By Muhammed Ali GurtasANKARA A three-day international aviation conference by Turkeys national flag carrier Turkish Airlines kicked off in Istanbul on Monday.The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Global Training Partner Conference is being held at the Turkish Aviation Academy, training center of the Turkish Airlines.According to a statement by the airline, the aviation academy was initially founded to meet the training needs of Turkish Airlines personnel, and in due course of time has become the most preferred training center for many companies both in the region and globally."It continues its sectoral training activities for more than 30 years with its expert teaching staff and high quality education approach," the company said. In his opening speech during the conference, Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci said: "As Turkish Airlines, that steadily keeps rising in global aviation, we are so pleased to host such a significant event in our hub, Istanbul, that locates on an unmatched geographical position.""We believe that this conference will provide a significant added value to Turkish Civil Aviation, while strengthening the fact of being a prominent learning and innovation center in its region," Ayci said. Rafael Schvartzman, IATAs regional vice president for Europe, stated that IATA is proud of its role in coordinating the training of more than 100,000 aviation professionals a year, worldwide."We thank Turkish Airlines for their support for this years Global Training Partners Conference," Schvartzman said."The commitment shown by Turkish Airlines to the success of this event shows once again the importance they attach to ensuring their employees maximize their potential," he added.More than 200 representatives from 60 countries are participating in the conference, the statement said.The airline pointed that over 450 IATA global training partners are evaluated on various criteria and the excellence of these training partners contributes significantly to the development of the next generation of professionals. "Having delivered more than 50 IATA training programs to thousands of participants in the last two years, Turkish Aviation Academy is one of the top regional training partners worldwide, and has been granted the title of IATA Premier Circle Member for the third consecutive time by keeping up the same trend in 2018," the company added. Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has nearly 330 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes, and flies to more than 300 destinations worldwide. Last year it carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate. The airline was named Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016, and chosen the Best Airline in Southern Europe for the ninth consecutive time in 2017.