Kayseri for the retrofitting of A400M aircraft. Initially, the facility was designated for the retrofitting of seven A400M transport planes; maintenance and repairs have been completed on four aircraft to date. With this project, Turkey became only the fourth country in the world to have an approved A400M maintenance, repair and retrofitting center. Thanks to the project, there is no longer a need to send the Turkish Air Force’s A400M aircraft abroad for retrofitting, and it also opens up the possibility of bringing A400M aircraft from other countries to Kayseri for retrofitting and maintenance. Turkish Air Force currently has nine A400M aircraft in its fleet.
On May 2 Akar attended a ceremony for the completion of work on the fourth aircraft and its delivery to the Turkish Air Force. Ward, who attended the ceremony, praised the success of the project and congratulated the teams in Kayseri.
During the committee meeting, Akar revealed that Ward had highlighted the early completion of Turkey’s retrofitting and its cost-effectiveness compared to other retrofit centers within Airbus. According to Akar, Airbus is planning to send more aircraft to Kayseri in the future due to higher labor costs in Europe.
Akar did not provide specific details regarding the issues the government faced with the former representative of Airbus.
The Erdogan government has exerted pressure on foreign companies operating in Turkey to work with Turkish suppliers affiliated with businesspeople close to it.
In 2020 Airbus was sanctioned by a UK court and ordered to pay a record-breaking £3 billion in fines. The company admitted to using agents around the world to bribe officials in order to secure high-value contracts including with Turkey.
Airbus has developed a significant partnership with Turkey, engaging in close collaboration with key entities including Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, the Ministry of Defense, the Presidency of the Defense Industry (Savunma Sanayii Başkanlığı, SSB), the Turkish Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard. Turkish Airlines first began operating the the Airbus A310 in 1985, while the Turkish Air Force received the former EADS CASA CN235 in 1991. In 2003 Turkey also became a partner in the Airbus A400M Atlas program, further solidifying the cooperation between the two. Moreover, Airbus Defence and Space accomplished a notable achievement in 2021 by successfully launching two telecommunications satellites, TURKSAT-5A and 5B, further enhancing the scope of Airbus-Turkey collaboration in the aviation industry.