Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Air Serbia gears up for 2017

Serbia's national carrier is today marking its third anniversary since relaunching as Air Serbia on October 26, 2013. As it enters its fourth year, the airline has promised new innovations and announcements in the months to come. "As we enter our fourth year, we are committed to pushing the boundaries further when it comes to our products and services. As part of this we are especially looking forward to switching to the Sabre reservation system in early 2017, which will enable us to introduce many exciting innovations. When we launched Air Serbia, our vision was to be the best airline in Southeast Europe, and to do that we placed a huge emphasis on guest experience", Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, told the airline's magazine publication.

The carrier has remained tight-lipped on its future plans but has revealed its intention to commence services to Tehran in 2017. "Introducing these flights during the upcoming winter season is not possible, but they are likely next summer. If we do introduce Belgrade - Tehran flights, Air Serbia will have to fly in partnership with Iran Air", Mr Kondić said last month. Meanwhile, the carrier's Chairman, Siniša Mali, noted, "We are considering flights to Canada, Chicago and some other destinations. We are undertaking analysis but no decision has been made. However, it is certainly a logical continuation for Air Serbia's future development. When you have one wide body aircraft, then you open up the possibility to have another one", Mr Mali said. He added, "Of course we are thinking of moving forward with our partner Etihad Airways, but I do not want to make any presumptions. When we make a concrete decision we will announce our plans". During 2016 the carrier introduced long haul flights to New York and its first wide body aircraft, the A330-200. As part of its new product offering, the carrier rolled out a new in-flight entertainment system, available across its jet-engine fleet, as well as an in-flight nanny service on its New York flights. Furthermore, Air Serbia commenced four new seasonal routes this summer, one of which has been extended into the winter months as well.

The President and CEO of the Etihad Aviation Group, James Hogan, says Air Serbia's part-owner, Etihad Airways, is planning on a long-term partnership with its Serbian counterpart. "We see more opportunity over the next five years to do more long haul flying. However, to be successful in long haul flying you have to develop a destination and tourism strategy and cooperate with stakeholders. In aviation terms, it's about the mix of traffic. We have transfer traffic and destination traffic. Today it's probably more destination traffic among Serbians and ethnic traffic coming back. We want to bring in more holiday traffic, more leisure travellers and more business travellers through the system". He added, "I have every confidence that as the airport is upgraded, as the destination becomes more known all over the world, we can grow more the long haul element of Air Serbia in the next five years". In the coming year, Air Serbia will also have to address the replacement of its regional fleet.

Since its relaunch in 2013, the Serbian carrier has doubled in size compared to its predecessor, introduced a handful of new routes, upgraded its fleet with eight Airbus A319s, two A320s and one ATR72 aircraft, with ten A320neos on order, and rolled out a wide array of new services including a new frequent flyer program, a dedicated Premium Lounge in Belgrade, web check-in and on board Internet connectivity. However, in 2017, Air Serbia also faces growing competition at home. Wizz Air is set to base a second aircraft and launch new routes out of Belgrade next year, while low cost competition has been growing at nearby Niš Airport as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fourteen EX-YU airports register record numbers

Podgorica has become the fastest growing capital city airport in the former Yugoslavia, edging past the previous title holder Skopje. It comes following a record third quarter for the Montenegrin airport which saw significant passenger growth that can be largely attributed to low cost carriers. Over the past two months, Wizz Air launched operations to Podgorica, while Ryanair introduced new flights to the city. As a result, the Montenegrin capital overtook its traditionally busier counterpart in Sarajevo last month and has now widened its lead from 3.906 passengers in August to 17.569 in September. During the first three quarters of 2016, Podgorica Airport handled 693.642 travellers, up 15.8%, and recorded 4.672 aircraft movements, an improvement of 9.2% on the same period last year.

EX-YU airport results, JAN - SEP 2016

AirportPAXChange (%)
Belgrade3.810.517 1.1
Zagreb2.127.658 6.7
Split2.058.833 16.8
Dubrovnik1.743.972 15.8
Pristina1.349.880 10.9
Skopje1.258.967 15.3
Ljubljana1.078.333 5.0
Tivat899.287 9.8
Podgorica693.642 15.8
Sarajevo676.073 8.7

Apart from Podgorica, a further thirteen airports in the former Yugoslavia recorded their busiest three quarters on record, including Belgrade, Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pristina, Skopje, Tivat, Sarajevo, Zadar, Tuzla, Ohrid, Niš and Brač. Belgrade Airport continues to maintain its position as the busiest in the former Yugoslavia. With its four-millionth passenger handled during October, the airport's General Manager, Saša Vlaisavljević, reiterated yesterday that the fifth-millionth traveller will be welcomed this year. Croatia's three busiest airports continued to post record numbers, with Split handling over two million passengers for the first time since opening its doors.

AirportPAXChange (%)
Zadar470.185 9.2
Pula412.510 21.8
Tuzla231.972 19.9
Rijeka134.411 3.2
Ohrid123.326 34.6
Niš65.216 262.3
Mostar47.910 27.6
Osijek25.711 3.6
Banja Luka17.247 5.1
Brač11.814 37.3
Maribor7.761 66.0
Mali Lošinj6.067 50.2

Among smaller airports in the former Yugoslavia, Tuzla continued to see its passenger numbers grow over the nine month period, despite a drop in figures during the third quarter. The airport estimates handling between 305.000 and 308.000 passengers this year. Wizz Air will add flights from Tuzla to London Luton and Billund at the end of the week before basing a second aircraft and opening a handful of new routes from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third largest city in March 2017. Meanwhile, Niš continues to reap the benefits of being served by both Wizz Air and Ryanair. The airport has announced that a third carrier will commence operations, with details to be revealed soon, while Ryanair will hold a media briefing in the city this Thursday, although it is unclear whether this may involve the announcement of new routes.

2016 annual estimates made by airports


Mostar Airport begins terminal overhaul

The overhaul of Mostar Airport's passenger terminal has begun with work expected to be completed by December. Valued at 250.000 euros, the reconstruction is being funded from the European Union's Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). "The terminal building will have significantly greater capacity than before which will speed up passenger flow", Marko Djuzel, the head of Traffic and Security at Mostar Airport, said. Furthermore, funds are being invested in new equipment. The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina recently approved fifteen million euros for the development of Mostar Airport between 2017 and 2019. Visuals of the expanded terminal can be observed on images above and below (click to enlarge).

Adria schedules last CRJ200 flight


Adria Airways has scheduled the last flight with its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft for November 30, 2016. According to "Airlineroute", the carrier will operate its last service with the 48-seater on the Ljubljana - Prague - Ljubljana route as flight JP568/569. Last week, EX-YU Aviation News revealed the airline would end operations with the CRJ200 following its sale to Regional One, a Russian purchaser, leaser and seller of aircraft. The retirement comes just under twenty years since the type was originally introduced into Adria's fleet.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Zagreb Airport close to US flight deal

Zagreb Airport is close to securing flights to the United States, which, if launched, would mark the resumption of services between the two countries after 22 years. A European carrier is currently in talks with Zagreb Airport over possible seasonal services to New York, which would run during the 2017 summer season. However, a final agreement is yet to be reached. The General Manager of Zagreb Airport, Jacques Feron, previously said it would be "fantastic" for the Croatian capital to offer direct flights to the United States. "In the US, New York would be an excellent destination, although it is true that this metropolis is well connected to all major European airports", Mr Feron said. His words echoed that of Sani Sener, the CEO and founder of TAV Airports Holding and TAV Construction, which forms part of the consortium running Zagreb Airport. He recently noted that the most desired route from the Croatian capital would be New York.

Earlier this year, the Croatian Ambassador to the United States announced that the Embassy had resumed discussions with various stakeholders in order to explore all possibilities for the establishment of direct flights to Croatia. "We will do all we can to spearhead and facilitate this effort, and achieve direct flights as soon as it is economically possible", the Ambassador said. The last time Croatia had scheduled flights to the United States was during the summer of 1991, when Pan Am maintained four weekly nonstop roundtrips from New York to Zagreb with its Airbus A310 aircraft. Prior to that, JAT Yugoslav Airlines maintained services from Zagreb to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Any European Union registered carrier can operate services from any point in the block to the United States if it holds a valid foreign air carrier permit with the United States Department of Transportation. Zagreb Airport attempted to initiate flights to the Big Apple five years ago, prior to the concession. The then Managing Director, Tonči Peović, held talks with North American Airlines over a potential two weekly service from JFK Airport to the Croatian capital starting May 2011. Mr Peović intended to waive landing and handling fees for North American over a five year period and for the flights to operate with a Boeing 757 or Boeing 767-300 aircraft. The aim of the service was to turn Zagreb into a regional transit hub, but talks between the two sides collapsed and the flights never materialised. Mr Peović noted that an average cabin load factor of 65% would have made the service profitable. North American Airlines has since ceased operations.