Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Belgrade Airport prepares for transatlantic flights

With just a month to go until Air Serbia launches services from Belgrade to New York, Nikola Tesla Airport is preparing to handle its first transatlantic flights in twelve years, with Uzbekistan Airways being the last to operate the route in 2004. The majority of the airport's preparations have cantered around improving security measures and technology, with a number of infrastructural upgrades to follow. Earlier this month the airport received eighteen explosive trace detectors (ETD) in line with standards prescribed by the United States Transportation Security Administration. Furthermore, the airport has upgraded its two existing explosive detectors, is in the process of purchasing new x-ray machines for hand luggage, body scanners and security cameras, while its staff have undergone additional training to deal with safety issues, handling firearms, as well as passenger screening.

The airport has completed tender procedures for the upgrade of its cargo storage facility, which it says is necessary due to the upcoming service to the States, as well as increased freight transport. Furthermore, it has completed tender procedures for the installation of a visual docking guidance system (VDGS) for the remaining four gates that do not feature the technology (A6 - A10). The VDGS is an electronic display system placed at the gate, allowing pilots to park their aircraft with greater precision and safety. In addition, the airport has recently begun using the Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS), which has become a critical function for airlines and airports following the September 11 attacks and ensures that no baggage is loaded on to a plane without a corresponding passenger. Additionally, it provides a number of functions to meet the demands of ground traffic control and airlines.

Preparations to expand the Terminal 2 building are advancing

Belgrade Airport's General Manager, Saša Vlaisavljević, has previously said, “We have a long tradition of handling long haul flights. In 1989, five wide-body aircraft were regularly handled during the rush hour period, heading to the United States and Australia. This is not a problem for Belgrade Airport or our logistics”. Despite this, the airport has begun work on overhauling its Terminal 1 building, with construction currently being carried out on expanding the check-in area. Furthermore, the airport plans to introduce a baggage claim area at Terminal1, which has up until now been housed only at Terminal 2. Plans to expand the Terminal 2 building by adding a further 11.000 square metres has advanced. With construction originally planned to begin in December 2015 and completed in August 2016, the airport now says the project is undergoing technical controls and work is expected to commence this year. The new sphere-shaped wing of the terminal will feature four passenger boarding bridges, primarily intended for larger, wide-body aircraft. The construction of a de-icing platform, to be located near the runway, is expected to start soon with all technical checks completed and a contractor selected. The new de-icing platform aims to reduce holdover time and speed up aircraft movement during winter. The platform will cover an area of 20.500 square metres.

Etihad - Air Serbia plan US codeshare


Etihad Airways is seeking regulatory approval to codeshare on Air Serbia's future service between Belgrade and New York starting June 23. On May 9, The Emirati and Serbian carriers sent a joint application to the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) for a Blanket Statement of Authorisation to enable Air Serbia to display Etihad's "EY" designator code and flights numbers. "Initially, Air Serbia will carry the EY code on flights it operates between Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, but is requesting blanket Open Skies codesharing authority so that it will not need to amend this authority in the event it expands its service to other US points. Air Serbia requests that the Blanket Statement of Authorisation be granted for an indefinite period, as long as the relevant codeshare agreement continues in effect, and will notify the Department if the codesharing agreement should cease to be effective", the application reads. It notes, "While Air Serbia fully anticipates launching service to the US with its own aircraft, Air Serbia and Etihad have agreed to a contingent wet lease pursuant to which Etihad may wet lease aircraft to Air Serbia in the event of maintenance problems or other issues that might take its aircraft out service for any length of time. Accordingly, Etihad hereby applies for a Statement of Authorisation that would allow it to wet lease an appropriate widebody aircraft to Air Serbia on an as-needed basis". The DoT refused to grant Air Serbia rights to codeshare on Etihad Airways' flights to the United States in 2013 following objections from Delta Air Lines. So far, there have been no objections to the recently filed joint Etihad - Air Serbia application.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Croatia Airlines in talks with plane manufacturers

Croatia Airlines has confirmed it has entered negotiations with a number of plane manufacturers over the purchase of new 100-seat aircraft. The airline plans to expand its fleet next year, as well as add an additional four Airbus A320neo jets in 2021. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the carrier said, "Croatia Airlines is intensively considering all options for redesigning its fleet, primarily regarding the introduction of 100-seat aircraft, which will enable the company to bridge the capacity difference of the currently used Airbus A319/320 and Dash 8 – Q400 aircraft". It added, "Accordingly, the company's Management Board has initiated negotiations with all global producers of 100-seat aircraft, including the Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace, the producer of six Dash 8- Q400 aircraft, which are already a part of Croatia Airlines' fleet".

Earlier this month the carrier's CEO, Krešmir Kučko, said two jets would join the airline's fleet in 2017. Bombardier is believed to be the front-runner and the aircraft could potentially replace the aging A319s in the future. Initially, it was planned for two aircraft to be introduced this year, however, the airline ultimately arranged for a wet-lease of a Trade Air Fokker 100 until late October. In 2018 Croatia Airlines will also have to decide whether it will extend a financial lease agreement of its six Dash 8 turboprops or opt for another aircraft type altogether. The Japanese-produced Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which has the capacity to seat between seventy and ninety passengers, is seen as a possible alternative for the Dash 8s, with the plane manufacturer itself confirming that Croatia Airlines is one of its core customer targets in Europe.

The average age of Croatia Airlines' twelve-member fleet amounts to 11.7 years. Five of the aircraft are owned by the carrier itself (four A319s and one A320), while the rest are on lease. The airline's CEO previously said the company's fleet expansion will not be influenced by its ongoing privatisation process. "It is part our medium-term strategy and its realization does not depend on a strategic partner. However, it will impact on the pace of the acquisitions. Our aim is to renew our fleet as soon as possible. We have given this serious consideration", Mr Kučko said.

Qatar Airways hiring in Niš


Qatar Airways will host a crew recruitment day in Niš in south-eastern Serbia. Interested applicants are to drop off their CVs at the Tami Residence Hotel (Durmitorska - prilaz 1) on Sunday, June 5, between 09.00 and 17.00. Requirements include a minimum age of 21 years, minimum arm reach of 212 centimetres on tip toes, a minimum high school education with fluency in written and spoken English, as well as excellent health and fitness. Online registration is required prior to the CV drop off day. Further requirements and the application form are available here.

Upcoming recruitment events


Skopje - June 4
Belgrade - June 9


Niš - June 5

MyCargo to launch Tuzla B747 freighter flights


Turkish cargo airline ACT, operating under the name MyCargo Airlines, will launch regular freighter flights to Tuzla next month with its Boeing 747F aircraft. The carrier will ferry meat products from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Turkey. Tuzla Airport's General Manager, Rifet Karasalihović, said, "We have already signed an agreement with MyCargo Airlines from Turkey, under which it will operate flights with a Boeing 747, one of the largest aircraft in the world, which has the capacity to carry 110 tonnes of freight. Currently, it is planned for the flights to operate three times per week. Whether this will change in the future remains to be seen". According to Mr Karasalihović, cargo flights to and from Tuzla will commence during the second week of June. Due to runway constraints, the B747F is unlikely to operate with a full payload.  Currently, meat exports to Turkey are handled by Banja Luka and Sarajevo airports. Tuzla Airport has received all necessary clearances from Bosnia and Herzegovina's Commission for Integrated Border Management in order to cater for cargo operations.