Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ljubljana Airport poised for new terminal

The operator of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, Fraport, has adopted plans for the construction of a new passenger terminal according to the daily "Finance". Plans for the new facility are expected to be announced next month, with the project valued between fifteen and twenty million euros. Previously, Ljubljana Airport's General Manager, Zmago Skobir, said a decision on whether a second terminal would be built would be made by the end of March. In 2013, minority shareholders, which have since been squeezed out, rejected plans for the construction of a 57 million euro new terminal building. 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.

Commenting on plans for the new terminal in more detail, Mr Skobir said last month, "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, which is slightly lower than originally planned, but work could begin immediately". Ljubljana is facing increased competition from nearby airports which are investing heavily in improving their infrastructure.

Ljubljana Airport is also expected to begin work on revamping its existing terminal this autumn. "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 noted. Earlier this week, the Fraport Group reported that Ljubljana Airport's net profit fell 23.1% in 2016 to two million euros. Revenues increased 3.4% to 36 million euros. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased almost 24% to 14.5 million euros, while earnings before interest and taxes increased 2.7 million to 4.4 million euros.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Adria Airways pilots go on strike

Adria Airways pilots are staging 48 hours of industrial action after the union and the airline's management failed to reach an agreement over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result, some flights will either be disrupted or cancelled both today and tomorrow. On Wednesday, Adria plans to operate 21 flights from its hub at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. Affected services include Sarajevo and Podgorica, which will be combined into a single flight, Brussels and Amsterdam, which will operate jointly, Prague and Vienna, which will also be merged, as well as Munich and Frankfurt which will run as a single flight. Some services may be operated by other carriers, although Adria has not specified which ones. On Thursday, the airline will maintain 24 flights out of the Slovenian capital and has cancelled its morning services to Zurich and Pristina, afternoon flight to Tirana, as well as its return flight from Paris. Passengers from Pristina will be bussed to Skopje where they will be rebooked onto the carrier's flight to Ljubljana. The full list of modifications to the schedule can be found here.

The trade union representing Adria's pilots decided to go on strike after yesterday's round of talks with the management "failed to result in a nearing of positions and an agreement that would secure the same scope of rights and obligations for pilots which were in effect until the end of February". Pilots are requesting a 1% pay increase. If no agreement is reached, they will again stage industrial action on April 27 and 28, as well as May 25 and 26 between 06.00 and 22.00 CEST. The head of the pilot's trade union, Marjan Majcen, said the strike committee was "willing to continue to seek an agreement until the very last minute but will not consent to the lowering of wages and the scaling back of workplace conditions for pilots". Until a new contract is negotiated, the union has demanded for the same rights and obligations from the previous collective agreement to be upheld.

The industrial action is the first under Adria's new owners, who took over a 100% stake in the company last year. Some 114 pilots are expected to join in the strike today. "Adria Airways apologises to our passengers for any inconvenience brought by this strike. We will do everything in our powers to minimise the consequences for our passengers", the company said in a statement. It urged all travellers booked to fly today and tomorrow to contact the airline. The carrier's management argues that since the last collective agreements were negotiated, the socioeconomic situation in Slovenia has changed, which warrants a pay cut and adjustments to workplace conditions for pilots.

Air Serbia to send A330-200 to Zagreb


Air Serbia will deploy its wide-body Airbus A330-200 aircraft as a one-off on its morning service between Belgrade and Zagreb on Tuesday March 28. The larger jet is being used to mark the opening of Zagreb Airport's new passenger terminal. The 254-seat aircraft features eighteen seats in business class and 236 in economy. The equipment has already been adjusted from the usual 66-seat ATR72 turboprop in booking systems. The airline is offering promotional return fares at 59 euros for the flight. The special A330 return service takes place on the day that Air Serbia receives its 2017 Airline Market Leader award from Air Transport World in New York City. The airline's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “We are pleased to mark the opening of the new terminal in Zagreb by operating our prestigious and unique A330 aircraft to the Croatian capital for that day only.  We flew test flights to Zagreb, along with several other destinations last year, in the build-up to the launch of our New York service and so it is great to see it on Croatian ground again". He added, “The 59 euro fare will be extremely popular with guests looking to visit the new Zagreb terminal on the first day of operations and at the same time fly on our wide-body aircraft”.

Zagreb Airport's new multi million euro terminal was officially opened yesterday, but will be put into commercial use next Tuesday.

Novaport outlines Belgrade Airport plans


Russian airport operator Novaport has outlined its plans for Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport if it is successful in winning a 25-year concession. The part-owner of the airport holding, Roman Trotsenko, said the company would invest 250 million euros into Nikola Tesla Airport if it wins the concession, noting that part of the funds would be secured through loans. "We consider Belgrade as an interesting point. It could be used as a hub to shuttle Russian tourists to Central, Eastern and Western Europe", Mr Trotsenko said. Novaport operates airports in ten Russian cities. It is one of 27 companies to have expressed interest in bidding for the concession. Other Russian companies who have also applied include Airports of Regions Management Company and Herbert Smith Freehills CIS. Fraport, Vinci and a Chinese consortium, which includes Hainan Airlines, are believed to be preparing the strongest bids for Belgrade Airport.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Croatia Airlines to seek new strategic partner

Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, has said the airline is in contact with financial institutions and investment funds concerning its future and could draft a proposal to the carrier's majority owner, the Croatian government, over plans to seek a new strategic partner by year's end. Mr Kučko noted that following the company's successful restructuring, Croatia Airlines is now a "stable and prospective company with a clear direction for future development". He added that the carrier will likely handle over two million passengers this year, which would mark its busiest on record. The Croatian airline is set to launch four new seasonal routes out of Zagreb this year - Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Bucharest - and will resume all four of its summer routes launched out of the Croatian capital last year.

The privatisation of Croatia Airlines is back on the agenda after the government adopted plans to raise over 200 million euros from the sale of state-owned companies over the next three years. Businesses which have not been classified of strategic importance to Croatia are all in contention for sale. The state's former administration removed the Croatian carrier from the list in order to pave way for its privatisation. Croatia Airlines was put up for sale in 2014, however, no interest was expressed during an international tender. The former Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure in the Croatian government, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, said that a total of six companies had previously expressed interest in buying a stake in the national carrier and has urged the country's Prime Minister to resume Croatia Airlines' privatisation process.

Croatia Airlines anticipates ending 2017 with a profit and thus continue its trend of profitable operations. This year, the airline will wet-lease two Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft from Iberia Regional. Mr Kučko noted that the aircraft have been contracted on a trial basis and will be considered for the carrier's planned fleet expansion next year. Commenting on Zagreb Airport's new passenger terminal, which will officially be opened this evening and put into operation next Tuesday, Mr Kučko said, "Testing is more or less going according to schedule. We still have concerns over some aspects, primarily passenger flow. The new terminal has fewer gates and parking positions than the old one. As the volume of flights and travellers increase, parking positions at both the old and new terminal will have to be used. This could cause problems in meeting the expected passenger transfer times. However, the airport is working hard so we hope to jointly resolve any issues".

Croatia Airlines CEO commenting on the airline's new routes and Zagreb Airport's new passanger terminal (Croatian only)