Sunday, November 19, 2017

Montenegro Airlines not ruling out insolvency

Montenegro Airlines could declare itself insolvent in an attempt to rid itself of debt and losses. In a press release issued this week, the Montenegrin carrier noted there were two scenarios for its future, one which involves wide-ranging restructuring, and the other, less likelier option, insolvency proceedings. "The airline's management is undertaking analysis and calculations with the aim to either seek out a financial model for operational restructuring and long-term stability, or, the less likelier but still viable option of declaring insolvency, taking into account all the negative consequences that brings with it", Montenegro Airlines said. It added that one of the four largest audit firms is currently preparing a detailed report on the way forward, which will soon be submitted to the Montenegrin government.

The Montenegrin national carrier recorded a net loss of 11.4 million euros in 2016. The figure eclipsed its previous worst performance in 2015 when its net loss amounted to 10.4 million euros. According to the company's financial report, revenue declined 3.4% to 65.4 million euros, while operating costs grew 2.9% to 75.6 million. The airline also owes debt of over sixty million euros to various providers. If it were to declare itself insolvent, the government would appoint a special administrator to take formal charge and develop a rescue plan within a set period of time. The plan might entail asset sales, reduced operations and job cuts aimed at making the airline viable. Alternatively, the administrator may decide that a turnaround is not possible and order the carrier to be liquidated. However, the Montenegrin government has reaffirmed its commitment to the airline on numerous occasions, noting that the state would “initiate procedures to take responsibility for” and pay off Montenegro Airlines‘ obligations to creditors.

Montenegro Airlines said the company's management is drafting a five-year business plans, which includes a review of the carrier's fleet and finances. "The management of the company is preparing an analysis to find the most effective financial and operational solution for the fleet, and is formulating a detailed income and cost structure for five or more years. This approach involves purchasing aircraft through an operational lease, whereby it is possible to find favourable rates and financial arrangements on the market". Recently, the carrier's CEO, Živko Banjević, said the airline would replace its two Fokker 100 jets in 2019 and 2020 through an operational lease of either Boeing 737 MAX or New-Generation aircraft. In addition, the airline is considering becoming an all-Embraer operator by taking on additional jets from the Brazilian manufacturer.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Finnair sees EX-YU market potential

Finland's national carrier says it sees potential in the growing former Yugoslav market, particularly among leisure travellers coming from Asia. As a result, the airline will boost frequencies within its limited network in the region and plans to operate up to eight weekly flights from Helsinki to Dubrovnik, five weekly to  Split, as well as two weekly services to Pula next summer. Furthermore, the airline will maintain its four weekly seasonal service to Ljubljana but says it is “carefully following” potential destinations in other countries in the region as competition from rival airlines continues to grow. Norwegian Air Shuttle now serves Dubrovnik, Split, Pula and Pristina out of the Finnish capital over the summer, while Croatia Airlines commenced seasonal flights between Zagreb and Helsinki this year.

Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Finnair Manager, Satu Haataja, said, "Slovenia and Croatia are very popular leisure destinations from Finland. A lot of the travel is point to point but we do see an increase in transfer traffic as well, those destinations are becoming increasingly popular among our Asian customers, particularly from Japan". The airline added, “The Croatian market serves as a great destination for Finnair customers both from Northern Europe and Asia. We have also seen increasing numbers of passengers from Croatia using Finnair on their trips. Demand for Croatian destinations has been growing year by year and we have increased our flights to the area consequently”.

Finnair’s Ljubljana service has also proven popular with travellers from Asia, with the Finnish carrier handling an average of over 30.000 passengers on the seasonal route each year. “Ljubljana is developing well and we hope that someday it will be feasible to operate there year round. We actively follow many markets where we could either increase frequencies or make them year round operations”, the airline said. The Oneworld alliance member, which has carved out a niche with direct flights to Asia, says future expansion in the former Yugoslavia will highly depend on demand from the Far East. “For the time being, the demand from our Asian units has been to Croatian coastal areas. However, when Asian tour operators create more products for the former Yugoslav area we want to be their first choice of airline and then it will be very important to have multiple entry and exit points such as Belgrade for example. At the same time we are following carefully the corporate travel market development to and from the area, because those travelling for work are one of our focus groups”.

Finnair flies between Asia, Europe and North America with an emphasis on fast connections via Helsinki, carrying more than ten million passengers annually. Its network connects nineteen cities in Asia and seven in North America with over 100 destinations in Europe.

Friday, November 17, 2017

airBaltic eyes EX-YU expansion

Latvia's national carrier airBaltic has confirmed it is considering resuming services to Belgrade, as well as plans to continue expanding on the Croatian coast. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News at the Dubai Airshow, airBaltic's CEO, Martin Gauss, said, "We are always discussing Belgrade. It is on the list of routes we are looking at launching and if it makes sense, out of all the routes that we could fly to, we would definitely go there. Belgrade is extremely interesting to us and the route has potential. Network expansion is a key part of our 'Horizon 2021' business plan that enables us to further improve connections between the Baltic region and the rest of the world". The Latvian carrier introduced flights between Riga and Belgrade in 2009 but the route was suspended two years later despite recording better than expected results. Flights were discontinued along with several other destinations as the carrier struggled with financial problems and a fleet shortage at the time. Initially, the route was downgraded to seasonal summer operations before it was discontinued altogether. During the 2011 summer season, from April until the end of August, the carrier handled 8.719 passengers on 82 flights to and from the Serbian capital.

airBaltic will introduce a new seasonal service from Riga to Split next summer season with flights to operate twice per week on the airline's new 145-seat Bombardier CS300 aircraft. airBaltic is the launch customer of the type. The airline already flies seasonally to both Dubrovnik and Rijeka. However, Mr Gauss ruled out introducing year-round services to Zagreb and Ljubljana at this point. He noted, "There is good connectivity there with Croatia Airlines and Adria. You are set up well in that region and linked with Lufthansa hubs to Munich and Vienna. If there was no connectivity I'm sure we could do something more on these markets but we are focusing on expanding first where we can see that we can fill aircraft the easiest, as all airlines do".

The Latvian carrier showcased its new CS300 jet in Dubai this week, which will act as a replacement for its Boeing 737-300s and B737-500s, joining a fleet of twelve Bombardier Q400 turboprops to serve routes throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East. It already boasts seven CS300s in its fleet with a further thirteen on order. In cooperation with Etihad Airways, this October airBaltic launched the longest nonstop service operated by the 145-seat jet between Riga and Abu Dhabi. The airline has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia, maintaining flights to the Croatian coast. It also has a wide-ranging codeshare agreement with Air Serbia. As a result, the Serbian carrier has placed it “JU” designator code and flight numbers onto 47 weekly services operated by airBaltic between Riga and Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna, as well as between Tallinn and Vienna. In return, airBaltic has its “BT” flight code on 56 weekly flights operated by Air Serbia between Belgrade and Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna.

EX-YU Aviation among top 50 aviation blogs


EX-YU Aviation News has been selected as one of the top fifty most influential aviation blogs and websites for aviation professionals by Feedspot, which compiles the most comprehensive list of the best aviation blogs on the Internet each year. The list is compiled based on search and social metrics such as Google search rank, social media visibility, quality and consistency and a review by the website's editorial team. EX-YU Aviation News ranked 39th, with One Mile at a Time taking top spot. The list also features popular sites including The Points GuyAirline ReporterRoutes OnlineSecret FlyingFlightGlobal and The Design Air. It also boasts official airline blogs including Delta's Taking Off, the Alaska Airlines BlogMeanwhile at KLMVirgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, to name a few. It marks the second time EX-YU Aviation News has been featured on the list and is the only website from the region to be included. EX-YU Aviation News went online on June 1, 2008 and has been updated on a daily basis ever since. The number of visitors has increased each year, with the number of unique visitors growing 30% so far this year compared to 2016, while the number of pageviews increased by the same margin to over 4.2 million. 

Skopje Airport registers strong October


Skopje Alexander the Great Airport has recorded its busiest October to date by handling 172.909 passengers during the month, representing an increase of an impressive 21% on last year. During the first ten months, the airport welcomed 1.582.989 travallers through its doors, an increase of 12.9% on 2016. The passenger difference between its traditionally busier nearby competitor Pristina, with which it has feuded over subsidy and fair competition claims in the past, continues to shorten with only 36.500 passengers setting the two apart, compared to 59.000 in September and 75.000 in August.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN122.521 12.3
FEB105.265 3.0
MAR125.167 3.7
APR148.530 10.0
MAY150.203 1.1
JUN150.935 6.0
JUL201.491 16.0
AUG219.518 25.5
SEP186.450 22.3
OCT172.909 21.0