Friday, December 15, 2017

Iran Air to launch Belgrade service


Iran Air plans to launch flights from Tehran to Belgrade after filing for a permit with the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate. According to the "Aviatica" portal, the service will operate twice per week and will launch in the following months, during the 2017/18 winter season. The development comes after the two countries inked a bilateral Air Service Agreement this July and Serbia abolished visa requirements for Iranian passport holders in September, thus becoming the only European country to do so. Iran has also waived visas for Serbian nationals. Speaking in Belgrade last week, the head of the Trade Promotion Organisation of Iran, Mojtaba Khosro Taj, said, "The visa waiver for both countries’ nationals is a positive step in facilitating travel and trade between Iranian and Serbian people. The launch of direct flights will also boost tourism and commercial exchange".

Iran Air maintains services to a number of European cities, including Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Istanbul, Milan, Moscow and Vienna. The carrier began a fleet renewal program last year after international sanctions imposed onto the country were lifted. It is in the process of taking delivery of new Airbus A320, A321 and ATR 72 aircraft. Prior to the lifting of sanctions, Iran Air used Belgrade as a refuelling stop on its flights from western Europe to Tehran, but never held commercial rights to sell tickets to and from the Serbian capital. More recently, in September, Iranian carrier Qeshm Air ran several charter services between Tehran and Belgrade, while Turkish Airlines has capitalised on the abolishment of visas between the two nations by offering promotional fares to Iranian travellers headed to the Serbian capital.

Iran Air's Belgrade launch will mark the resumption of scheduled commercial flights between the two countries after more than 25 years. JAT Yugoslav Airlines previously operated services between Belgrade and Tehran, launching flights on April 19, 1991. The airline also opened its representative office in the Iranian city. The route was popular with a considerable number of transfer passengers to the United States at the time. However, the service was short-lived with the collapse of Yugoslavia halting all international operations. Last year, Air Serbia said it was considering launching flights to Tehran in cooperation with Iran Air.

Croatia Airlines to end Rijeka - London route

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Croatia Airlines will terminate its seasonal summer flights between Rijeka and London Heathrow Airport. The one weekly service will be suspended as a result of the carrier's sale of five weekly slot pairs at Heathrow earlier this year. During the 2018 summer season, Croatia Airlines will maintain three weekly flights from Zagreb to Heathrow, one weekly from Split, and two weekly services between Split and London Gatwick Airport. Croatia Airlines will close its offices at Heathrow by the end of next month.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

easyJet unveils major Croatia expansion


Low cost carrier easyJet has announced its expansion plans for the Croatian market in 2018. It involves the introduction of seven new seasonal summer routes and a considerable increase in capacity for next year with over one million seats on sale to and from Croatia. A number of new services will be added from the United Kingdom, in line with the airline's recent announcement. Pula forms the main focus of easyJet's expansion in Croatia in 2018 with new flights from London Southend, Liverpool, Basel and Milan. Services from London Southend and Venice will be added to Dubrovnik, while the budget carrier will also commence operations from Berlin to Zadar, complementing its existing services from London Luton and Milan.

easyJet will see some competition on its new routes. It will face off directly against Croatia Airlines and Volotea on flights between Venice and Dubrovnik, as well as Eurowings and Ryanair on services from Berlin to Zadar. In Pula, the airline faces no direct competition on its new routes but will offer flights from a fourth airport in London, with Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted already served from Pula by British Airways, Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI Airways and easyJet itself. The low cost airline will operate a record 3.100 flights to Croatia during the peak travel months of July and August next year and offer some 540.000 seats for sale during this period.

Commenting on the airline's new flights to Croatia, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, Ali Gayward, said, "With more than 46 services operating in Croatia, easyJet is committed to providing Croatian clients with affordable trips, offering them a broad network of connections with major European cities". She added, "Pula is very trendy both with young people who want to go to the various festivals of Croatia, but also with more mature people as well, and we expect all our new routes to be especially popular with passengers". Sophie Dekkers, easyJet's UK Country Director noted, "This announcement of our expansion highlights our commitment to providing affordable routes to summer holiday destinations. We’re sure that they will prove extremely popular for those looking for a summer break or visiting friends and family".

RouteLaunch date
Milan - Pula25.06.2018
Basel - Pula26.06.2018
Venice - Dubrovnik26.06.2018
Berlin - Zadar27.06.2018
London Southend - Pula24.07.2018
London Southend - Dubrovnik28.07.2018
Liverpool - Pula29.07.2018

Pristina Airport registers November growth

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Pristina Airport has seen its passenger numbers grow in November, with the airport handling 117.260 travellers during the month, representing an increase of 5% on last year. During the January - November period, it welcomed 1.736.761 passengers through its doors, an increase of 7.1% compared to 2016. The airport initially estimated it would handle 1.8 million travellers this year, which it will achieve this December. “There is huge potential on some routes and we are cooperating with different airlines to attract them for opening new services. We are willing to increase flight numbers and extend our network with additional routes”, General Manager, Haldun Firat Kokturk, previously said.

FlyBosnia applies for AOC

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Start-up FlyBosnia has applied for an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil Aviation Directorate. The regulator noted it would now review the airline's documentation, after which it will decide whether to issue a permit. The process takes some ninety days. The Sarajevo-based airline plans to commence operations in 2018. It has been set up by the Al Shiddi Group, a Saudi Arabian investment and development company. According to local media reports, Haris Čoloman has been named as the carrier's CEO. He previously worked at the now defunct Bosnian Wand Airlines. FlyBosnia noted it is currently formulating its business plan and will unveil more to the public in due course at a press conference.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Adria's Darwin Airline declares bankruptcy


Darwin Airline, which has been operating under the Adria Airways Switzerland brand, has begun bankruptcy proceedings with almost all of its 250 employees to be laid off. Management told staff yesterday that the carrier will no longer fly. It comes just five months after the holding firm 4K Invest, which owns Adria Airways, purchased a majority stake in the Lugano-based airline through its newly created subsidiary Adria Airways Switzerland. Its fleet of ten turboprops have been grounded since late November when the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) revoked the carrier's license due to uncertainty over its financing. Previously, the regional carrier said it had encountered "several unfavourable market impacts”, which have led to its demise. They include the termination of all business contracts with Alitalia and Air Berlin.

Adria plans to transfer Darwin's six Saab 2000 aircraft to the Slovenian registry and base them in Ljubljana, while the remaining four leased ATR72 turboptops will be returned to their owners. However, the grounding of Darwin's aircraft, some of which have been based in Ljubljana and operating on Adria Airways' behalf over the past few months, has recently forced the Slovenian carrier to lease additional capacity. As a result, the airline also intends on wet-leasing a Fokker 100 jet during the first quarter of 2018. Its planned major network expansion for next year, which will see it add six new routes from Ljubljana, relies on the addition of the Saabs to its mainline fleet.

Lugano Airport, which has served as Darwin's base noted it was "perplexed by the latest development". Less than half a year ago, the Slovenian national carrier said in a statement, "Adria Airways, with its extensive expertise, its strong route network, especially in the Southeast European market, will be very beneficial not only to the future of Darwin but also to the Ticino region, which needs good connections with the rest of Switzerland and throughout Europe. Darwin Airline is well capitalised and solvent, thus able to honour all of its commitments to creditors". Darwin Airline was established in 2003. It had codeshare agreements in place with Air Serbia, Alitalia and Etihad Airways, all of which have now been suspended.