Monday, August 21, 2017

Air Serbia's position "remains stable"

Air Serbia has said its position remains stable after two members of the Etihad Airways Partners group, Alitalia and Air Berlin, filed for insolvency over the last two months, while another, Darwin Airline, was sold to new owners. In a statement, an Air Serbia spokesperson said, “The latest developments in Air Berlin do not affect Air Serbia. As said previously, the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Etihad Airways are fully committed to the strategic partnership with Air Serbia. The national flag carrier has started the process of consolidating its business, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies, in response to changing market conditions".

The Serbian carrier acknowledged that the business environment remains difficult. "Despite the serious challenges facing the aviation industry on a global scale, the position of Air Serbia remains stable. Our national airline is the leading carrier in the region with a strong network of flights that serve a total of 42 destinations in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North America, with passenger and freight services”, the company noted. Recently, the Etihad Aviation Group's Chairman of the Board, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazro, said, "The Board and executive team have been working since last year to address issues and challenges through a comprehensive strategic review aimed at driving improved performance across the group, which includes a full review of our airline equity partnership strategy". Former Etihad CEO, James Hogan, who has spearheaded the equity investment strategy, which has now unraveled, and is credited for expanding the Emirati carrier at an unprecedented rate, stepped down from his post in June.

Air Serbia recently posted a net profit of 900.000 euros for 2016, which is down 76.9% on the previous year, although the decrease has been put down to the significant investment made in the launch of the carrier's first long haul service to New York. However, according to various Serbian media reports, Air Serbia received some forty million euros from the government last year. Furthermore, the media has suggested that Etihad sold Air Serbia expensive loans, while the government continued to cover debts made by Air Serbia's predecessor Jat Airways. The Serbian carrier has not responded to the claims, noting only that it will focus on strengthening its commercial results, improving the efficiency of its operations and maintaining its focus on cost control and balance sheet discipline in 2017.

Macedonia and China to ink air agreement


Macedonia and China are preparing to sign a bilateral Air Service Agreement after the two sides met for talks in Skopje last week. A senior delegation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) presented a draft text of the agreement which will now be reviewed by their Macedonian counterparts. On the other hand, the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency proposed for the signing of a Memorandum for Technical Cooperation. The two sides are seeking to establish the legal framework for the potential launch of scheduled flights, promote cooperation between aviation authorities, as well as promote technical and educational support. The two agreed that the establishment of flights would help boost tourism and people-to-people exchange.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Germania to strengthen EX-YU operations

The Germania Group will strengthen its operations to the former Yugoslavia next year and has launched its first bookings for the 2018 summer season, which will see it return to Dubrovnik, Niš, Ohrid, Pristina, Skopje and Split, as well as launch operations to Zadar, In Croatia, the carrier will continue to maintain flights from Zurich to Split, but will up its existing frequencies from one to two weekly. Furthermore, it plans to inaugurate services from Zurich to Zadar from May 12, with flights to run twice per week until October 13. The airline will maintain its cooperation with Condor on services from Frankfurt to Dubrovnik and Split next year as well.

Germania entered the Serbian market this summer by launching seasonal services between Zurich and Niš. However, the route was quickly upgraded to year-round operations with the airline to continue to maintain flights twice per week during the winter season, although services will be down to one weekly rotation over selected periods when demand is deemed to be its weakest. As of next summer season, flights will continue to operate twice per week. Germania competes against Swiss International Air Lines on the route, which itself launched seasonal flights between the two cities this summer and recently announced it too would extend operations over the winter period.

Germania's summer programme will again be complemented by flights from Zurich and Geneva to Pristina, and from Zurich to Skopje and Ohrid. These services are operated on behalf of local tour operator Air Prishtina. Furthermore, it will maintain services from Basel, Bergamo, Dusseldorf, London Gatwick, Munich and Verona to the Kosovan capital. The airline was Pristina's busiest in 2016, carrying some 270.000 passengers on flights to and from the city. Similarly, Germania was the third busiest carrier in Macedonia last year. The airline said that it could further expand its operations to the former Yugoslavia, noting, "Our route network is undergoing constant expansion and further destinations will be announced over the following weeks". On all Germania flights passengers are permitted free baggage allowance of at least 20kg. Ticket prices also include a snack or hot meal (depending on flight duration), as well as soft drinks, newspapers, magazines and all taxes and fees.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Croatian airports set for record year

Croatian airports are on course to handle a combined total of over nine million passengers this year, with figures up over 17% so far in 2017. The President of the Air Transport Association at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Tonči Peović, estimates that annual growth at the country's nine commercial airports will average 10% this year. "The significant rise in passenger numbers at Croatian airports has been influenced by GDP growth in countries that visitors are coming from, as well as numerous other factors, including safety. Travellers want to go on holiday to places where they feel safe", Mr Peović, who is also the General Manager of Brač Airport, said. He added that lower fares resulting from lower fuel prices have also stimulated travel.

During the first half of the year, Croatian airports welcomed a record 3.444.310 passengers through their doors, according to the country's Civil Aviation Agency. The figure represents an increase of 17.7% on the same period in 2016. Almost all managed to attract more travellers than last year with Split being the fastest growing, adding 185.600 passengers during the January - June period. Brač Airport recorded the largest increase in travellers percentage wise. Several airports have given estimates of their end-of-year results, although most will likely be surpassed. Zagreb Airport anticipates welcoming over three million travellers, Split 2.7 million, Dubrovnik two million, Pula 600.000, Zadar 580.000 and Brač 30.000 passengers.

Croatian airports H1 2017

AirportPAXChange (%)
Zagreb1.335.942 9.0
Split872.444 27.1
Dubrovnik812.553 20.1
Zadar206.124 14.9
Pula158.736 37.0
Rijeka37.930 2.9
Osijek10.829 9.7
Brač8.610 168.6
Mali Lošinj1.133 41.5

In order to keep up with the strong growth, a number of Croatian airports have been investing in their infrastructure to increase capacity. In March, Zagreb Airport opened its new terminal building, with Dubrovnik Airport following suit. One of the country's most congested airports, Split, is in the process of building a multi million euro terminal, with the facility expected to be opened to the public in July 2019. Earlier this year, Brač Airport completed work on lengthening its runway from 1.440 metres to 1.760 metres. The 320 metre extension now allows for the island airport to handle larger aircraft such as Fokkers, Airbus A319s and new Bombardier C-series jets. Furthermore, Pula Airport's runway was resurfaced over the winter and its approach lighting extended from 400 to 900 metres. In the coming period, Zadar Airport plans to expand its international departures area. The development will allow it to add capacity but also adapt to Schengen standards. Meanwhile, Dubrovnik has 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.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hainan Airlines confident in Belgrade success

Hainan Airlines will become the first Chinese carrier to operate flights to Belgrade in 25 years when it launches operations to the Serbian capital on September 15. The carrier is confident its new route between Beijing and Belgrade, to be maintained via Prague, will prove popular with passengers. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, the airline said, "Both Chinese tourists and Serbian passengers are equally important to us, we expect that this new route could enhance the exchange of visits between the two peoples. At present, 90% of bookings are generated by Chinese tourists. We hope more Serbian customers will recognise us, and we’d like to see more and more Serbian travellers come to China".

The airline has been granted fifth freedom rights between Prague and Belgrade, allowing it to sell tickets between the two cities as well. "With these rights in place, once the new service is launched, Hainan Airlines can offer round trip services between Beijing and Prague, Beijing and Belgrade, as well as Prague and Belgrade. This is the only fifth freedom route that Hainan Airlines is currently operating. These rights build a convenient air bridge for passengers in China, the Czech Republic and Serbia", an airline spokesperson told EX-YU Aviation News. Although no codeshare agreement has been signed with Air Serbia, the two airlines have a special prorate agreement (SPA) in place and the Chinese carrier is exploring further cooperation. "Currently, Hainan Airlines has signed an SPA with Air Serbia. Passengers arriving in Belgrade will be able to transfer to other European cities with Air Serbia. We are looking forward to having deeper cooperation with Air Serbia", the carrier noted.

Hainan Airlines will operate its service to Belgrade with the 292-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft, boasting 32 seats in business class and a further 260 in economy. The aircraft features the airline's latest business class product in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration featuring 180 degree lie-flat seats, while all passengers have access to the airline's in-flight entertainment system through personal television screens. Hainan Airlines is China's largest private carrier by both market share and fleet size. The airline is considering removing the Prague stop on its Belgrade service in the future, with the development likely to occur during the 2018 summer season. "It is possible to operate nonstop. Currently we plan to run two flights per week. We will adjust these plans based on market demands. We will evaluate the possibilities whether to increase frequency or operate nonstop before the summer season", the airline said.

Flight details for Hainan Airlines service between Beijing and Belgrade can be found here.