Monday, March 27, 2017

Hainan Airlines to launch Belgrade service

Hainan Airlines has confirmed it plans to launch flights between Beijing and Belgrade after officials from parent company HNA Group signed a letter of intent with the Serbian government last week for the establishment of services, the set-up of a flight training centre in the country, and unveiled plans to invest and run Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The airline has conducted a feasibility study into flights between China and Serbia and also plans to either establish or run an existing flight training centre in the country in order to meet global demand for new pilots over the next fifty years. Furthermore, it was recently revealed that the HNA Group is bidding as part of a Chinese consortium for the 25-year concession of Belgrade Airport.

Details of the new agreement with the HNA Group, as well as Hainan Airlines' planned service to Belgrade are expected to be revealed at the end of the week, when Serbia's President travels to China for a two-day state visit. HNA Group is a Fortune Global 500 company headquartered in China with businesses spanning across aviation, holding, tourism, capital and logistics. As of December 2016, HNA Group has a fleet of over 1.250 aircraft, operates 1.100 domestic and international routes, flies to over 270 cities and serves 92 million passengers annually. It operates and manages Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Deer Jet, Lucky Air, West Air, Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, Beibu Gulf Airlines, Yangtze River Airlines, Guilin Airlines, Chang’an Airlines, Africa World Airlines, and Aigle Azur. Furthermore, it runs HNA Tourism, which will be selling joint tour packages to Serbia and the region, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Preparations are already underway for the new flights between Beijing and Belgrade. In 2016, some 24.000 Chinese tourists visited Serbia, which is not a large number considering China's size, but for Serbia the trend is encouraging as in 2011 only 12.000 tourists from China came to Serbia. "We hope that the visa free regime, the establishment of a direct flight, joint presentation with our neighbours, as well as the strengthening of regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe will have an influence on Chinese tourists to perceive this region as more attractive than before", Milica Čubrilo, the Secretary for Tourism in Serbia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said. Miodrag Popović, the head of the Tourist Organisation of the City of Belgrade, noted, "Preparations are ongoing at Belgrade's hotels, restaurants and all those linked to the service and hospitality sectors for the arrival of Chinese guests. Research has provided us with information about what interests Chinese guests the most and how they should be treated, from the most banal such as to avoid anything connected to the number four, to more serious issues, such as that one needs to have Chinese food for guests who stay longer, together with local specialties that they may wish to taste. Chinese guests also like to take photos and we need to provide them with enough places to capture their memories", he said. Flights between Beijing and Belgrade last operated in 2000 when they were run by JAT Yugoslav Airlines. Serbia and China abolished visa restrictions for each other's nationals at the start of the year.

Niš Airport terminal overhaul advances

The overhaul of Niš Constantine the Great Airport in Southeastern Serbia is continuing to progress, with work on the exterior expected to be completed by the end of next month. The airport previously undertook roof work and expanded its check-in area. The project is being funded jointly by the Serbian government and local authorities and is valued at 210.000 euros. Niš Airport anticipates welcoming over 300.000 travellers in 2017. Swiss International Air Lines will launch flights from Zurich to Niš this Sunday, with Germania Flug to follow suit in June. The two join Wizz Air and Ryanair which already serve the airport.

Photos courtsey of: Fly From Niš

Wizz Air begins Tuzla expansion


Wizz Air will introduce three new routes out of Tuzla today as it stations its second aircraft in the city. The no frills airline commenced operations to Bratislava this morning, which will be followed by Cologne and Friedrichshafen later on in the day. In addition, the carrier planned to launch flights from Tuzla to Vaxjo in Sweden tomorrow but brought forward the service to last Thursday due to strong bookings. The airline will also boost frequencies on several existing routes. In total, Wizz Air will boast seven departures from Bosnia and Herzegovina's third largest city today. Tuzla Airport anticipates handling some 480.000 passengers this year, which would represent growth of almost 55% on 2016.

Arrival in Vaxjo on inaugural service from Tuzla

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Summer 2017 - Montenegro Airlines

Montenegro Airlines will be making changes to its summer network which begins today, with the airline to maintain operations with fewer aircraft than last year. Last November, the carrier returned its only 112-seat Embraer E190 jet to its owner. Montenegro Airlines will primarily reduce operations out of Tivat. The airline will harmonise its frequencies between Tivat and Belgrade in line with its new codeshare partner Air Serbia. Both carriers plan to run three daily flights between the two cities. Furthermore, the airline will halve its frequencies to St. Petersburg from four to two per week. The reduction will coincide with the introduction of a new three weekly service between the two cities operated by Aeroflot subsidiary Nordavia. Montenegro Airlines will also reduce flights to London Gatwick by one weekly service, returning to its 2015 schedule, following an increase last year. The airline competes against easyJet on the route.

The Montenegrin carrier will maintain the same number of departures from its hub in Podgorica this year. The carrier will reduce one of its weekly flights to Copenhagen but will substitute the reduction with an additional weekly service to Paris, which continues to perform strongly for the airline and its codeshare partner Air France. Apart from its scheduled operations, Montenegro Airlines will also run charters to Bari, Brindisi, Naples and Ancona in Italy. Furthermore, the carrier will introduce new charter flights to the Finnish capital Helsinki. Despite plans to run a one weekly charter service to Tehran, the airline has recently removed the city from its destination network and it is uncertain whether the flights will be operated.

Please note that the changes listed below are preliminary and based on current availability in the Global Distribution System (GDS). Furthermore, the table below displays the peak weekly frequency on each route during the course of the summer season. Increases in frequencies, particularly on flights from Tivat to Belgrade and Moscow, do not come into effect until later on in the summer. You can now review the 2017 summer season changes for each national carrier from the former Yugoslavia by clicking on the links below. Furthermore, you can review Wizz Air's summer operations from the former Yugoslavia here. The 2017 summer season begins today and runs until October 28.

Departing Podgorica

Destination  Frequency S2016Frequency S2017Change  Notes
Copenhagen32 1resumes MAY06
Dusseldorf22-resumes APR08
Lyon11-resumes APR15
Paris78 1-

Departing Tivat

DestinationFrequency S2016Frequency S2017Change  Notes
Belgrade2521 4-
London Gatwick43 1resumes APR26
St. Petersburg42 2resumes JUN06
ends SEP28

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Summer 2017 - Croatia Airlines

Croatia Airlines' summer season operations come into effect this Sunday and last until October 28, with the carrier to introduce new routes and boost frequencies to several destinations. As previously reported, Croatia Airlines will launch new flights from Zagreb to Bucharest, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. The carrier will add two wet-leased Iberia Regional Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft to its fleet from May. They are currently scheduled to operate on a range of routes out of the Croatian capital, including to Copenhagen six time per week, four weekly to Brussels, three weekly to Dubrovnik, Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo, as well two weekly to Skopje and once weekly to Barcelona and Lisbon. Furthermore, the 100-seater will be deployed between Dubrovnik and Athens three times per week.

Croatia Airlines will add an additional weekly flight to its seasonal routes from Zagreb to Barcelona and Lisbon, with the latter launched just last year. However, the carrier will further downgrade its Pristina service, which will now run for just two months this year. The route was turned into a seasonal summer service last winter. Operations out of Split will remain unchanged, however, flights to Athens will resume almost a full month later than last year. In addition, Croatia Airlines will scale back its operations between Dubrovnik and the Greek capital from five to three weekly flights, although there will be added capacity with the CRJ1000 operating instead of the Dash 8 turboprop, which maintained the route through large stretches of last summer. The Croatian carrier will not resume its seasonal service between Dubrovnik and Tel Aviv, which was launched last year. On the other hand, the resumption of flights between Dubrovnik and Amsterdam has been brought forward by almost a month.

Please note that the changes listed below are preliminary and based on current availability in the Global Distribution System (GDS). Furthermore, the tables below display the peak weekly frequency on each route during the course of the summer season. Increases in frequencies, particularly on domestic flights between Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar and Pula, may not come into effect until later on in the summer and can vary depending on the time of the year. EX-YU Aviation News will bring you Montenegro Airlines’ network changes tomorrow. In the meantime, you can also review planned modifications made by Adria Airways and Air Serbia. Furthermore, you can browse through the changes Wizz Air will be making to its EX-YU network here.

Departing Zagreb

DestinationFrequency S2016Frequency S2017Change   Notes
Barcelona34▲ 1-
Bucharest03▲ 3starts MAY19
Helsinki03▲ 3starts MAY21
Lisbon34▲ 1resumes MAY01
London Heathrow88-1 flight via Rijeka
Milan33-resumes MAY02
Oslo03▲ 3starts MAY21
Prague44-resumes MAY02
Pristina22-resumes JUL11
ends SEP05
Pula1414-via Zadar
Rome88-6 flights via Split
2 flights via Dubrovnik
St. Petersburg22-resumes MAY04
Stockholm03▲ 3starts MAY19
Tel Aviv22--

Departing Split

DestinationFrequency S2016Frequency S2017Change  Notes
Athens11-resumes JUN03
ends SEP30
Berlin11-resumes APR29
Belgrade33-resumes MAY13
ends SEP25
Dubrovnik11-resumes APR29
ends OCT21
Dusseldorf22-resumes MAY03
London Gatwick22-resumes APR21
London Heathrow11--
Lyon11-resumes APR29
ends OCT 07
Vienna44-resumes MAY01
ends OCT21
Zurich44-resumes MAY03

Departing Dubrovnik

Destination  Frequency S2016Frequency S2017Change  Notes
Amsterdam11-via Pula
Athens53 2resumes MAY18
Dusseldorf11-resumes MAY07
ends OCT22
Nice22-starts APR28
ends SEP11
Pula11-starts MAY30
ends SEP26
Tel Aviv10 1-
Venice22-resumes MAY04
ends OCT15
Zurich55-resumes APR30

From Pula, Croatia Airlines will operate to Amsterdam (1x per week), Dubrovnik (1x per week), Frankfurt (2x per week), Zadar (14x per week), Zagreb (7x per week) and Zurich (1x per week). All frequencies remain unchanged compared to last year. From Osijek, the airline will fly to both Split and Dubrovnik (1x per week).

From Zadar, the airline will operate to Pula (14x per week), Zagreb (7x per week) and Frankfurt (2x per week), maintaining last year's frequencies. Rijeka will see the Croatian national airline operate flights to Munich (3x per week) and one weekly flight to London Heathrow, as was the case during the summer of 2016.