Friday, April 28, 2017

Macedonia tops EX-YU airport infrastructure quality

The World Economic Forum has published its acclaimed biannual Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, in which it measures and ranks the competitiveness of 136 economies, comprising of fourteen pillars, one of which is air transport. In the 2017 report, Macedonia was named as having the highest quality airport infrastructure in the former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina was ranked for the first time, while Kosovo was not included in the survey. Two-thirds of the data in the report are provided by international organisations, with the remaining third based on surveys carried out among over 15.000 business executives and business leaders annually in all the economies included in the assessment. The survey represents a unique source of insight into critical aspects of travel and tourism competitiveness. It is important to note that data for this year's report was compiled during 2015 and 2016.

Quality of air transport infrastructure

Global rankCountryScoreRank change
51Macedonia4.8 8
70Slovenia4.3 3
78Croatia4.1 2
81Montenegro4.1 7
92Serbia3.9 19
131Bosnia and Herzegovina2.6-

Macedonia ranked 51st in the world for its airport infrastructure, with an average mark of 4.8 (with one being the lowest and seven the highest). It was followed by Slovenia, which took 70th place, Croatia 79th, Montenegro 81st and Serbia 92nd. Bosnia and Herzegovina fell behind in the rankings, taking up the 131st position and an average score of 2.6. Compared to two years ago, only Macedonia and Serbia managed to improve their rankings. Singapore boasted the best airport infrastructure in the world, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Finland. Skopje Airport was recently named Eastern Europe’s ninth best airport in a global annual passenger survey conducted by Skytrax. In both 2013 and 2014 it was also crowned the best airport in Europe handling under two million passengers by Airports Council International (ACI).

Available seat kilometres (ASK), international

Global rankCountryASK (millions)Rank change
88Serbia75.7 2
120Montenegro20.4 2
121Macedonia20.2 3
123Slovenia19.3 5
137Bosnia and Herzegovina13.2-

Aircraft departures

Global rankCountryDepartures (per 1.000 people)Rank change
34Montenegro11.0 3
38Slovenia9.2 2
49Croatia6.0 1
57Serbia4.2 18
129Bosnia and Herzegovina0.0-

According to the World Economic Forum, Croatia had the most available seat kilometres on offer on international services in the former Yugoslavia, based on a 2016 average. It achieved a global rank of 83, followed by Serbia and Montenegro. On the other hand, Macedonia positioned itself as 121st out of 136 economies surveyed. Unsurprisingly, the United States had the most available seat kilometres in the world. Based on the number of aircraft departures per 1.000 people, Montenegro performed best in the former Yugoslav region, ranking 34th in the world, trailed by Slovenia and Croatia. Croatia had the largest number of airlines with scheduled flights originating in the country, positioning itself as 33rd. It was followed by Serbia, while Slovenia fared worst, in 114th place

Airport density, number of airports per 1 million people.

Global rankCountry
33Bosnia and Herzegovina

Overall, Spain was named as the most competitive country in the travel and tourism sector. Croatia was 32nd, Slovenia 41st, Montenegro 72nd, Macedonia 89th, Serbia 95th, and Bosnia and Herzegovina 113th.

Number of airlines with scheduled flights originating in the country

Global rankCountryNo. of airlines (average)Rank change
51Serbia42 5
86Montenegro23 6
106Bosnia and Herzegovina16-
109Macedonia15 2

Oman Air - Etihad ink Belgrade codeshare


Oman Air will begin selling tickets from Muscat to Belgrade after it concluded a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways to the Serbian capital. The Omani carrier will place its designator code and flight numbers onto Etihad's daily service between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade, allowing for quicker connections to and from Oman for passengers headed to Serbia. The new codeshare comes into effect on Monday, May 1. Oman Air is the seventh codeshare partner on Etihad's Belgrade service, joining Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Montenegro Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines and Virgin Australia.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Two low cost airlines plan Ljubljana service

Two low cost carriers plan to commence services to Ljubljana this year, as budget airlines continue to expand their presence in the Slovenian capital. The head of Ljubljana Airport, Zmago Skobir, said last week to the "Uporabna stran" portal that one of the carriers in question is headquartered in northern Germany. The airline is tipped to be Eurowings which is based in Dusseldorf and has expanded significantly across the former Yugoslavia this year. Previous media reports have suggested that the airport is also in talks with Ryanair, Iberia Express and Vueling. Ljubljana Airport noted, "We have introduced an updated and flexible tariff system which has improved competitiveness, as well as incentives available for attracting new airlines. The system will contribute to the introduction and expansion of new and existing flights, as well as to the engagement of new carriers". Details of the new flights are expected soon, as services are tipped to commence this year.

The Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure noted last week that it is concentrating its efforts on boosting the country's air connectivity and linking Ljubljana Airport with new destinations. "In our opinion, it is important for Slovenia to be connected with the rest of the world, no matter which airline provides the service. As long as they are safe and offer affordable fares to the public". In a recent report, Ljubljana Airport noted, "By working on marketing, we aim to encourage airlines to launch new routes and increase passenger numbers at the airport, particularly from neighbouring countries and thus reduce the outflow of local passengers to neighbouring airports". It added, "We will focus our marketing activities on raising our profile and strengthening the airport’s competitive position in the region".

Low cost airlines have recently increased their operations to the Slovenian capital. Late last year, easyJet launched flights from London Gatwick, while the Dutch-based Transavia commenced services from Amsterdam earlier this month. Furthermore, Wizz Air recently outlined plans to boost capacity on its London Luton - Ljubljana service by upgrading its equipment on the route from the 180-seat Airbus A320 to the 230-seat A321 aircraft this September. Mr Skobir has said that the airport is doing its best to attract new carriers but warned that fuel prices, state taxes and other charges, which it has no control over, continue to act as a deterrent for airlines.

Dubrovnik Airport set for record April


Dubrovnik Airport is poised to register its strongest April on record, after handling 66.467 passengers during the first seventeen days of the month, up 43% on the same period last year. During the two-and-a-half weeks, a total of 658 aircraft movements were recorded, which is an increase on last year's 568. During the first quarter of 2017, the airport welcomed 75.976 travellers through its doors, a decrease of 5%. The decline was down to weaker results recorded during March. "This is not an indication of some downward trend. March of 2016 cannot be compared to 2017 because it was extremely busy last year due to the Mercedes event which took place in the city at the time, resulting in an increase in the number of visitors and guests. We were aware that this would happen and therefore March of 2017 should not be compared to last year", Dubrovnik Airport's General Manager, Roko Tolić, said.

Etihad names new CEO for equity investments


The Etihad Aviation Group has named Robin Kamark as the new CEO for Airline Equity Partners. Mr Kamark will be responsible for leading and developing the group’s minority equity investment strategy, which includes stakes in Air Serbia, Air Berlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional and Virgin Australia. The biggest existing problem in Etihad’s partner portfolio is Alitalia, which is seeking a financial bailout following continued heavy losses. Etihad has a 49% stake in the Italian airline. Germany’s Air Berlin also has significant problems. Mr Kamark will report to group President and CEO James Hogan, and takes over from Bruno Matheu, who is leaving the post for personal reasons. Mr Kamark rose through a succession of strategy, commercial and general manager roles at SAS Scandinavian Airlines, where he became CCO. For the last five years, he has been the Executive Vice President and CCO of Storebrand, a Nordic financial services business. “Robin is a well-respected leader in global aviation, with wide-ranging experience at SAS Group. He performed important roles in the restructuring of that airline and has broadened his experience more recently in financial services”, Etihad Aviation Group Chairman, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, said. He added, “Our equity partner strategy continues to be an important element of our business model, and Robin will drive the strategy by adjusting and progressing our approach. We would like to thank Bruno for his sterling efforts over the last two-and-a-half years, as we have built and consolidated our equity partner approach”, he said. Mr Kamark will take up his new position in October 2017.

Etihad Airways said in late December it was “fully committed” to its 49% stake in Air Serbia following reports the Emirati carrier was considering reducing its share in the airline. “Speculation about a change to Etihad Aviation Group’s investment in and support for its equity partner, Air Serbia, is totally inaccurate and wholly unfounded. Etihad is and remains fully committed to Air Serbia and to the strategic partnership with Air Serbia’s majority owner, the Government of Serbia”, the Etihad Aviation Group said in a statement. It added, “Since its relaunch, just over three years ago, Serbia’s national airline has been transformed into a profitable, sustainable, and best-in-class, airline”. Last month, Mr Hogan noted, "When I look at the roadmap going forward with Air Serbia, I think it is a good work in progress. Our partnership is long-term and the investment is long-term. So we are here to stay".