Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Croatia Airlines prepares for "difficult" privatisation

Croatia's former Prime Minister and current President of the Croatia Airlines Supervisory Board, Zlatko Mateša, has said the company is preparing for what will be a difficult privatisation process, with interest from foreign carriers expected to be low. "It would be best for the airline to be recapitalised because it will be difficult to find a strategic partner. This is because the European Union has a rule which states that carriers from outside the block cannot own more than 49% of a company from inside the Union. This immediately rules out carriers from places such as China, Japan and the Philippines which have shown interest in Croatia Airlines but cannot be serious partners as they are unable to control a majority stake", Mr Mateša said.

According to the President of the Supervisory Board, recapitalisation and a partnership with a European airline, for example from Poland, would be a good solution for the carrier. Recapitalisation would entail changes to the airline’s capital. This may occur, for instance, when a creditor exchanges a loan for a stake but does not require changes to the company’s management structure. The company could also be of interest to financial institutions, which are not linked to the aviation industry. "We are a regional company that does business globally and a large amount of revenue is made on offline markets. This could make it appealing to investors that are outside of the aviation industry. That would include any financial institution that wants to generate profits on investment", the airline said last year.

Croatia Airlines will seek a privatisation consultant in the coming weeks. The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, said, "Croatia Airlines needs to find a strategic partner and we will commence this process. We have held talks with the company's management several times. As far as I am aware, a tender for the selection of a privatisation consultant will begin soon. They will give us answers to questions such as how, when and in what way the procedure should take place". He added, "This year is crucial in our search of a strategic partner". The previous government, which unsuccessfully attempted to sell the carrier once, selected the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investment arm, to act as a consultant and seek out potential investors by October 2015. However, its search failed to provide any satisfactory results.

FlyJordan commences Mostar charters


Jordanian carrier FlyJordan has launched a new one weekly charter service between Amman and Mostar with its Boeing 737-300 aircraft. The flights, which will cater for Christian pilgrims visiting the Medjugorje sight, will run until the end of the year. Mostar also boasts a one weekly charter service to the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which is operated by Croatia Airlines. Mostar becomes only the second city in the former Yugoslavia to be linked with Amman, with Montenegro Airlines maintaining charter flights from Podgorica to the Middle Eastern city this summer as well.

Montenegro Airlines sees strong June


Montenegro Airlines is continuing to register strong passenger growth in June after its numbers increased 27% last month. During the first two weeks of June, the carrier handled 31.860 travellers, representing an increase of 12% on last year. Over the two-week period, Montenegro Airlines carried 27.780 passengers on its scheduled flights, with the biggest increase registered on services to Moscow, St Petersburg and Frankfurt. On the other hand, the carrier welcomed 2.590 travellers on board its charter flights. On its new seasonal services from Tivat to Leipzig and Munich, which were launched in early May, Montenegro Airlines registered 3.370 passengers. "This justifies the opening of these two new routes and the great potential they hold for the future", Montenegro Airlines' Deputy Chief Commercial Officer, Dejan Pižurica, said.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Belgrade to get new China, Canada flights

The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, has said that flights from Belgrade to a second destination in China and a city in Canada will be announced later this year. Although the Minister did not elaborate in further detail, it follows on from similar statements made by the Chinese Ambassador to Serbia, Li Manchang, who confirmed that talks are underway for the introduction of flights between Shanghai and Belgrade, after Hainan Airlines established services from Beijing to the Serbian capital via Prague last September. Meanwhile, Serbia and Canada plan to resume nonstop flights in the near future after the two countries signed a bilateral Air Service Agreement last month, almost twelve years after the deal was initially drafted.

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport anticipates for its busiest summer season on record with 36 airlines to maintain flights to 63 scheduled and 29 charter destinations. Despite Air Serbia decreasing its flight offering this year and losing ground compared to its completion, the airport will see strong growth by foreign carriers, while charter traffic will increase by a notable 20%. "This year will be a historic one when it comes to charter flights. Greece, Spain, Turkey and Italy are the most popular, although Egypt and Tunisia are also set to return to the market. Fourteen Greek airports alone will be linked with Belgrade, as well as five in Italy, four in Turkey, four in Spain and two in Tunisia. Capacity on flights to Egypt will be doubled with three airlines maintaining flights to the resort town of Hurghada", Belgrade Airport's General Manager, Saša Vlaisavljević, said.

In addition to booming charter traffic, foreign carriers will increase their operations to the Serbian capital. Etihad Airways will add an extra five weekly flights for a total of twelve starting July 1, while the likes of LOT, TAROM, Vueling, Belavia, Transavia, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Swiss International Air Lines have also increased their frequencies. easyJet will launch a new service between Berlin and Belgrade, while Russia's Red Wings Airlines will become the third carrier to maintain flights from Moscow. On the other hand, Iran's Kish Airlines, which intended on introducing services from Shiraz, and applied for a permit to do so, has scrapped its plans. Belgrade Airport estimates handling 5.6 million passengers this year, up some 5% on 2017.

Despite Air Serbia's decreasing passenger share in Belgrade, the airline plans to operate twice as many flights through its dedicated charter brand Aviolet this summer. During the upcoming period, Aviolet will run an additional 140 flights compared to 2017, with 750 extra flight hours. At the same time, following a three-year hiatus, Aviolet will resume flights to Hurghada in Egypt. Serbia’s national airline will maintain its charter services using Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 aircraft. “During the vacation season, Air Serbia will be cooperating with tour operators from Serbia to maintain flights toward the most popular Mediterranean destinations. After three years, we are again offering flights to Hurghada, while Air Serbia will have a significantly larger number of flights toward summer destinations on the coast of Turkey", the company's CEO said, Duncan Naysmith, said.

Emirates hiring in Dubrovnik


The Middle East's largest airline will be hiring new cabin crew members in Croatia. Emirates will host an open day in Dubrovnik on July 2. The venue is yet to be advised. Crew requirements at Emirates include: at least 21 years of age at the time of joining, arm reach of 212 cm while standing on tiptoes, high school graduate, fluency in English (written and spoken), no visible tattoos while in Emirates uniform and the applicant must be physically fit to meet crew requirements. Those interested must bring with them their CV. If all requirements are met, final interviews will be scheduled over the course of the same week. Further details, as well as the application form, can be found here. Emirates previously announced it was also seeking new crew members in Zagreb.

Montenegrin airports maintain growth


Montenegro's two international airports have continued to registered strong passenger throughout May. Podgorica Airport welcomed 94.724 travellers last month, representing an increase of 19% on last year. Over the January - May period, Montenegro's capital city airport handled 365.836 passengers, which is up 19.7% on 2017.

Change (%)
JAN59.861 17.8
FEB55.002 17.7
MAR66.518 18.7
APR89.731 23.8
MAY94.724 19.0

Over at Tivat, the airport handled 85.854 passengers last month, an increase of 13.1%. So far this year, Tivat Airport welcomed 197.668 travellers through its doors, up 18%.

Change (%)
JAN19.845 35.1
FEB16.534 15.6
MAR23.070 14.2
APR52.365 23.7
MAY85.854 13.1

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Qatar Airways to expand EX-YU operations

Qatar Airways will further grow its operations in the former Yugoslavia this summer following frequency and capacity upgrades last year. In line with plans announced in 2017, the Qatari carrier will boost capacity on its fights between Doha and Sarajevo from the 144-seat Airbus A320 aircraft to the 182-seat A321 starting today, with the route to be maintained four times per week with a mix of both jets. "We plan to increase the Sarajevo route to daily and introduce the larger Airbus A321 aircraft", Qatar Airways' CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said recently. In addition, the airline has upgraded all of its daily services to Belgrade to the A321 and has received permits to run an additional four weekly flights to the Serbian capital, for a total of eleven. However, it is yet to schedule the additional frequencies. From July, Qatar Airways will also upgauge equipment on its Skopje service, which will run with a mix of A320/A321 aircraft.

Qatar Airways' Chief Commercial Officer, Ehab Amin, said the region remains an important one within the carrier's network, "We feel that the Balkans are underserved and we would like to provide countries in the Balkans with a five star product they deserve. That is why we are focusing on such markets with high opportunities, which benefits both sides, the people in these countries and Qatar Airways as well. We will continue to seek opportunities in this region". On the other hand, Mr Al Baker noted, "This region is growing. It is becoming affluent and at the same time there is economic growth here and an airline plays a very important part in the economic growth of a country. So we intend to continue our expansion in Eastern Europe. We still have several destinations in the Balkans which we will launch".

Despite interest in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital has not been included in the airline's raft of upcoming new routes for 2018 and 2019. Zagreb remains Qatar Airways' most frequent destination in the former Yugoslavia with a total of two daily flights. The airline is considering increasing capacity on the route next year, with the deployment of wide-body aircraft. Meanwhile, the General Manager of Tuzla AIrport, Rifet Karasalihović, noted, "Qatar Airways has shown interest in cooperating with us, so we can first and foremost become an alternative to Sarajevo in case of adverse weather conditions and later see the establishment of regular charter flights".