Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wizz posts strong results on EX-YU markets

Low cost airline Wizz Air has recorded strong passenger growth in 2017 across its three main markets in the former Yugoslavia - Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina - and retained its position as the busiest budget carrier in the three countries. The airline handled a record 1.2 million passengers on flights to and from Macedonia, representing an increase of 32% on the year before. It reached an overall passenger share of 59% in the country, as well as a 90% market share among low cost airlines based on seat capacity, the biggest in its entire network. The carrier is ahead of second-placed Pegasus Airlines with a share of 7.7% and Flydubai with 2.8%. Wizz Air introduced several new routes from Skopje in 2017 and based a fourth aircraft in the city. The carrier will increase capacity by 23% to 1.6 million seats on flights to and from Macedonia this year and has announced the launch of a new service between Vienna and Ohrid.

From Belgrade and Niš, the airline carried 745.000 passengers, up from 545.000 in 2016, or an increase 36.7%. The growth came after the airline stationed a second jet in the Serbian capital and launched four new routes. The no frills carrier plans to increase capacity on flights from Serbia by 9% this year to 900.000 seats. The airline recently discontinued services from Belgrade to Nuremberg and Friedrichshafen, and will terminate operations between Niš and Eindhoven this March. As a result, it will reallocate capacity by increasing frequencies from Belgrade to Malta, Basel, Gothenburg and Paris Beauvais. Furthermore, the carrier will introduce a new service from Vienna to Niš in November. Wzz Air's market share among low cost airlines in Serbia stands at 63%, ahead of Ryanair and Flydubai.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wizz Air handled 583.000 passengers, up from 324.000 in 2016. The figure represents growth of 79.9%. During the year, the carrier based a second aircraft in Tuzla and launched operations to Sarajevo. It has since suspended flights from Bosnia and Herzegovina's third largest city to London and Nuremberg, with Bratislava to follow suit, however, the latter will be replaced by Vienna which will commence this April. In addition, the carrier will boost frequencies from Tuzla to Dortmund, Frankfurt Hahn, Basel and Gothenburg. In total, Wizz Air will offer 700.000 seats from the country in 2018, up 10% on last year. Wizz Air remains Bosnia and Herzegovina's busiest low cost airline with a market share of 48%, ahead of Pegasus and Flydubai.

Wizz Air's market position compared to other LCCs in 2017

Overall, Wizz Air carried over 28 million travellers in 2017 across its network, representing growth of 24% year-on-year. The airline will add at least five new routes to the former Yugoslavia in 2018. Apart from the abovementioned new services from Vienna, the no frills carrier has announced plans to launch flights from Warsaw and Katowice to Podgorica.

Qatar Airways hiring in Belgrade


Qatar Airways is seeking new cabin crew members from Serbia in its first employment drive in the country this year. The Doha-based airline will host a recruitment event in Belgrade on January 27 at the Metropol Palace Hotel (Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra 69) between 09.00 and 17.00 local time. Those interested must register beforehand. Requirements include a minimum age of 21 years, arm reach of 212 cm on tip toes, high school education with fluency in written and spoken English and excellent health and fitness. Further details, as well as the application form can be found here

Montenegro Airlines' passenger numbers decline


Montenegro Airlines handled 568.591 passengers in 2017, representing a decrease of 2.2% on the year before. The dip in numbers is slightly less than the 5% decline the carrier initially anticipated. The airline maintained operations with five aircraft compared to six in 2016 and operated a total of 6.959 flights. "In addition to achieving these results with a fleet of five aircraft, the figures are even more encouraging after taking into account the growing competition on the market. In January 2017 there were twelve airlines operating to Montenegro and up to 54 in July", Montenegro Airlines said in a statement. The airline is undergoing a restructuring process aimed at reducing its losses and debt. Consultancy firm Deloitte is currently finalising an analysis of the company's development potential as commissioned by the Montenegrin government. Furthermore, the carrier's management is drafting a five-year business plan, which includes a review of the company's fleet and finances. Montenegro Airlines plans to boost operations in 2018 with new charter flights to Tehran, seasonal services from Tivat to Leipzig, Munich and Copenhagen, as well as additional frequencies to Lyon. It aims to handle 620.000 travellers during this year.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

IAG Group airlines plan Croatia expansion

Members of the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), which include Iberia, British Airways and Aer Lingus, plan to increase their operations to several cities across Croatia this summer season.

The growth will be headed by Spain's Iberia, which will strengthen its seasonal operations to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. The airline will maintain up to eight weekly flights from Madrid to the Croatian capital, an increase from five weekly last year. It will also bring forward the resumption of the service by a month to early May. Furthermore, Iberia will add four weekly flights to Dubrovnik, resulting in double daily operations during the peak summer season, while Split will also benefit with daily services to be maintained from Madrid this year, up from three per week in 2017. The resumption of its flights to both Dubrovnik and Split will also be brought forward. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the airline said, "We will be offering 48% more seats to Dubrovnik in the summer of 2018 compared to last year. We will resume our flights from Madrid to the Croatian city on Easter and will extend them until October. We will also return flights between Madrid and Zagreb, offering 79% more seats this year than the previous one. The flights will be resumed in May and extended until October. Normally, we operate the route from June to September. Finally, capacity to Split will grow by 189% in 2018".

British Airways will continue to grow its number of flights to Croatia this year after adding Pula as its fourth destination in the country in 2017. The British carrier will operate twelve weekly flights between London Gatwick and Dubrovnik this summer, up from nine last year. Furthermore, the airline will strengthen its services from Heathrow to Split by introducing an extra weekly flight for a total of five. On the other hand, it will retain the same number of operations from London to Pula at two per week. The carrier is also considering adding flights between Heathrow and Zagreb to make up for Croatia Airlines' service reduction on the route. British Airways' leisure unit, British Airways Holidays, has listed Croatia in its top eighteen must-see destinations this summer. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the airline said, "We are pleased with the performance of our routes from Croatia to London, which has resulted in additional flights and capacity this year. Our customers on these routes range from passengers travelling point-to-point to those taking advantage of our extensive international network which serves 199 destinations".

Aer Lingus will follow its partners and increase frequencies on all three of its destinations in Croatia. The Irish carrier will add an extra flight from Dublin to Dubrovnik, resulting in daily operations, while services to both Split and Pula will also be increased by one additional service for a total of three and four per week respectively. "We are delighted to announce the further strengthening of our network to Croatia with these additional flights. The extra frequencies to Dubrovnik, Split and Pula will allow us to continue offering the choice, service and value that delivered our Skytrax four-star accreditation and we look forward to welcoming guests on board these services to Croatia in 2018", the airline said. Asked whether it could add Zagreb to its network in the foreseeable future, the Irish carrier noted, "Flights could be introduced if we determine that this route matches our customers’ needs, is economically viable and makes a positive financial contribution to our business as a whole".

Iran Air reschedules Belgrade launch


Iran's national carrier has rescheduled the introduction of flights between Tehran and Belgrade. After cancelling the initial inaugural service on January 13, the airline now plans to commence operations on Saturday, January 27. As previously reported, flights will run twice per week, each Tuesday and Saturday, with further details available here. On February 1, Qeshm Air will also introduce two weekly flights between the two capitals.

TRIP REPORT: Flydubai, Sarajevo - Dubai


Submitted by Erol Hajdarević

At the end of October 2017 I flew from Sarajevo to Dubai with Flydubai. I have used them before a few times but have only flown with them in economy so this time I treated myself a bit since the fare was less expensive than usual. Sarajevo Airport is small but efficient. After check-in I went to the business class lounge where you have snacks and drinks.

Business class boarded first and there were two cabin crew waiting for us at the entrance. I later learned one was Russian and the other girl was Serbian. I was seated in the first row next to the window. The cabin has twelve seats and around eight or nine were occupied. The cabin looks similar to first class cabins on domestic US flights with large leather seats in 2-2 configuration. Each seat has a TV as well. When I took my seat I was given a drink and menu and there was also a pillow and water bottle waiting at the seat. There is really a noticeable difference between business and economy on Flydubai since you have to pay for everything in economy where here everything is free except wi-fi which you can buy.

After departure I selected my meal. There are a few available options. I had prawns and it was great. The cabin crew was very courteous and I later talked to the Serbian girl a bit. She told me how the new flights to Podgorica, that stop in Sarajevo, work out and that they now have a layover which was not the case before. The entertainment options are good and there are some movies and TV shows. Their solution for headphones is not very smart because the headphone jack is in the TV screen, which means that if you are seated next to the window and want to get to the aisle you have to jump over the other person's headphone chord. It is especially bothersome if you are in the first row since the screens are further away from you because they are on the wall. I hope that in their new MAX planes the headphone jack is in the armrest or seat. The seat is comfortable and can be reclined and there is reclining footrest as well.

The crew went through the cabin a few times asking if anyone wanted something to drink and somewhere in the middle of the flight they came out with a basket that had packed chocolates, crisps and cookies and you could take whatever you wanted. Around an hour before landing they offered warm tortillas. There are two options, one vegetarian and the other with chicken and cheese. I had the chicken and they are excellent. They serve them in economy too but you have to pay but you have to try it. You would never think it's plane food. Coffee and tea are also served.

Dubai's Terminal 2 which is used by Flydubai is a basic low cost terminal which can be very busy and not very appealing. A tip for people flying business with Flydubai out of Dubai: there is a Flydubai lounge which is basic with some drinks but it is really crowded as is the rest of the terminal. But business class passengers have a separate boarding area which is basically a big room where you wait for the bus to pick you up to ride you to the plane. There was no one there when I was waiting for my flight except for the lady which tells you that your bus has arrived. There are also free drinks there so it's a much better and peaceful way to wait for your flight and it is completely separated from the rest of the departures area.

I would recommend Flydubai. The upgrade from economy to business is worth it and is value for money.

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