Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Air Serbia posts stronger results

Air Serbia has posted solid operational results for the first half of 2017, with growth registered in a number of key areas, including passenger figures, cabin occupancy and cargo. The Serbian carrier welcomed 1.12 million passengers during the first six months of the year, representing an increase of 3% on 2016 when it welcomed 1.08 million travellers on board its aircraft. Passenger carrying capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASKs), stood at a record 1.93 billion, up 16% year-on-year. Air Serbia achieved an average cabin load factor of 70.5% in H1, showing an increase of 3% against 2016, with particularly strong seat occupancy in the second quarter, standing at 73.3%.

The airline’s cargo operations recorded significant double digit growth of 54.6%, with 2.988 tonnes of mail and freight uplifted in the first half of 2017, compared to 1.932 the year before. The growth was fuelled by the airline’s New York service, which sees notable cargo loads. Meanwhile, on-time performance at its hub in Belgrade came in at 88.8%. Some of the major developments at the airline during the first half of the year included an IT upgrade to Sabre, the retrofit of ten narrow-body Airbus aircraft, the launch of flights to Venice and the suspension of its Istanbul route, as well as the first flight in its history operated by an all-female crew. Furthermore, the carrier put into effect its new business strategy, which saw the introduction of new ancillary services such as seat selection, mobile boarding passes and annual Premium Lounge passes. Over the past six months, Air Serbia also marked the 90th anniversary of commercial aviation in the country, the first anniversary of its long haul service to New York, and won the 2017 Airline Market Leader Award from Air Transport World.

Commenting on the results, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “Our operational performance in H1 has been strong across the board, with passenger numbers and cargo volumes both rising since last year. We continued to introduce new products and services during this time by reconfiguring our narrow-body Airbus fleet with new seats and upgrading our sales, boarding and check-in systems to Sabre”. He added, “These developments are designed to strengthen the business in what continues to be a very tough and competitive operating environment. We recently celebrated our 90th anniversary as the national flag carrier and are proud that we are continuing to grow and solidify our position as the airline of choice in Southeast Europe”.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wizz Air to maintain EX-YU growth

Wizz Air plans to further strengthen its presence in the former Yugoslavia in the coming period with additional flights to Skopje and Podgorica, as well potential new services to Mostar. The airline's Chief Commercial Officer, Owain Jones, told EX-YU Aviation News that the former Yugoslavia continues to play an important role in the carrier's network, which, as of this summer, serves every country in the region. However, Mr Jones conceded that the airline's presence in some markets, such as Croatia, remains limited compared to other low cost rivals. He noted that both demand and costs remain an issue in the country, but added that the carrier recently stepped up its presence in Croatia with the introduction of flights to Osijek, which will be served on a year-long basis.

Wizz Air fleet allocation in 2017

Commenting on its future growth plans, Mr Jones said to "Routes Online" recently, "When choosing new routes our network development team consider a lot of factors, but its principally demand. Is there a population there which wants to travel by air? Our home CEE [Central - East Europe] markets are developing rapidly in terms of GDP between 2.5 and 6.5% each year. That obviously translates directly into growing demand for air travel”. He added, "The market gain in CEE is different to Western Europe. Everybody is scrapping it out on the Western routes and they’re trying to steal passengers from other airlines. It’s a very saturated market in terms of capacity and demand. CEE is completely different".

Wizz Air market position compared to other LCCs in key markets

Following its biggest expansion to date within the former Yugoslavia over the summer, Wizz Air plans to increase frequencies on flights from Budapest to Skopje and Podgorica, which were launched just several months ago. Both routes will be served three times per week, instead of the current two, starting October 31. As EX-YU Aviation unofficially learns, the airline will utilise its 230-seat Airbus A321 aircraft on two out of its three weekly flights between the Hungarian and Macedonian capital cities from May 5, 2018, which will represent an almost 20% capacity increase each week. Elsewhere, the airline is said to be in talks with Mostar Airport over the introduction of flights from Sweden, which could potentially launch as early as this winter, however, the airline has made no comment on this matter.

B&H's last ATR to be sold


B&H Airlines' last ATR 72 aircraft, which has been stored at Sarajevo Airport since the carrier's demise in 2015, is to be sold. The asset company HETA, which owns the turboprop, has begun talks with potential customers. The aircraft was on a ten-year financial lease to B&H Airlines but was grounded in 2015 since HETA was owed over eight million euros for the use of the turboprop at the time. The aircraft, registered E7-AAD, is 22 years old. Prior to B&H Airlines, it was utilised by the likes of Air New Zealand and Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

Belgrade Airport poised for record July


Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport anticipates handling over 600.000 passengers in July, marking the first time it would surpass the figure in a single month. It comes after the airport broke its 24-hour passenger record last Friday, July 21, for the third time this month. During the day, it welcomed 21.439 travellers. Belgrade Airport has estimated it will register 5.5 million passengers by the end of the year.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dubrovnik Airport readies for busy winter

Dubrovnik Airport is bracing for a busy winter season with a number of carriers planning to boost their flights to the city during the slow months. Spanish low cost airline, Vueling, which previously announced it would upgrade its summer flights between Rome and Dubrovnik to year-round operations, will now also operate services from Barcelona to the Croatian city throughout the winter. Flights will be maintained twice per week. Furthermore, Turkish Airlines will boost frequencies to Dubrovnik over the winter when compared to last year, while the airport is also in talks with several other airlines in an attempt to ease seasonality.

The General Manager of Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolić, said, "Compared to last year, Turkish Airlines has seen its passenger numbers increase 84% on its Dubrovnik service. For us, it is also important that, during the winter, Turkish Airlines will add an additional weekly flight, for a total of four. Combined with Croatia Airlines' service to Frankfurt, we also have high expectations of British Airways and several other carriers we are currently negotiating with". Earlier this month, Dubrovnik Airport welcomed its millionth traveller of the year, which was two weeks ahead of 2016. "This year we managed to reach the milestone two weeks ahead of 2016. The figures so far have been fantastic. Traffic is up 20%, and now we have our millionth passenger earlier than ever before. This month we will welcome around 400.000 passengers, maybe even more. This is encouraging and we could surpass two million travellers as early as October", Mr Tolić said.

Dubrovnik Airport opened its new Terminal C building earlier this year. It has now completed tender procedures for the second phase of its major development project, which will include apron expansion, the overhaul of its runway and taxiways, as well as the relocation of the fuel farm and enclosed facilities for maintenance, operations and ground equipment. Valued at 115.2 million euros, the project will enhance the airport's handling capacity to some 3.98 million passengers per year by 2032. Work is expected to begin this winter and is scheduled for completion in 2020. "To our satisfaction, two major consortiums submitted their bids during the tender process, indicating that we will have a very serious contractor. This will ensure that in the years to come, we will complete our major project, which we started off this year with the opening of the new passenger terminal", Mr Tolić concluded.