Friday, December 15, 2006

Turkish Airlines "Sacrifices" for Maintenance Efficiency

In a bid to motivate his mechanics, the head of Turkish Airlines' Airplane Maintenance Facility, Mr. Sukru Can, vowed to sacrifice a camel in their honor if they met a maintenance deadline. The airline had been experiencing myriad technical difficulties with one type of aircraft, the British made RJ100, and needed to get all planes of this model ready for shipment back to the manufacturer. No stranger to motivational psychology, Mr. Can (pronounced "John"), promised to "cut a camel" right on the tarmac at Istanbul's Atatürk International Airport if all the airplanes, by a specified date, were made ready for return. The maintenance staff responded heroically, and in celebration, the camel was delivered to his fate in the back of a truck. Atatürk Airport is, effectively, Turkey's gateway to the world, and one can only hope that the slaughter and subsequent quartering were clearly visible to arriving passengers. ("Welcome to Turkey," as it were.)

To me, the strangest part of the story is that airport security were furious not because Mr. Can had engaged in animal sacrfice on the grounds of the airport, but because he had deceived them as to the type of sacrifice he intended to carry out. He had told them that he would be butchering a ram on the tarmac, when in fact, his intended victim had always been a camel:

"The police headquarters at Atatürk Airport had this to comment on the incident: "We did not realize they were sacrificing a camel. We, thinking that they were going to sacrifice a ram, didn't think it would look good to have a ram walking out the doors of the airport and to the apron, so we gave permission for it to be driven there. But in fact there had been no permission received from the Goods Management Headquarters. The head of the Airplane Maintenance Facility lied to us about this."

Well, who wouldn't be outraged? (Is it normal at Atatürk Airport to sacrifice rams on the tarmac? Why have I never noticed this before?)

According to Hurriyet (English Language edition), Mr. Can has been relieved of his position.

Speaking about the "camel sacrifice" incident with reporters yesterday, Transportation Minister Yildirim had this to say:

"It is wrong to blame an entire organization for a mistake made by one colleague whose mind is still in the past. The necessary orders have been given in the wake of this incident, and that colleague has been removed from his job. The investigation is continuing. Sacrificing a camel is not a talent. It is more important that Turkish Airlines carries out its job well, and works on addressing any complaints that citizens using it might have. Which is why it is not fair to compare this giant, well-established company with a couple of tactless mistakes that might have been made. The important thing is that the necessary measures have been taken."

In all fairness to Turkish Airlines, I have to say that it is my carrier of choice when making the interminable haul between Turkey and the States. The food is good (well, for airline food it's good), the booze is free (a big plus on an 11 hour flight), and the transcontinental aircraft are all Airbus made (one wonders about the problems with this RJ100).

Is Mr. Can being "sacrificed" to an increasingly bloodless corporate mentality?

No comments: