Sunday, April 23, 2017

Adria expects strong 2017

Adria Airways anticipates for a successful 2017 after it made headway last year both in terms of revenue and expenditure. Speaking to the daily "Delo", the airline's CEO, Arno Schuster, said, "The operational results for 2016 are currently being audited so I cannot disclose them. However, I can say that we saw progress when compared to 2015 both in terms of expenses and revenues. The first year of restructuring is understandably challenging for both employees and the company itself. Last year was very challenging and our main goal has been to stabilise the company". He added, "Adria's operations are very cyclical - divided between the summer and winter. In the winter we have lower revenue and in the summer it is higher".

Commenting on the year ahead, Mr Schuster said, "We believe in the sustainability of the existing business model and financing through higher revenues, which are mostly generated in the summer. In general, we will focus on two areas of our business - both regular and charter flights. We will generate enough revenue in the high season to secure liquidity throughout the year. This is the plan we are pursuing. We have already increased the number of passengers during the low season. Given the demand we are already seeing on our charter and scheduled flights, we expect a successful year". The CEO noted that the airline is exploring new markets as well. "We are always exploring possibilities for new destinations and new markets. Currently, we are more focused on improving existing services. We have added flights to Amsterdam, Sarajevo, Podgorica and Vienna".

According to Mr Schuster, since the first year of 4K Invest's takeover of Adria, emphasis was put on the restructuring effort, as well as stabilising the business, while this year will be devoted to growth and improvements in service quality. "Of course, the restructuring cannot be completed overnight but we are on the right path", the CEO said. Adria Airways handled 227.588 passengers during the first quarter of this year, an increase of 8.3% compared to the same period in 2016. It anticipates for that growth to continue throughout the year after it boosted frequencies on key routes this summer.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Belgrade Airport concession advances

Twenty-five out of 27 interested parties have qualified to take part in the submission of non-binding bids for a 25-year concession to operate Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport. The Serbian government last week extended the deadline for the submission of the non-binding offers. Originally set for April 13, the bidders will now have until May 15 to submit their proposals for financing, development and managing of the airport. "Upon the request of the majority of qualified participants, and taking into account the fact that a vast number of questions have been filed for the clarification of the set requirements, the Public Body has decided to extend the deadline for the submission of non-binding bids. While making such a decision, the Public Body followed the principles of the PPP [Public Private Partnership] Law and specifically, the principle of equal and just treatment and free market competition, so as to allow all qualified participants sufficient time to prepare their non-binding bids", the airport said in a statement. Despite the extension, the selection of the new concessionaire will not be delayed as the state will cut down on the time set to make their decision.

A total of 27 companies have applied to take part in the process, however, two have been rejected since they did not meet the necessary requirements. They are the Shenzhen Airport Group from China and Egis Airport Operation from France. The 25 who have met all the criteria and are taking part in the first phase of bidding are: Terna Gek Terna Group (Greece), Incheon International Airport (South Korea), China National Aero - Technology & HNA Airport Group Consortium (China), Manchester Airport Group (United Kingdom), Airports of Regions Management Company (Russia), IC Altyapı (Turkey), Mitsubishi Corporation (Japan), Hubco Netherlands and Ferrovial Airports (Spain), Eiffage (France), Zurich Airport (Switzerland), Meridiam (France), Vinci Airports (France), GMR Infrastructure Limited (India), Cengiz Holding Consortium (Turkey), Milano Linate (Italy), Strabag (Austria), CEE Equity Partners (Poland), Herbert Smith Freehills CIS (Russia), J&P - Avax (Greece), Fraport (Germany), China State Construction Engineering Corporation (China), Jiangsu Nantong Sanjian Construction Group (China), Mapa Insaat (Turkey), Novaport Invest (Russia) and Promova Limited (Cyprus). Following the submission of their non-binding bids, the state will have ten days to decide who has qualified for the second phase, which entails the submission of binding bids. A total of 75 days have been set for this part of the concession process.

The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, said the outcome of the concession tender should be known during the second half of the year. "Our expectations are that in the second half of the year, or the third quarter, we will have a clear idea of whether the submitted offers are such that we can award a concession". She added, "Our goal is to find a partner who is willing to invest based on the strategy and plan drafted by the state which will help us develop the airport into a regional player. The government's vision is for our country to become a transit hub for the region and the first choice for investors that want to put their capital in this part of Europe. Not only does the increased development at Nikola Tesla Airport confirm this, but it also demonstrates the pace at which we are approaching our goal".

Friday, April 21, 2017

Croatia seeks Far East flights

The Croatian Minister for Tourism, Gari Cappelli, has said the country is looking to secure flights from Far East Asia in order to better cater for the growing number of tourists from the region. Mr Cappelli singled out South Korea, Japan and China as key markets. Currently, Korean Air and Japan's ANA serve Croatia through summer charters to Zagreb and Dubrovnik respectively. The minister noted that crisis-hit holiday destinations in North Africa and Europe are beginning to recover, which is why Croatia must do more to attract tourists from Asia. "We have to be prepared that some countries are returning to the scene and will try to attract consumers with low prices. That is why we are turning towards the Asian market, primarily Korea, Japan and China, where we are concentrating a lot of our efforts. We might see direct flights between China and Zadar", Mr Cappelli said.

China Southern Airlines recently commenced talks with Zadar Airport over the possible introduction of flights from its main base in Guangzhou. It marks Zadar Airport's second attempt at establishing services to China following a failed effort in 2014 with Hainan Airlines. Talks are said to have gone "very well", with China Southern requesting additional technical data. However, Guangzhou Airport has noted it would contact other carriers if China Southern decided against launching the service. "In addition to flights, we plan to open the office of the Chamber of Commerce and even our Tourist Board in China. The arrival of Chinese guests would guarantee a stronger pre and post season because they are not interested in the beaches", the Minister said. China's Ambassador to Croatia emphasised the need for direct flights to be established between the two counties in order to attract more tourists. Despite plans from Beijing Capital Airlines to launch services to Zagreb this June, they are unlikely to materialise.

Korean Air plans to maintain its summer charters between Seoul and Zagreb this year. It is believed the airline is considering operating scheduled year-long flights in the foreseeable future. The two countries recently concluded a Bilateral Air Service Agreement, which allows for the South Korean national carrier to operate daily flights to the city and offers the potential for more codeshare agreements between airlines operating out of both countries. "By concluding this agreement, the primary assumption is that regular nonstop flights between our two countries will be established”, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The Croatian Minister for Tourism added, “We are seeking to establish regular flights to Korea to cater to a surging number of Korean tourists visiting Croatia. Korea is the most important market for us in Asia”.

Air Serbia to launch major system upgrade



Air Serbia will upgrade its systems for passenger sales and check-in this weekend, which will cause some planned interruptions to normal services provided by the airline. The new system will improve Air Serbia’s service capability in a number of areas, including its website, bookings process, and check-in procedures. All flights and airport check-in counters will operate as normal and the system upgrade will in no way impact the on flight operations. However, on Saturday April 22 purchasing tickets and bookings (online, through the call centre or travel agents) will be unavailable. Furthermore, passengers will be unable to check-in online or change or cancel a booking. These services will resume on Saturday evening. Air Serbia has described the upgrade as a "step change" in its business. By migrating to Sabre’s software, the carrier will be able to streamline daily operations, reduce operating costs, strengthen revenue generation and retailing, and drive more ancillary revenue opportunities, enabling it to provide passengers with a more personalised service.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ljubljana Airport unveils new terminal

Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport has announced the construction of a second terminal building at a press conference in the Slovenian capital today. The new facility, valued at sixteen million euros, will be opened to the public in time for the 2020 summer season, which begins on March 29 that year. The construction of the new structure will allow for the airport to handle 1.280 passengers per hour, up from the current 500, and will feature a total of 22 check-in desks, five security lanes, a large duty free shop, commercial space, as well as a new premium lounge. The building will stretch over an area of 8.700 square metres. A new 2.000 square metre baggage sorting facility will also be built. The existing terminal will remain partially in use and will be utilised by low cost and charter carriers. Ljubljana Airport's General Manager, Zmago Skobir, said this is part of the airport's efforts to provide product differentiation to allow further passenger growth.

The General Manager noted, "A modular solution is planned for the terminal. This means that construction can be carried out in phases that are effectively and efficiently adapted to traffic development needs. At the same time, a convenient and high-quality passenger experience will also be provided”. The current terminal building in use at Ljubljana Airport was built in 1973 but has since been reconstructed and refurbished. It stretches over an area of 13.000 square metres. The new facility will be built next to the existing one, towards Šenčur, and will be connected to it. The company running the airport, Aerodrom Ljubljana, which is 100%-owned by Germany's Fraport, also announced a change in its name to Fraport Slovenija, in order to increase its international visibility and appeal. “Airports are of course important to the local area but at the same time they operate in a highly competitive international business environment. We believe that the Fraport brand will bring added value to the international visibility, image and business status of our Slovenian subsidiary”, Christoph Nanke, Chairman of the Investor's Committee of Fraport Slovenija, said.

Ljubljana is facing increasing competition from nearby airports which are investing heavily in improving their infrastructure. "Fraport is development-oriented, but has a very cautious and conservative development policy. The fact is that we now have a strategic owner who has a great understanding of the development process", Mr Skobir, said. As a result, the overhaul of the existing terminal should begin this autumn and it should be fitted with new technology. Ljubljana was the only capital city airport in the former Yugoslavia to see its passenger numbers decline in 2016. It handled 1.404.831 travellers, down 2.3% on the year before. However, it is off to a strong start this year with 288.355 passengers welcomed during the first quarter, up 17.5%. The airport's management estimates that growth will average 3.1% on an annual basis in the coming years.