Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Adria considering Lodz expansion

Adria looking to expand outside of Slovenia

Adria Airways is considering expanding operations from its base in the Polish city of Lodz, as the airline looks to grow outside of Slovenia. Adria currently offers eighteen weekly flights out of the central Polish city, with twelve weekly services to Munich and a further six weekly flights to Amsterdam. In late March, the airline based a 70-seat Bombardier CRJ 700 aircraft in the city and employed local pilots and crew members. “We are very pleased with the performance of Adria’s new routes, especially with Munich”, Lodz Airport's spokeswoman, Ewa Bienkowska, says. Paris is among the new services being considered, according to sources close to the airport.

The CEO of Adria Airways, Mark Anžur, previously noted that the Slovenian carrier will put a greater emphasis on its operations in Poland in the coming period. “The question is, what are the chances for further expansion out of Ljubljana. We should not rush from Ljubljana, I think Lodz has much greater potential at the moment”, Mr Anžur said. He added, “Strategically we want to be a European carrier and not only a Slovenian carrier. We are embracing internationalisation. There are many reasons for this. One of them being that the Slovenian market is very limited. Through this segment of our strategy, we expect a 5% increase in our passenger numbers”.

Apart from Lodz, Adria also boasts a base in Pristina. Furthermore, the carrier has announced plans to station an aircraft in the Albanian capital Tirana next year. “We have a 5% market share in Tirana and we are the third busiest carrier. Albania is fast growing and traffic is mainly focused on Italy. On the other hand, there is also strong growth in traffic between Albania and Germany”, the CEO said. He added, “Next year we plan to base an aircraft in Tirana and have three daily flights to a number of destinations. We are considering at least two new routes. Italy is a very real possibility”. In addition, later this summer, Adria will make a decision on whether to push forward with plans to open a low cost base closer to home, in the Slovenian city of Maribor. Adria, which posted its first annual profit in 2014 following seven consecutive losses, plans to increase its passenger numbers by 20% this year and improve its revenue by 15%. At the same time, the Slovenian government is seeking to sell a 91.6% stake in the carrier.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bosnian government to liquidate B&H Airlines

B&H grounded as government moves to liquidate carrier

The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has decided to liquidate its carrier, B&H Airlines, saying the move is “not the end of the world”. The Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Denis Lasić, said that the best option would be for the airline to declare bankruptcy. “They [B&H Airlines] have eaten up everything they had and now they are in a situation where they must redirect all state funding to HETA”. B&H has some eight million euros worth of debt owed to HETA, the asset management company, for the financial lease of its two ATR 72s. The Minister added, “It has come to this. The newly formed government is not at fault, we are accused for saying it how it is. I have held talks with the Prime Minister Fadil Novalić and the conclusion is to liquidate the carrier. It is not the end of the world. It is a state-owned company but other carriers in the region aren’t exactly pushing daisies either”.

While B&H Airlines might be a small company whose bankruptcy will have little effect on Sarajevo Airport, its demise will be felt elsewhere. The airline’s 90-strong workforce will all lose their jobs although it is understood that the government is in the process of forming redundancy packages. The Association of Transport and Communication Engineers of Bosnia and Herzegovina said, “If B&H Airlines is shut down all aviation-related professions will forever be lost. Bosnian pilots, support staff and maintenance personnel will no longer be needed and with it, professional aviation in the country will cease to exist”. Banja Luka Airport will also lose out from B&H’s impending bankruptcy. The airline carried 4.861 passengers on its flights from Banja Luka last year. As a result, it handled almost 18% of all passengers using the airport.

Employees, who have not been paid in over four months, are still hoping for a last minute deal which could save the airline. However, as of this morning, the carrier itself is not operating any flights. It has suspended both scheduled and charter operations until further notice with one aircraft grounded in Germany and the other in Sarajevo. “Someone wants to destroy us. We can only guess the motive”, the airline’s employees said. B&H Airlines was initially founded as Air Bosna in 1994, but ceased operations in 2003 due to mounting debt. Two years later the Federation government revived the carrier and renamed it B&H Airlines. Turkish Airlines purchased a 49% stake in the carrier in 2008 with a promise to expand its fleet and operations. However, in 2012, it withdrew from B&H’s ownership structure, citing problems with the government.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wizz Air opens Tuzla base

Wizz Air aims to handle 250.000 passengers from Tuzla annually

Wizz Air formally opened its base in Tuzla on Friday afternoon by basing an Airbus A320 at the airport. The jet will be deployed on a total of nine routes. Over the past week, the no frills carrier launched services from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third largest city to Frankfurt-Hahn, Sandefjord, Memmingen and Stockholm-Skavsta and increased its capacity from Tuzla by 70% compared to last year. Furthermore, the airline has carried 290.000 passengers to and from Tuzla since first launching operations there in May 2013. Wizz Air says its major expansion in Tuzla will further stimulate the job market in the aviation and tourism sectors with more visitors now able to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The low cost airline plans to boost its passenger numbers at Tuzla Airport to 250.000 per year. Furthermore, the number of flights is set to increase from an average of thirteen per week to 23 weekly services. In an earlier statement, Wizz Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, Gyorgy Abran, said, “The new Tuzla base will create a number of local jobs with Wizz Air and our local business partners. We look forward to becoming the airline of choice of Bosnian consumers and visitors”. The low cost airline’s CEO, Jozsef Varadi, told EX-YU Aviation News that Wizz is “highly excited for Bosnia and Herzegovina” and hopes to replicate its success in Tuzla across the country. “Wizz Air is very well suited for that environment. The country is absolutely right for our business plan”, Mr Varadi said. However, he added, “We are in talks with Sarajevo Airport but they are simply too expensive. They need to lower their costs”.

Tuzla Airport has struggled to attract airlines and passengers since it opened its doors for commercial use in 1998. However, its fortunes turned in 2013 when Wizz Air launched its first service from Malmo. Flights quickly proved popular and the no frills airline expanded its network. In 2014, the airport handled 151.353 passengers, a notable 146% increase on the year before. The airport welcomed more passengers last year than it did for the three previous years combined. During the first five months of 2015, Tuzla Airport has continued to see its passenger numbers grow with 74.882 travellers handled, an increase of 83.3% compared to the same period last year. The airport estimates it will handle some 200.000 travellers in 2015. Furthermore, Tuzla is in talks with the small Austrian carrier People’s Viennaline to launch two weekly flights from the Austrian capital to Tuzla with its single Embraer 170 jet.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Air Serbia expects improved results in 2015

Air Serbia rules out expansion until load factor improves

Air Serbia is on track to outperform its 2014 profit figures and passenger numbers while maintaining its current network size until its average load factor improves. Speaking to the media in the United Kingdom some time ago, the carrier’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “We will improve our profit and are on target to improve our passenger numbers”. The CEO added that he does not expect for passenger growth to keep up at a rate of 26%, as was the case during the first quarter of the year, but is encouraged by the strong results posted during the first three months of 2015, which saw the airline handle 453.000 passengers and revenue soar 44% to 39 million euros.

Mr Kondić noted that the carrier will work on improving its average cabin load factor before expanding its operations. “It was always envisaged that we would go hard at trying to drive our load factor. Last year we closed at 70% load factor. It shows there is plenty of room to grow in the existing network”, Mr Kondić said. He added, “Unless there are specific opportunities that present themselves, we really need to go fitter and faster with what we have. Once we get to that 80% plus average load factor, then we can look at expansion”.

The airline’s CEO explained that transfer passengers formed the basis of Air Serbia’s significant passenger growth last year. “Our growth from 2013-14 was an incremental one million passengers and the majority of that came from transfer passengers, traveling from, say, Athens to Dusseldorf via Belgrade. Now to do that, you’ve got to have a network that lends itself to that”, Mr Kondić said. He concluded, “The flying is largely in the two to three hour range, and that’s where we think the sweet spot is. So that’s what we do. We connect people north, south, east and west, and that’s how we get efficiencies in network and aircraft utilisation”.