Wednesday, May 16, 2018

From Turkey, with love: How Celebi Aviation landed in India

It is rare to find people shaping their careers out of their interests and hobbies. Even rarer are those who do it successfully. Canan Celebioglu, Board Member of the Turkish ground handling company Celebi Aviation Holding Inc, is one such person.

As a child, she was fascinated by what Herman Hesse wrote about Asia. She was equally fascinated by Mahatma Gandhi’s writings. “He fought for the freedom of the country based on his belief. I am also stubborn just as he was. If I believe in something I like to push to make it happen. If there is something that you believe in, then it is easy to convince others also about it,” she tells BusinessLine.

Not that it was easy for Celebioglu to convince her company to look at business interests in India. Celebi was started by her father in 1958. He passed away in 1982 when she was 16 and her brother was 19. The siblings took over the company.

When Celebi, which today provides ground handling services in Turkey, India, Austria and Hungary and also cargo and warehouse facilities in Turkey, Hungary, India and Germany, started looking at expansion, it had eyes on India, China and Brazil as it felt that they were going to develop and be important world economies. Brazil was very far from Turkey, so that was not such a viable option.

Celebioglu was keen on India but others in Celebi were not. “Most of the company members said ‘we do not want to go to India as it is too risky, too crowded and too dirty.’ I said that is your choice; if you do not go, you leave the company,” she laughs.

Celebioglu was persistent and she did manage to convince the others. However, success didn’t exactly come knocking. Celebi was approached by an American construction company keen to participate in the privatisation of Hyderabad airport but they lost the bid.
16/05/18 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line