Tuesday, September 19, 2017

EX-YU airports handle over 17 million passengers

Airports across the former Yugoslavia have handled over seventeen million passengers during the first eight months of 2017, with Split, Podgorica and Ljubljana continuing to show significant growth among larger airports in the region. This year will mark the first time at least eight airports will handle over a million travellers as Tivat joins the list this September. Airports of Montenegro, which runs both Tivat and Podgorica, has said it anticipates for the latter to also welcome a million flyers. "We expect to handle a combined total of around two million passengers this year at our two airports. The largest share of travellers passing through Podgorica Airport came from the Serbian, German, Turkish and Italian markets, while the Russian market is still dominant in Tivat", the operator said in a statement.

EX-YU airport results, JAN - AUG 2017

AirportPAXChange (%)
Belgrade3.583.371 8.9
Split2.123.209 23.6
Zagreb2.035.137 10.6
Dubrovnik1.695.464 17.9
Pristina1.298.706 13.6
Skopje1.223.630 10.6
Ljubljana1.117.497 20.6
Tivat854.028 16.2
Podgorica713.392 21.1
Sarajevo668.338 14.1

Croatian airports have seen a bumper summer season, with almost all recording strong passenger growth so far in 2017. Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar registered their strongest year on record. The President of the Air Transport Association at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Tonči Peović, estimates that annual growth at the country's nine commercial airports will average 10% this year. "The significant rise in passenger numbers at Croatian airports has been influenced by GDP growth in countries that visitors are coming from, as well as numerous other factors, including safety. Travellers want to go on holiday to places where they feel safe", Mr Peović, who is also the General Manager of Brač Airport, said. He added that lower fares resulting from lower fuel prices have also stimulated travel.

AirportPAXChange (%)
Pula450.930 31.4
Zadar443.875 17.4
Tuzla353.423 72.7
Niš213.215 321.7
Ohrid115.435 11.6
Rijeka103.096 3.6
Mostar30.786 18.3
Osijek25.321 20.0
Banja Luka14.745 3.9

Fraport Slovenia, the operator of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, has revised up its passenger growth forecast into the low double-digit percentage range for the year following a string of strong results. "This growth was due to, on the one hand, the arrival of new airlines and, on the other hand, a significant increase in capacity utilisation by Adria Airways", Fraport said. Meanwhile, Tuzla Airport has recorded spectacular growth, handling 353.423 passengers during the first eight months of the year, up 72.7% on 2016. Growth was fuelled by Wizz Air's expansion in the city. It's counterpart in Niš has also seen its numbers soar, growing over 300%. "With the introduciton of new routes by the end of the year, such as Ryanair's service from Stockholm Skavsta, we anticipate handling 330.000 passengers in 2017", Niš Airport said in a statement.

SkyWork Airlines secures Kosovo contract


Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines has won a military contract to transport personnel and army staff from Berne to Pristina. The carrier will operate the route twice per week starting this October in order to shuttle members of Swisscoy, the association of Swiss armed forces in Kosovo. Every two weeks flights to Pristina will make a stop in Sarajevo for the army contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The deal is significant for SkyWork which has struggled with its finances for years. All flights will be operated with the fifty-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. SkyWork previously ran scheduled flights to several cities in the former Yugoslavia, including Belgrade and Zagreb. Today it maintains seasonal summer services from Berne to Rijeka and Zadar on the Croatian coast.

Sarajevo eyes Beijing flights


The Mayors of Sarajevo and Beijing have discussed the establishment of flights between the two cities. The head of Beijing, Chen Jining, showed particular interest in the matter, noting that services between the two capitals would significantly boost tourism. The two sides agreed for the relevant authorities from each country to continue talks over potential flights. Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to join Serbia and Montenegro in a regional tourism initiative aimed at attracting Chinese travellers. Currently, tourists arriving on Hainan Airlines' recently launched service to Belgrade continue their journey to Montenegro following several days in Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to become the third destination on the tour of the region which will offer a "Paths of Walter" package based on the Yugoslav Partisan film "Walter Defends Sarajevo", which is to this day immensely popular in China.

Monday, September 18, 2017

VLM Slovenia plans Belgrade service

VLM Airlines plans to introduce services between Maribor and Belgrade this October, linking the two cities for the first time in over two decades. According to Belgrade Airport, flights are scheduled to commence on October 9 and run five times per week, Monday through Friday. Although the Slovenian carrier itself is yet to confirm the new route launch, it has indicated its intention of starting operations to the Serbian capital on several occasions. VLM has noted that, "New routes for our winter schedule are coming soon". Belgrade Airport has listed slot requests for the new service as operating with a midday arrival, and a departure at 13.00 local time.

VLM Airlines has previously said that, in addition to Belgrade, it will eventually serve Berlin, Hamburg, London, Podgorica, Zurich, Xi'an, Chongqing and Nanchang. The carrier operated its first two seasonal routes out of its base in Maribor to Split and Dubrovnik during August and has been engaged in a number of charter flights from Italy to Croatia, Greece and Montenegro this summer. "We are already negotiating with some tour operators for the 2018 summer season, when you can expect a broader program with more frequencies. We are also trying to define our winter flight schedule which will begin on October 29. We will be revealing more shortly. With the Fokker 50 aircraft, we will continue operating ad hoc charters. Because of the aircraft's size, there is a lot of interest for such flights", the airline said. In addition to its three Fokker 50 turboptops, VLM intends on adding a jet-engine aircraft to its fleet during the fourth quarter. Fokker 70s, Airbus A320s and A330s are all expected to join the airline in the coming period.

Scheduled flights between Maribor and Belgrade have not operated since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1992. Previously, JAT Yugoslav Airlines maintained services between the two cities, launching operations on May 26, 1976. At the time, flights to Maribor were primarily targeted at Yugoslav nationals living in southern Austria. Services between Slovenia and Serbia resumed in the early 2000s. The bilateral air agreement between the two countries at the time limited the national carriers of each nation to operating only one destination the other had not covered, with JAT introducing operations to Ljubljana and Adria commencing services to Pristina. Today, Air Serbia runs twelve weekly flights between the Serbian and Slovenian capitals. Last year, start-up airline AWEX Croatia secured a Swiss charter contract to operate services from Zurich to Belgrade via Portorož. Flights were maintained once per week with a 34-seat Saab 340B turboprop, however, the route was not resumed this year.

Wizz Air introduces nameless bookings


Low cost carrier Wizz Air, which boasts three bases across the former Yugoslavia, has introduced its new “Flexible Travel Partner” service, allowing customers to create a new reservation without including all passengers’ names at the time of booking. This new product has been designed for customers who want to book their trip to secure low cost fares in advance, but are still uncertain who their travel partners will be. When purchasing the Flexible Travel Partner service, Wizz customers only need to provide the name of one passenger, but can book a ticket for up to nine further passengers without including their name at the time of booking. Customers can provide the additional names at any point by accessing their online booking before online check-in is required. Wizz Air’s new Flexible Travel Partner service is available for a fee of ten euros per passenger per flight.