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Q&A: At the leading edge – Kadri Samsunlu

Kadri Samsunlu started as CEO of İGA Airport Operation (İstanbul Airport management) in September 2017
Kadri Samsunlu graduated from Boğaziçi University, Department of Economics in 1991, and completed his MBA at Missouri University. Starting his career as a financial analyst, he worked for various investment companies between 1995 and 2006, as a CEO and board member. He was engaged as investment and corporate finance consultant from 2006 until 2009 in Romania and Turkey. 
Between 2008 and 2017, he worked as Chief Financial Officer in Akfen Holding. Samsunlu assumed senior manager positions in energy, construction, tourism real estate, maritime transportation and airport operations sector. Samsunlu started as CEO of İGA Airport Operation (İstanbul Airport management) in September 2017.
What is the best and most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenge was that Istanbul Airport was a greenfield project built from scratch. Also, İGA as a company was newly founded to build and operate this airport. Establishing a brand-new team and ensuring that this team works together well was one of the most important and most demanding tasks. Furthermore, keeping good relations with the board of executive directors is highly important to coordinate İGA’s operations with all five shareholders.
The most challenging part right now is overseeing a massive company, now one of the biggest in Turkey. All plans that we make at the executive level must be well conceived and incorporate several eventualities. You have to be farsighted and communication has to be on point to achieve your goals in such a mega-project. But on the other hand, the best part about my job is seeing these plans become reality. In just 42 months our original plans have developed from a fallow mining wasteland into one 
of the biggest and most modern airports in the world, something we can be very proud of. Seeing Istanbul Airport as a beacon of pride for Turkey is the best part of my job.
The new Istanbul Airport partially opened in October last year. What have you learnt since that opening?
We started working with our largest customer, Turkish Airlines, and have learnt a lot about their expectations and responding to them. Also, we have used the time of limited operations to ask passengers about their experience so that we are aware of the possibilities for improvement. The surveyed travellers gave Istanbul Airport top marks for its functionality, service, design and facilities, but we are further striving to make Istanbul Airport an even greater experience for passengers. We have learnt that our efforts to create a unique atmosphere at Istanbul Airport, and to give travellers the best possible comfort, have been received very well, which strengthens our belief that our passenger experience concept is very well conceived. 
The airport fully opens in April 2019. What can the aviation industry expect to see?
The aviation industry will get a whole new centre of aviation. With 90 million passengers per year capacity, Istanbul Airport is a game changer. It will have the highest capacity of any airport in Europe, and will be amongst the biggest airports in the world. Istanbul Airport will be a new mega-hub, connecting Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, bringing the continents closer to each other. It’s an outstanding design, impeccable passenger experience, cutting-edge technology, and its environmental mindfulness will set new standards in the industry. Istanbul Airport will allow the global aviation sector to grow further and with a capacity that is expandable to up to 200 million passengers per year, it will pave the way for a new chapter in aviation. >>

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