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Atilay Uslu

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Class of 2021, The Netherlands

Atilay Uslu, Founder of Corendon B.V.

Atilay Uslu turned a small local travel agency into a leading travel group.

Photographic portrait of Atilay Uslu

Atilay Uslu

Twenty years ago, Atilay Uslu was running a kebab store in the Netherlands and dreamed of becoming a millionaire by the time he turned 30. He and his family had moved from Turkey when he was just a small child, and he had an idea to sell flights to those in Turkey who wanted to visit family in the Netherlands. So in 2000, Atilay and his partner launched Corendon as a small travel agency. Today, the company is a leading travel group that flies to 25 different countries and operates airlines and hotels around the world.

Atilay says he grew Corendon under the radar, distributing flyers in coffee houses and mosques that offered unique holidays in Turkey. In 2004, some airlines made it hard for Corendon to buy seats on their planes. Atilay refused to let it stop him, launching his own airline, Corendon Airlines International, in Turkey the following year. Corendon later launched two more airlines and also owns hotels in the Netherlands, Ibiza, Turkey and Curaçao.

With much of the travel industry on hold during the pandemic, Atilay says the company has been forced to be even more creative in other areas. “My entrepreneurial heart and a constant feeling of unrest means that I always have a big project in prospect,” he says.