Turkish Airlines Cabin Crew Suicides

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Turkey has one of the warmest and most welcoming cultures in the middle east.  The heart is Istanbul which is a vibrant center of western ideals, modern principles while still holding onto rich cultural traditions and diversity. It makes one wonder how this is happening in such a socially advanced part of the middle east ?

A Turkish Airlines flying chef committed suicide by hanging himself in a hotel room in New York.  According to the news source, the flight crew came to Long Island Marriott Hotel after landing in New York. All members of the crew went to their rooms for a rest. Ozmen didn’t join the crew for breakfast in the morning. Sources were told that the housekeeping found that Ozmen had hung himself up in the bathroom. The flying chef left the note, “Renounce your rights for me in this” (A blessing in Islam). The flying chef, Cumhur Ozmen, 28, was on duty at Turkish Airlines’ April 21, 2015. TK11 Istanbul-New York JFK flight, and hung himself in the hotel room where the crew was spending the night.

Just six months later this week TURKISH AIRLINES ‘ cabin crew committed suicide again in New York October 25, 2016. 17:40:59-TK News Turkish Airlines (THY). This time cabin crew Eda Ozdemir was found to have committed suicide in the same New York hotel as well.  According to the information acquired in the Airport Haber ‘; EDA Ozdemir was found dead by hanging in a hotel room.  EDA Olson’s body was located in the United States where other teammates were staying. They were later expressed in the query now.  Suicide is illegal and against the Muslim religion in the middle east as well as the Emirates. Suicides that take place in those areas are always written off as accidental deaths from slip n fall . This makes it all the more suspect that these have taken place now twice in the United States rather than back in their home city of Istanbul.

These events come following a turbulent time at the airline. During the past summer on July 25, 2015, Turkish Airlines fired 211 employees over suspected links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen a behavior  “conflicting with the interest of our country” in the wake of a failed coup attempt.  Turkey’s flag carrier said their contracts were terminated due to “the non-fulfillment of performance criteria and in line with the necessary actions we are taking against the FETO structure, attitudes and behavior conflicting with the interest of our country and company”.

Pilots and Cabin Crew have been quoted online speaking out about harsh and unbearable working conditions at the carrier. “Pilot must be in IST 12 hours before a flight. That means, an expat has to be there a day before and that day for traveling is still considered as OFF day. Also, it means, an expat cannot go home in 48hours rest period (plus possible short-term OFF). Also when you are sick, you get full-reduction in salary, and with luck, you are able to get a maximum of 25% back after months, but only with Turkish National Health Insurance, applying in the Turkish Language at their desk and with Turkish-only speaking staff. Many expats are leaving after a year or a little more, because there is hardly any movement in getting better working conditions, or as before, conditions are getting worse.”

As for Cabin Crew, the times are a changing for them in Turkey. They had previously enjoyed a more western liberal period in their aviation. Yet, new leadership in the country is trying to push them back into the dark ages. Last year, the airline’s administration banned flight attendants from bleaching or coloring their hair while also discouraging “flamboyant” makeup and no more red lipstick. The carrier also stopped serving alcohol on flights to eight countries. These changes have sparked concerns that the state is subtly seeking to impose conservative Islamic models of behavior onto women under the support of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-tinged Justice and Development Party. There is also extreme pressure to fly while sick and if they complain then they can  easily be terminated.

This pressure is sadly not unique to Turkish Airlines.  The growing pressure of more for less is becoming a common theme at many airlines worldwide. The once glamorous cream puff job which was filled with perks has become increasingly demanding for more of us.  The pressures of a grueling work schedule, being constantly away from our families and loved ones, sleep deprivation, minimum reduced rest, exhaustion, disintegrating working conditions then forced to fly while sick. All of these mounting issues could be starting to take its toll on the front line airline workers. This is when the isolation, loneliness, and chronic depression can begin to set in. This combined with cultural and social pressures may be the tipping point as to why we are starting to see this at Turkish Airlines. Yet, it may be right around the corner for many of our own co-workers in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the United States next.

They may be just the first initial Canaries in the Coal Mine. Maybe now is the time to take a moment and pay attention to your co-workers and flying partners. Check in on them often and see how they are doing and if they need someone to talk to. I really do not like to see stories of this nature happening in our Global Cabin Crew community. Sometimes all we have is each other and it is up to us to take care of one another.

Link:  Tornos News

Link:  Son Dakika News

Link:  Eda Ozdemir video

Link:   Turkish Airlines Coup

Link:   Cabin Crew Loneliness Depression

Link:  PPRUNE Pilots Forum Turkish Airlines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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