İlker Aycı is a Turkish businessperson who was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Air India in 2022.
Mehmet İlker Aycı was born in 1971 (age 51 years; as of 2022), and he hails from Istanbul, Turkey. In 1994, he graduated from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, earning a degree in Political Science and Public Administration. After his graduation, he served as a researcher in the Department of Political Sciences at Leeds University in Leeds, England. Later, he pursued an International Relations Master’s programme at the Marmara University in Istanbul.
On 19 November 2018, Ayci got married to Tuğçe Saatman, a lawyer and sports commentator, at Esma Sultan Mansion in Istanbul. Apparently, the couple first met in 2016 during an interview.
After his graduation in 1994, he served at various positions in the pharmaceutical company Kurtsan Ilaclari A.S., Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and Universal Dis Ticaret A.S. Aycı has also served as an advisor to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a Turkish politician who served as the 12th president of Turkey. In 2005, he assumed the position of general manager in the Turkish insurance company Basak Groupama Sigorta A.S., where he worked for a year. From 2006 to 2011, he served as a general manager in the Turkey-based insurance company Gunes Sigorta AS. In January 2011, Aycı became the chairman of The Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT), an organisation that promotes investment opportunities to the global business community in Turkey by providing assistance to investors. In 2013, he became the vice president of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), where he was elevated to the position of chairman in January 2014. From 2015 to 2022, he served as the chairman of Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, succeeding Hamdi Topçu. Before being elevated to the position of chairman, Aycı served as an executive board member of the airline. He has held the positions of a board member and chairman in various organisations like the Insurance Association of Turkey, Foreign Economic Relations Board – Turkey China Business Council, Vakif Emeklilik A.S., and Vakif Bank Gunes Sigorta Sports Club (Champion of 2008 Europe Challange Cup). After the approval of the re-privatization of Air India, the airline was sold by the Government of India to its founder, the Tata Group, in 2021. Following its re-privatization, on 14 February 2022, the airline appointed İlker Aycı as its new CEO and Managing Director, who is supposed to take the charge on or before 1 April 2022.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- On 21 December 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented an award to Ilker Ayci during Turkey’s 500 Largest Service Exporters Award Ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey.
- At APEX/IFSA Expo 2021, Aycı received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his achievements, contributions, and dedication to the airline industry.
- In 2021, M. İlker Aycı was presented with the 3rd Class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by Japanese Ambassador Suzuki Kazuhiro. Aycı is the sixth Turk to be awarded the Japanese State Order.
- He is fluent in the languages Turkish, English, and Russian.
- In January 2022, İlker Aycı and his wife, who were in Kazakhstan for a special visit, got stranded in Almaty due to the termination of flights owing to the internal turmoil in the country, returned to Turkey via a cargo plane of Turkish Airlines. A protest had broken out against the Kazakhstan government due to lifting up of price cap on fuel, which hiked up the cost of liquefied petroleum gas, the fuel used by the majority of the population in the country to run their vehicles. Almaty, where the presidential residence and the mayor’s office were burned by the raging Kazakhs, was the epicentre of the protest. After Aycı and his wife’s return, he was criticised for leaving behind his teammates during the escape, which he reported as a security measure.
- While İlker Aycı was serving as the chairman of Turkish Airlines, it was chosen “Europe’s Best Airline” for the 6th year in a row at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2016.