Turkish Airlines has become dominated by graduates of a religious high school in Istanbul that was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, Turkish left-wing daily Sözcü reported on Wednesday.
Nearly 80 members of the national flag carrying airline’s administration, including two members of the board of directors and the top members of the human resources department, graduated from the Kartal İmam Hatip High School, Sözcü’s report said.
The imam hatip schools were originally opened to train government-employed imams, but they have been heavily subsidised as an alternative to standard state secondary schools under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has its roots in Turkey’s political Islamist movement.
The era of Kartal İmam Hatip High School graduates in Turkish Airlines began after Mehmet İlker Aycı, a former aide to the president, was appointed as the airline’s board chairman in 2015, Sözcü said. A report from the same newspaper in 2016 called Aycı a close friend of Bilal Erdoğan.
Two members of Kartal’s alumni, Arda Ermut and Ogün Şanlıer have seats on the airline’s board alongside Aycı.
Ermut graduated from the school in 1999, the same year as Bilal Erdoğan. Abdülkerim Çay and Ahmet Olmuştur, two assistant general managers, and Ebubekir Akgül, the head of human resources, graduated from the high school in the same year, Sözcü’s report said.
Among the other high-ranking graduates of Kartal at the airline are press undersecretary Yahya Üstün and Rafet Fatih Özgür, the head of advertising, it said.