Friday, July 1, 2016

Air Serbia to take A320neo delivery in H2 2018

Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, has announced that the carrier will welcome its first of ten ordered Airbus A320neo aircraft in the second half of 2018, with which the airline plans to boost frequencies across its network. Speaking to the "Airways Magazine", Mr Kondić noted that the new aircraft, which will have the capacity to seat up to 165 passengers in a two-class configuration, will give the carrier "more flexibility". "We started the airline with a vision of exiting the broken and old fleet that we inherited. We are moving to a newer generation of Airbus A320neos. These will start entering our fleet in the second half of 2018. Based on where we’re located, there are good opportunities for us, and having a new aircraft is a big part of that", Mr Kondić said.

Air Serbia will take delivery of all ten jets by 2020. Commenting on the aircraft order, Mr Kondić previously said, "The new fleet of A320neo aircraft are a key part of our strategy with which we intend to redefine our position on the market, with the most modern and comfortable single-aisle aircraft. As we expand our destination network throughout Europe, we will set new standards with the A320neo both in comfort and quality of service". He added, "It is the best option from the A320 family of aircraft and features new engines as well as sharklet technology, allowing added efficiency”. The only other carrier in the former Yugoslavia to have ordered the type is Croatia Airlines, which will take delivery of four jets from 2021.

Mr Kondić notes that Air Serbia already serves all of its main markets in Europe and will therefore focus on adding more departures to existing destinations. "We serve 43 destination in Europe and the Mediterranean, and that’s a good start for our network. We carried 2.6 million people last year, compared to 1.3 million before 2013. With many of the destinations that we fly today, we want to add frequencies. We don’t see a lot more opportunity for new destinations, because our network in Europe is set", the CEO said. Commenting on the carrier's recently launched transatlantic operations, he added, "We’re a boutique airline that doesn’t have fifty aircraft flying across the Atlantic. That’s not our goal. We’re here to provide an alternative. We know we’re punching above our weight against bigger carriers. We’re not afraid of competition because we genuinely believe that we have something good to offer".

Chinese investor to take over Maribor Airport


Savings bank Delavska hranilnica, the operator of Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport, has said it is in the process of selling its outright stake to Chinese entrepreneur David Pu for some five to seven million euros. Mr Pu notes that he is still screening the airport and making final arrangements for the takeover. "We would be delighted to connect Maribor with some cities in China and would develop both passenger and cargo traffic", he notes. The Slovenian Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, recently said that discussions have already been held concerning direct cargo flights between Beijing and Maribor. It is believed Mr Pu is acting on behalf of Chinese investor Chen Yinshen. Maribor Airport has no scheduled year-long flights. It handled 24.896 passengers in 2015.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Skopje Airport subsidy probe "inconclusive"

The European Commission (EC) has said its investigation into subsidies provided by the Macedonian government to low cost airlines, primarily Wizz Air, at Skopje Alexander the Great Airport since 2012, have so far been inconclusive. The Commission launched an investigation in late 2014 after a complaint was made by the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority, which claims the incentives have created unfair competition in the region. The EC notes it is keeping in contact with relevant authorities in both Macedonia and Kosovo but that the probe has not led to a firm conclusion on the matter. It adds it wants to put the issue of fair and transparent market conditions into context. Pristina Airport, which is busier than its counterpart in Skopje, was overtaken by the Macedonian airport in monthly passenger figures this May for the first time in over ten years.

The Macedonian Ministry for Transport and Communication says its incentives policy has been carefully analysed and is in accordance with EU rules and regulations. It adds that in 2012 the Kosovan Ministry for Infrastructure was sent additional information on the subsidy program which, it says, respects all international legal procedures. The Macedonian government launched a three-year subsidy scheme in 2012. It has proven successful with Wizz Air opening a base at Skopje Airport, which has in turn led to significant passenger and traffic growth. A fresh round of subsidies was offered last year, which led to Wizz Air basing a third aircraft in the Macedonian capital, launching a handful of new routes and introducing services from Ohrid as well.

Wizz Air says the subsidies it receives from the Macedonian government are in line with EU regulations. “Financial support is provided on a transparent basis through public tenders. We are fine and we have no issues with Brussels”, Wizz Air’s CEO, Jozsef Varadi, said. However, the head of Pristina Airport insists, “In this competitive environment we cannot catch significant growth without the support of the government. We can do our best with incentives, but in the end the government has to support it”. The Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority has based its complaint against Macedonia on the Common Aviation Area Agreement, which the European Union has signed with countries in the western Balkans. According to the Agreement, “This aviation area implies the adoption of the part of the Acquis containing the European aviation rules … The processes of market opening and regulatory convergence take place in parallel in order to promote fair competition and the implementation of common high safety, security, environmental and other standards”. Pristina Airport itself is offering a range of subsidies to stimulate traffic and passenger growth, however, these are being offered by the airport’s operator, rather than the government, as is the case in Macedonia.

Daliborka Pejović to remain Montenegro CEO


The first and only female CEO of a national carrier in the former Yugoslavia, Daliborka Pejović, has been endorsed by the government for another term at the helm of Montenegro Airlines. Ms Pejović was first selected as the carrier's CEO in the summer of 2013. Although the airline faces financial issues and significant debt, Ms Pejović explains that these have been inherited from her predecessor, who she has accused of financial mismanagement and the arrangement of unfavourable aircraft leasing contracts. Under her tenure, the carrier has devised a recovery plan with the aim to cut both losses and debt. Montenegro Airlines ended 2015 with a net loss of 10.386.432 euros, the highest of any national carrier in the former Yugoslavia. Ms Pejović, a high-ranking member of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), has previously held posts at the Ministry of Culture, the state-run enterprise Museums and Galleries of Podgorica, the national Health Insurance Fund and is currently also serving as the State Secretary at the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism. The government has also named Miodrag Koljević, Iva Djoković, Nusret Ećo and Danilo Popović to the airline's Board of Directors.

easyJet to launch new Pristina service


Budget airline easyJet will introduce flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Pristina from November 2. The carrier will maintain the service twice per week, each Wednesday and Saturday. It faces no competition on the route. It will mark easyJet's fourth destination out of Pristina, complementing existing flights to Berlin, Basel and Geneva. Earlier this summer, the airline introduced services from the German capital. Further flight details can be found here.