Sunday, January 21, 2018

Croatia Airlines to expand network

Croatia Airlines plans to add new destinations and routes to its network this summer for a third year in a row. The carrier will put a greater emphasis on coastal operations and has announced the introduction of flights between Dubrovnik and Munich, as well as from Split to Copenhagen. "After several years of recession, the Croatian economy is recovering and the market requires new leisure destinations. This is why we expect that many travellers, both from Croatia and other markets, will use our products more", the company said. It added, "Croatia has been a tourist hit at a global level for several years, not only during the summer season but also in winter. In accordance with these trends and our capacities, in the future, we plan to further expand our European network of destinations and strengthen our position as a regional leader".

Seasonal services between Dubrovnik and Munich will commence on April 30 and run five times per week until mid-October with a mix of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. Both Lufthansa and Eurowings maintain flights between the two cities, however, the German national carrier will codeshare with its Croatian counterpart. Further service details can be found here. Flights between Split and Copenhagen will be maintained once per week, each Saturday, starting May 5 with a 174-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. It will compete directly against Norwegian Air Shuttle and SAS Scandinavian Airlines on the route. The Croatian carrier has been growing its operations to the Danish capital over the past few years by increasing frequencies from Zagreb during both the summer and winter months. Flight details for the new Split - Copenhagen service can be found here.

The carrier is also expected to announce new flights from Zagreb in the coming weeks. On the other hand, Croatia Airlines will discontinue its one weekly service between Rijeka and London Heathrow. The airline will wet-lease additional capacity this summer to cater for its growing network. However, the exact make-up of its fleet is yet to be fully finalised. In a recent statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the company said that it "hasn’t made a definitive decision in terms of wet-leasing aircraft for next summer season".

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Air Serbia shelves planned Geneva service

Air Serbia has postponed the launch of its two weekly Belgrade - Geneva service, which was scheduled to commence on March 25. The airline noted it would use the allocated Airbus A319 aircraft for charter operations instead. In a statement, the company said, "Air Serbia has transferred its capacities, originally intended for flights to Geneva, to charter operations. The decision was made due to increased market interest in the past for charter services. Since last year was a record for charter operations, the company has decided to supplement its capacities with an aircraft originally intended for transporting passengers and goods to Geneva".

The Serbian carrier is in need of extra capacity for its summer leisure operations as two Boeing 737-300 aircraft, operating under its dedicated charter brand Aviolet, are in the process of being retired, leaving only two other B737s for charter flights. Last year, the airline carried out the bulk of its leisure operations, accounting for over 600 flights, with three aircraft. "In deciding to postpone the start of services to Geneva, planned for March 25, the company was guided by the fact that it already operates flights to Zurich and that charter flights present, from a financial aspect, a lower investment risk and a more efficient use of resources", the carrier noted.

Air Serbia said it still plans to commence flights to the Swiss city in the future. "The start of services to Geneva, which will become Air Serbia’s second destination in Switzerland, is postponed for the time being. Information about the launch of operations will be provided in due course", the airline concluded. As a result, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport will no longer be linked to Geneva, as easyJet, which currently maintains the service, plans to switch its operations to Basel instead. The route was previously run by Swiss International Air Lines and Etihad Regional as well. Switzerland is the second largest air travel market from Serbia after Montenegro. The Serbian carrier plans to boost operations to Zurich this summer to seventeen weekly departures, up from fourteen per week last year. It mirrors Swiss' move to add an extra two weekly flights to Belgrade, for a total of sixteen, next summer. As a result, the two cities will be linked with 33 weekly flights by Air Serbia and Swiss during the high season.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Adria Airways to expand fleet

Adria Airways plans to add two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft to its fleet, the "Uporabna Stran" portal reports. The aircraft are expected to commence operations on Adria's behalf during the first half of the year. Two CRJ900s, one previously operated by SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and the other by Iberia Regional (Air Nostrum), have been parked at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport for some time and are likely to be destined for Adria. The aircraft are believed to be owned by Regional One, which acts as Adria's existing lessor. The Slovenian carrier has recently been advertising job openings for pilots and first officers on the aircraft type. The airline presently operates seven CRJ900s, three CRJ700s and three Airbus A319s. One of its CRJ700s is currently being wet-leased to Luxembourg's Luxair.

Adria plans to expand its operations this summer by introducing six new routes out of Ljubljana and boosting frequencies to seven destinations, including Copenhagen, Paris, Prague, Podgorica, Skopje, Tirana and Warsaw. Much of its planned growth has been based on the usage of Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft, operated by its subsidiary Adria Airways Switzerland (also known as Darwin Airline). However, the regional carrier declared bankruptcy last month, which is a subject of an ongoing probe by Swiss authorities. The aircraft have been grounded ever since with liquidators planning to sell them following interest from a leasing company. "Austrian Aviation" reported yesterday that Adria has invited former Darwin cabin crew to apply for jobs through Swiss-based aviation employment agency Growing.Aero, who will then be assigned onto Adria-operated flights from places such as Geneva, Milan and Trieste on the Saab 2000s. This is despite the fact that the airline does not maintain operations to any of the three cities, although will commence services to Geneva in March.

The Slovenian carrier has been steadily expanding its fleet over the years, adding its seventh CRJ900 in 2017. As a result, the airline has been able to venture into the lucrative ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance lease) business and has operated flights on behalf of Eurowings, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines, to name a few. Adria recently extended the leasing terms of its existing fleet. Therefore, one of its Airbus A319 jets is now on lease until 2021, while the other two until 2024. Four of its CRJ900s will remain with the airline until at least 2022, while the other two are on lease until 2026 and 2027 respectively. Finally, the lease of three CRJ700s has been extended until December 2019.

Wizz Air to shift Skopje - Milan flights


Low cost airline Wizz Air will shift operations on its Skopje - Bergamo route to Milan's main international airport - Malpensa - starting March 26. The budget carrier will maintain two weekly flights between the two cities, each Monday and Friday. It faces no competition on the route. Services between the Macedonian capital and Bergamo, which is some ninety kilometres from Malpensa, commenced in 2012.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

EX-YU airport race 2017

Airports across the former Yugoslavia handled a record 25 million passengers in 2017. For the first time, nine airports managed to welcome over one million travellers with Tivat and Podgorica joining the list. Split was the fastest growing among the larger airports, with an annual increase of 23.1%, while Podgorica saw the biggest growth among capital city airports for a second year in a row, boosting its passenger numbers by over 20% on the year before. For the first time, four airports handled over two million travellers in a single year. Compared to 2016, Pula overtook Zadar, while Niš Airport raced ahead of Ohrid and Rijeka. Furthermore, Brač Airport performed better than Banja Luka. The table below does not include annual data for the smaller Banja Luka, Mostar and Maribor airports as the three are yet to publish their figures, however, common to all is that their numbers decreased in 2017 compared to the year before.

AirportPassengers 2017Passengers 2016Change (%)2007-17
Belgrade5.343.4204.924.992 8.5 112.6
Zagreb3.092.0472.766.087 11.8 55.2
Split2.818.1762.289.987 23.1 136.7
Dubrovnik2.323.0651.993.243 16.5 103.1
Pristina1.887.4021.743.208 8.3 90.6
Skopje1.868.2721.649.374 13.3 198.4
Ljubljana1.683.0451.404.831 19.8 10.4
Tivat1.129.720982.558 15.0 96.8
Podgorica1.055.142873.278 20.8 126.7
Sarajevo957.696838.966 14.2 89.6

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport maintained its position as the busiest in the former Yugoslavia, welcoming over five million passengers in a single year for the first time. On the other hand, Croatia cemented its lead as the busiest overall market with over 9.6 million passengers handled at nine commercial airports. Zagreb registered over three million travellers for the first time, while Split added over half a million passengers when compared to the year before. In another first, Dubrovnik surpassed the two million mark. Osijek Airport saw strong growth on the back of new flights launched by low cost Eurowings and Wizz Air, making up for the loss of Ryanair's operations. The results come on top of a bumper year for the tourism sector, during which 18.5 million foreign visitors arrived in the country, up 13% on 2016. Rijeka Airport bucked the trend with its figures declining by just over 2%, despite soaring cargo traffic and profits.

AirportPassengers 2017Passengers 2016Change (%)2007-17
Pula595.812436.121 36.5 55.0
Zadar589.841520.924 13.4 393.8
Tuzla535.596311.398 72.0-
Niš331.582124.917 165.4 988.8
Ohrid159.072145.002 9.7 249.5
Rijeka142.111145.297 2.2 11.7
Osijek43.37330.605 41.7 1435.9
Portorož25.45023.783 7.0-
Brač21.59612.354 74.8 31.2
Mali Lošinj6.0426.402 5.6-

Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport recovered last year following a disappointing 2016 and surpassed its previous record set a decade ago. Podgorica Airport continued to post strong figures, fuelled by the introduction of new routes from a mix of legacy and low cost airlines. This is despite a slow year for national carrier Montenegro Airlines. In total it saw 537.234 arrivals and 517.908 departures. Sarajevo was the only capital city airport to stay under one million passengers, however, it is expected to surpass the figure this year following 14.2% growth in 2017.

Among the smaller airports in the region, Tuzla Airport welcomed over half a million passengers in 2017, registering its busiest year on record. It saw 535.596 travellers pass through its doors, an increase of 72% on 2016. The growth was fuelled by Wizz Air, which based a second aircraft in the city during the year. Niš Constantine the Great Airport also put in a good performance, recording its busiest year by handling 331.582 passengers, up 165.4% on 2016. During the year, the airport recorded 1.477 aircraft movements, an improvement of 104.6%, and processed 2542.9 tons of cargo, up 29.2%. Despite having no commercial flights, Portorož Airport welcomed over 25.000 primarily leisure travellers visiting the city and its surroundings.

Wataniya Airways to boost Sarajevo flights


Kuwait's Wataniya Airways will increase its services between Kuwait City and Sarajevo this summer. The airline will initially run flights three times per week, before peaking at five weekly during the height of summer. The new schedule represents an increase on last year's operations which varied between two and three times per week. A number of carriers from the Middle East have announced plans to boost frequencies to Bosnia and Herzegovina's capital this year.

Photo credit: Nedžad Beus