Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ljubljana Airport considering new terminal

Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is revisiting plans to build a new passenger terminal with a final decision on the project to be made by late March. In 2013 minority shareholders, which have since been squeezed out, rejected plans for the construction of a 57 million euro new terminal building. Speaking to the "Finance" daily, the airport's General Manager, Zmago Skobir, now says, "The owners [Fraport] will make a decision by the end of March. The terminal would expand towards Šenčur and would be slightly smaller than the one previously planned. However, beforehand, it is necessary to look at all the calculations. We are in a better position now because the trends have changed, Adria Airways has a new owner and there is a greater understanding of the investment". He added, "The construction of the new terminal would cost fifteen to twenty million euros and work could begin immediately".

In 2013, the European Union agreed to fund 22% of Ljubljana Airport's new terminal but the project was cancelled after minority shareholders refused to give their support as the airport was in the midst of its privatisation process and the country was still dealing with the fallout from the global financial crisis. The new facility was meant to cover an area of 31.200 square metres, with its opening planned for 2015. Following Fraport's takeover, the construction of a new terminal was put on hold with greater focus put on revamping existing facilities. "Under current plans, the overhaul of the existing terminal would begin this autumn and it should be fitted with new technology. We have already made some quick fixes to improve passenger flow", Mr Skobir said.

Ljubljana was the only capital city airport in the former Yugoslavia to see its passenger numbers decline in 2016. It handled 1.404.831 travellers, down 2.3% on the year before. Commenting on the results, Mr Skobir explained, "The figures recorded in 2007 and 2008 were a result of Adria's far-reaching network, which then collapsed. In 2008 there was also more traffic due to Slovenia's presidency of the European Union. In 2011 and 2012, numbers fell by 30% and we lost between 300.000 to 400.000 passengers. This was a big blow for us and it took several years to recover". The head of Ljubljana Airport added, "In 2015 numbers grew 10% and last year's decline was down to Adria's restructuring. In November and December 2016 figures stabilised. Adria's new owners are obviously doing the right thing and the market is growing. Foreign carriers flying to Ljubljana are constantly seeing passenger growth and in this sector we have already overtaken figures from 2007 and 2008. In 2008, Adria held an 80% passenger share, today it is a solid 60%. The fact of the matter is that Adria's restructuring was not as fast as we expected". Mr Skobir noted that the airport has introduced a flexible pricing policy for airlines and is doing its best to attract new carriers. However, fuel prices at Ljubljana Airport, state taxes and other charges, which the airport has no control over, continue to act as a deterrent.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Brussels Airlines considering Sarajevo, Banja Luka

Belgium's national carrier Brussels Airlines is considering launching flights between its hub and Bosnia and Herzegovina's two largest cities. Herman Carpentier, the ‎Vice President for Aeropolitical, Government & International Relations at Brussels Airlines, said the carrier is eying a potential Brussels - Sarajevo - Banja Luka service. The airline has requested for additional information and data from both airports before making a final decision, with Mr Carpenrier noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina's ongoing process to join the European Union will further boost demand for flights between the two countries. There is currently no service between the Bosnian capital and Brussels, with TUIfly Belgium to launch seasonal flights from Charleroi, which is some fifty kilometres from Brussels, to Sarajevo on March 31.

Brussels Airlines has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia, with flights to Zagreb introduced in 2015. Last year, Andreas Weingartner, the carrier's General Manager for Central Europe, Balkans, Russia and Offline Europe, said, "The Balkan market is still relatively untapped and is new for us, but it certainly has growth potential. Initially, we always introduce flights to countries which are already members of the European Union. Zagreb has recently been added. On our flights from Vienna, we have many transfer passengers from the Balkans". In December 2016, the Lufthansa Group took a 100% stake in Brussels Airlines, in a deal to fully integrate the Belgian carrier into Lufthansa’s Eurowings Group in 2018.

Meanwhile, another Lufthansa Group member, Austrian Airlines, has ruled out the possibility of launching services to Banja Luka. The carrier previously served the city during the 1990s. Despite talks with the airport in 2014 over potential flights, Stefanie Zugmann, Austrian's ‎Manager for International & Aeropolitical Affairs, noted that the airline has made a list of priority markets and destinations for the future, with Banja Luka not included in the upper third. "We have to look at the potential of the market. Furthermore, we would need additional data from local sales agents. The size of the catchment area is important but is not the only indicator for the route's potential. We would also be very thankful for any sort of legal incentives we could be offered from the competent authorities", Ms Zugmann said, adding that every new route carries with it a financial risk. Banja Luka Airport has struggled to attract customers over the past few years and is currently served only by Air Serbia, which maintains three weekly flights from Belgrade.

Ellinair to launch Heraklion - Belgrade


Greek carrier Ellinair will commence a two weekly seasonal service between Heraklion, on the island of Crete, and Belgrade this June, the "Aviatica" portal reports. Flights will commence on June 6 and run each Tuesday and Friday until September 22 with a Boeing 737-300 aircraft. Tickets are already on sale through the airline's website. The carrier will also operate charter flights between Thessaloniki and the Serbian capital during the summer. Further details for the new Hearklion - Belgrade service can be found here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

EX-YU airport race 2016

Last year proved to be the busiest for airports across the former Yugoslavia with over 21 million passengers handled. With exception to Ljubljana, all of the top ten busiest airports saw record figures. Dubrovnik was the fastest growing among the larger airports, with an annual growth rate of 17.7%, while Podgorica was the fastest growing capital city airport, boosting its passenger numbers by 16.6% on the year before. For the first time, three airports handled over two million travellers in a single year. Compared to 2015, Podgorica Airport overtook Sarajevo, while Skopje recorded the highest passenger growth rate over the past decade among the capitals.

AirportPassengers 2016Passengers 2015Change (%)2006-16
Belgrade4.924.9924.776.110 3.1 121.6
Zagreb2.766.0872.587.798 6.9 74.8
Split2.289.9871.995.400 17.1 109.0
Dubrovnik1.993.2431.693.934 17.7 77.9
Pristina1.743.2081.549.198 12.5 97.5
Skopje1.649.3741.452.375 13.6 201.4
Ljubljana1.404.8311.438.304 2.3 5.3
Tivat982.558895.006 9.8 117.7
Podgorica873.278748.899 16.6 128.7
Sarajevo838.966772.851 8.5 80.0

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport maintained its position as the busiest in the former Yugoslavia, while Niš Airport, in Serbia's south-east, welcomed a record 124.917 travellers. Belgrade expects to surpass the five million passenger mark this year and has recorded strong January growth so far into the month. In addition, Niš Airport anticipates doubling its figures this year with both Swiss International Air Lines and Germania to launch services over the summer. On the other hand, Podgorica Airport surpassed its traditionally busier counterpart in Sarajevo, reassuming its position as the ninth busiest in the former Yugoslavia after three years. It saw a total of 429.586 arrivals and 443.692 departures. Ryanair will launch a new service from Stockholm Skavsta to the Montenegrin capital during 2017, while LOT Polish Airlines will commence seasonal flights from Warsaw this year as well.

AirportPassengers 2016Passengers 2015Change (%)2006-16
Zadar520.924487.652 6.8 696.2
Pula436.121359.426 21.3 47.6
Tuzla310.286259.074 19.7-
Ohrid145.002107.936 34.5 188.1
Rijeka143.084133.564 7.1 14.2
Niš124.91736.258 244.5 251.7
Portorož23.78322.975 3.5-
Brač12.3548.868 39.3 31.2
Maribor8.89024.886 64.3 20.6

Croatian airports recorded their busiest year with Split handling over two million travellers for the first time. Its passenger growth over the past decade has proven equally impressive with an increase of over 100% since 2006. Meanwhile, Zagreb Airport anticipates for its numbers to continue to grow into 2017 with Monarch Airlines, Emirates and Beijing Capital Airlines to introduce flights to the Croatian capital this year, while another carrier is poised to announce services between Zagreb and New York shortly.

Skopje Alexander the Great Airport registered another record year with 1.649.376 passengers handled. "We are satisfied that we have managed to accomplish double digit passenger growth on an annual level, which is higher than both the EU and regional average. We will continue in the same direction in 2017, focusing on our main goals such as route network expansion at Skopje and Ohrid airports, and cooperation with the government, competent aviation authorities and airlines", The General Manager of airport operator TAV Macedonia said. Istanbul (both Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports) was the busiest route in and out of Skopje, holding a 12.6% passenger share, followed by Zurich with 10.2%, Vienna with 6.3%, Basel with 5%, Malmo with 4.8% and London with a 4.3% passenger share. Wizz Air handled the largest number of passengers, boasting a 54.8% market share, followed by Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Germania Flug, Pegasus Airlines and Edelweiss. Cargo traffic at Skopje Airport also saw significant growth with 3.090 tons processed, up 10.9% on the year before. The increase was mostly a result of growth in exports, but also an increase in individual orders through the Internet. Since 2006, Skopje Airport's passenger numbers have grown 201%.

Ryanair hiring in Ljubljana


Europe's largest airline, Ryanair, will be hiring Slovenian cabin crew members. The carrier will host a recruitment day in Ljubljana on February 10. Requirements include a good knowledge of English, both written and spoken, an EU passport and good computer skills. Selected candidates will take part in an intensive six week training course which covers all aspects of the job from passenger safety to customer service. It should be noted that a fee is associated with the training process, although can be deducted from the salary later. Successful applicants will receive "a highly competitive package" including a three-year contract, staff travel rates and a €1.200 'new joiner's allowance'. Further requirements and the registration form can be found here.