Friday, November 17, 2017

airBaltic eyes EX-YU expansion

Latvia's national carrier airBaltic has confirmed it is considering resuming services to Belgrade, as well as plans to continue expanding on the Croatian coast. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News at the Dubai Airshow, airBaltic's CEO, Martin Gauss, said, "We are always discussing Belgrade. It is on the list of routes we are looking at launching and if it makes sense, out of all the routes that we could fly to, we would definitely go there. Belgrade is extremely interesting to us and the route has potential. Network expansion is a key part of our 'Horizon 2021' business plan that enables us to further improve connections between the Baltic region and the rest of the world". The Latvian carrier introduced flights between Riga and Belgrade in 2009 but the route was suspended two years later despite recording better than expected results. Flights were discontinued along with several other destinations as the carrier struggled with financial problems and a fleet shortage at the time. Initially, the route was downgraded to seasonal summer operations before it was discontinued altogether. During the 2011 summer season, from April until the end of August, the carrier handled 8.719 passengers on 82 flights to and from the Serbian capital.

airBaltic will introduce a new seasonal service from Riga to Split next summer season with flights to operate twice per week on the airline's new 145-seat Bombardier CS300 aircraft. airBaltic is the launch customer of the type. The airline already flies seasonally to both Dubrovnik and Rijeka. However, Mr Gauss ruled out introducing year-round services to Zagreb and Ljubljana at this point. He noted, "There is good connectivity there with Croatia Airlines and Adria. You are set up well in that region and linked with Lufthansa hubs to Munich and Vienna. If there was no connectivity I'm sure we could do something more on these markets but we are focusing on expanding first where we can see that we can fill aircraft the easiest, as all airlines do".

The Latvian carrier showcased its new CS300 jet in Dubai this week, which will act as a replacement for its Boeing 737-300s and B737-500s, joining a fleet of twelve Bombardier Q400 turboprops to serve routes throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East. It already boasts seven CS300s in its fleet with a further thirteen on order. In cooperation with Etihad Airways, this October airBaltic launched the longest nonstop service operated by the 145-seat jet between Riga and Abu Dhabi. The airline has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia, maintaining flights to the Croatian coast. It also has a wide-ranging codeshare agreement with Air Serbia. As a result, the Serbian carrier has placed it “JU” designator code and flight numbers onto 47 weekly services operated by airBaltic between Riga and Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna, as well as between Tallinn and Vienna. In return, airBaltic has its “BT” flight code on 56 weekly flights operated by Air Serbia between Belgrade and Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna.

EX-YU Aviation among top 50 aviation blogs


EX-YU Aviation News has been selected as one of the top fifty most influential aviation blogs and websites for aviation professionals by Feedspot, which compiles the most comprehensive list of the best aviation blogs on the Internet each year. The list is compiled based on search and social metrics such as Google search rank, social media visibility, quality and consistency and a review by the website's editorial team. EX-YU Aviation News ranked 39th, with One Mile at a Time taking top spot. The list also features popular sites including The Points GuyAirline ReporterRoutes OnlineSecret FlyingFlightGlobal and The Design Air. It also boasts official airline blogs including Delta's Taking Off, the Alaska Airlines BlogMeanwhile at KLMVirgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, to name a few. It marks the second time EX-YU Aviation News has been featured on the list and is the only website from the region to be included. EX-YU Aviation News went online on June 1, 2008 and has been updated on a daily basis ever since. The number of visitors has increased each year, with the number of unique visitors growing 30% so far this year compared to 2016, while the number of pageviews increased by the same margin to over 4.2 million. 

Skopje Airport registers strong October


Skopje Alexander the Great Airport has recorded its busiest October to date by handling 172.909 passengers during the month, representing an increase of an impressive 21% on last year. During the first ten months, the airport welcomed 1.582.989 travallers through its doors, an increase of 12.9% on 2016. The passenger difference between its traditionally busier nearby competitor Pristina, with which it has feuded over subsidy and fair competition claims in the past, continues to shorten with only 36.500 passengers setting the two apart, compared to 59.000 in September and 75.000 in August.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN122.521 12.3
FEB105.265 3.0
MAR125.167 3.7
APR148.530 10.0
MAY150.203 1.1
JUN150.935 6.0
JUL201.491 16.0
AUG219.518 25.5
SEP186.450 22.3
OCT172.909 21.0

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Adria anticipates network growth in 2018

Adria Airways plans to continue growing its network following the recent introduction of flights between Ljubljana and Kiev. The airline's CEO, Arno Schuster, told public broadcaster "RTV SLO" that the carrier will soon unveil its plans for 2018, which will include new destinations. Mr Schuster noted that when selecting new points for its network, the airline first takes into account inquires made by passengers for new routes and then cooperates with the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which provides data and details on necessary connections. Finally, a study is conducted which shows whether a potential route would be viable. The carrier noted that it is satisfied with initial loads on its three weekly service to Kiev, but will evaluate the route and its future in due course.

The Slovenian carrier expects to operate 6% more flights in 2017, while passenger numbers are up almost 11% during the first three quarters of the year when compared to last. In other developments, Adria will wet-lease a Boeing 737-400 aircraft in late December and early January from the Slovak charter airline Go2Sky, with which it plans to operate flights from Pristina and Tirana to both Munich and Frankfurt during the busy holiday period. At the same time, the airline has secured wet-lease arrangements with Eurowings and Luxair, in December and January respectively, to provide one of its Airbus A319s and Bombardier CRJ700s to the airlines.

In a previous interview, Mr Schuster noted, "We believe that we now have a good and secure base to further improve our results. One possibility for this is expanding the network. We noticed that our customers want a wider choice. For example, we have added Kiev to the timetable, while other new routes will be added next year. We also have a great advantage here since Slovenia is centrally located in Europe, meaning that the majority of our flights take around one and a half hours. That makes transferring through Ljubljana appealing to many customers". Ljubljana Airport has previously said it was looking at establishing connections to Madrid, Barcelona, Oslo and Hannover. Furthermore, the airport’s medium-term goal is to further strengthen charter operations, particularly from Asia.

Sarajevo Airport completes terminal upgrades


Sarajevo Airport has completed work on the expansion of its check-in area and other bottlenecks inside its terminal building. The number of check-in desks has grown from twelve to fifteen, while another baggage x-ray scanner has been installed. Furthermore, a new baggage handling system with two conveyor belts has been set up in order to upgrade the reliability of the transport, sorting and loading of luggage. Furthermore, Sarajevo Airport recently put into operation two self check-in kiosks. For the time being, only passengers with hand luggage will be able to use the service flying on Adria Airways, Air Serbia, Austrian, Croatia Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Pegasus, Swiss and Turkish Airlines. The airport has noted that the upgrades are in preparation for the upcoming expansion of the terminal building.