Friday, October 20, 2017

Adria Switzerland to focus on ACMI, reduce fleet


Adria Airways' Swiss subsidiary, Darwin Airline, operating as Adria Airways Switzerland, is likely to become a pure ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance lease) provider following what it sees as mismanagement by the former majority shareholder Etihad Airways. The revelation comes following reports by local media that the carrier will lay off a quarter of its workforce and is in a difficult financial state. Speaking to "Austrian Aviation", Klaus Platzer, the CEO of Adria Switzerland, who also acts as a financial advisor to the Slovenian national carrier, said, "We have made a strategic decision to act as an ACMI provider in the future, which is why we can only guarantee scheduled flights until the end of the year". The airline currently maintains two scheduled services from its base in Lugano, to Geneva and Rome.

Under its restructuring plans, Adria Airways Switzerland will cease operating ATR72 aircraft at the start of 2018 and will only retain six Saab 2000 turboprops. The four ATRs were brought in by Etihad Airways in 2014 from Nordic Aviation Capital in order for Darwin to expand its operations out of Geneva. Darwin has also been hit by the loss of its two main ACMI partners, Air Berlin and Alitalia, with the former to cease all operations by the end of the month and the latter declaring insolvency. However, the airline has secured an ACMI contract with Swiss start-up PowdAir from December and has been operating its aircraft on a number of Adria Airways' flights within the region. "Darwin complements us perfectly. Our fleet now ranges from the 140-seat A319 to the 50-seat Saab 2000. We are thus much more flexible. We now have the right aircraft for every situation. Likewise, we can do better in the wet-lease market because we now have a suitable aircraft for every need", Adria Airways' CEO, Arno Schuster, said recently.

Upon the Slovenian airline's takeover of Darwin, the now former Adria-appointed CEO of the Swiss company, Heinrich Ollendiek, said that the carrier would grow out of Lugano but would not limit its operations just to the one city. While layoffs were not ruled out, Mr Ollendiek said at the time that some jobs would be spread between Lugano and Ljubljana, while there was also a possibility for new employment opportunities. Zvone Petek, the Honorary Consul of Slovenia in Zurich, who previously served as Adria's Country Manager for Switzerland for over two decades, noted in a recent editorial for the "Travel Inside" magazine that, "4K Invest [owner of Adria Airways] purchased Darwin in order to merge it with Adria and become a reliable future partner for Swiss and Lufthansa. 4K would be weary of acting against Lufthansa or buying airlines without their blessing. Rather, it seems that 4K is purchasing airlines in Central Europe of strategic importance to Lufthansa". Since then, Lufthansa has pounced to purchase parts of carriers formerly owned by Etihad Airways, including Air Berlin and Alitalia. Adria Airways acquired a 99.1% stake in Darwin Airline in July this year through its subsidiary Adria Airways Switzerland. The Lugano-based Darwin operated as Etihad Regional for the past three years, after the Arab airline acquired 33.3% of its shareholding.

Montenegro Airlines foresees 5% passenger decline

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Montenegro Airlines estimates its passenger numbers this year will decline just over 5% when compared to 2016. The Montenegrin carrier said it handled 464.115 travellers during the first three quarters, with plans to welcome a further 86.000 passengers in the last quarter of 2017, totalling some 550.000 travellers by year's end. The airline predicted the decline as early as April when it said, "Plans for 2017 are based on the reduction of costs and the maximum utilisation of all available capacity, as well as business optimisation on all levels. As a result, and keeping in mind the state of the existing fleet, the company anticipates a decrease in the number of passengers, with an improved average cabin load factor". Montenegro Airlines estimates its numbers will improve in 2018 when it expects to handle 620.000 passengers.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hainan Airlines satisfied with Belgrade performance


China's Hainan Airlines has said it is satisfied with the performance of its new service between Beijing and Belgrade, which launched just over a month ago via Prague. The carrier, which maintains the flights twice per week with a 292-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft, told EX-YU Aviation News, "This route is still in a market nurturing stage, and we believe its performance will continue to improve in the future and meet our expectations". After putting tickets on sale for the new service just several weeks prior to its launch, over 90% of all booking were made by Chinese tourists, however, this is beginning to change. "Tourists contribute a lot on this route, but now we can see some business travellers as well. We’d like to see more business travellers and more Serbian passengers on this route in the future", the airline said.

Hainan Airlines secured fifth freedom rights from Serbian and Czech authorities on flights between Prague and Belgrade, allowing it to sell tickets between the two cities. The carrier notes it is pleasantly surprised by the demand it has seen on this sector. "We are very glad to see an increasing number of passengers travelling between Prague and Belgrade on our flights. We offer a more comfortable aircraft type and a competitive price. We think more and more passengers will fly with us". The Chinese carrier competes against Air Serbia on the route, which maintains ten weekly flights between Belgrade and Prague with the ATR72 turboprop. Hainan has matched Air Serbia's prices and its Friday departure from Belgrade and early morning Monday return to the Serbian capital provides a convenient option for city break travellers.

The Chinese airline has said it is still too early to determine how it will develop its Belgrade service in the future. If there is sufficient demand the airline has said it will either up frequencies or introduce a nonstop service from Beijing next spring. "We will adjust these plans based on market demand. We will evaluate the possibilities whether to increase frequency or operate nonstop before the summer season", Hainan noted. Serbian officials, including the Prime Minister and the Minister for Construction, Transport and infrstructure, expressed hope last month for the latter. Concerning potential expansion in the region, Hainan has said that it is sticking to its current operations, noting, "We don’t have new plans to expand in Central and Eastern Europe".

Tuzla maintains growth momentum

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Tuzla Airport has continued to post strong passenger growth by handling 52.816 travellers during the month of September, representing an impressive increase of 90% on last year when it saw 27.793 flyers. During the first three quarters, the airport registered a record 405.858 passengers, up 74.1% on 2016. Tuzla, which serves as a base for Wizz Air, anticipates welcoming over 480.000 travellers this year.

Niš Airport registers record results

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Niš Constantine the Great Airport has recorded its busiest first three quarters on record. The airport handled 242.337 travellers during the first nine months of the year, representing an increase of 271.6% on the same period in 2016, when it welcomed 65.216 passengers. In September alone, the airport saw 29.122 travellers pass through its doors, up 98.6%. Furthermore, it processed 2.047 tonnes of cargo during the Q1 - Q3 period. Niš Airport anticipates handling some 330.000 passengers this year, with figures expected to almost double by 2021. The airport has already surpassed its 2016 end-of-year- result when it saw 124.917 travellers.