Speaker Profile: Ali Sabanci of Pegasus Airlines

On Wednesday we had the pleasure of visiting Pegasus Airlines, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, Turkey’s first low-cost carrier, and brainchild of CBS alum Ali Sabanci.

Mr. Sabanci is the charismatic Chairman of Pegasus Airlines and a proud member of Sabanci Family, a wealthy Turkish dynasty. He attended Tufts University as an undergrad, worked at Morgan Stanley for 2 years and then attended CBS. After graduation he moved back to Turkey to join the family business, starting as a teller in the family owned bank, Akbank, before purchasing Pegasus airlines for around $12m (apparently less than what Ali paid for his house!).

The decision to initially re-join the family company in a customer-facing position demonstrates Ali’s strong commitment to understanding the customer. In fact, Ali credits much of the success of Pegasus Airlines to knowing what is really important to the consumer – safe, reliable flights to multiple domestic and international destinations (and not free food or other perks which are provided by key competitor, Turkish Airlines).

Ali also asserts that his company’s key competitive advantage is a supportive “low cost” culture driven by strategic incentives (including a 10% profit sharing scheme) and an overarching philosophy that employees are “family members” and customers should be treated as “guests.”

Additionally, Ali stressed the importance of hiring and working with those that “know more than you do” and maintaining independence from the family company.

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