Thursday, September 21, 2017

Royal Air Maroc plans Belgrade service

Serbia and Morocco are speeding up procedures for the establishment of nonstop flights after Royal Air Maroc said it was prepared to launch flights to Belgrade. The two sides signed a revised Air Service Agreement last Friday, updating the pact which regulates air traffic between the two nations for the first time since 1964. The Moroccan Ambassador to Serbia, Mohammed Amine Belhaj, confirmed that the kingdom's national carrier has expressed interest to introduce flights between Casablanca and the Serbian capital during the 2018 summer season. "The new flights will certainly increase the number of Serbian tourists visiting Morocco and vice versa. In addition to the launch of this service, we are exploring the possibility of charter flights with Serbian tour operators. There is demand from both sides", Mr Belhaj said.

Last week, the Moroccan Minister for Tourism, Mohammed Sajid, held talks in Belgrade with the Serbian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajić, in a bid to boost cooperation between the two countries in various sectors including tourism. During the meeting, the two sides welcomed the signing of the Air Service Agreement and called on the private sector and tourism professionals to explore all opportunities for cooperation. Furthermore, the two agreed for the development of an expanded cooperation programme in the tourism sector. Mr Ljajić will visit Morocco before the end of this year to finalise details over the establishment of flights between the two countries.

There have never been nonstop services between Belgrade and any point in Morocco. The north African nation had strained relations with the former Yugoslavia due to the latter's recognition of the breakaway territory of Western Sahara (Sahrawi Republic) as an independent state. However, Serbia reversed the recognition in 2004. Currently, Belgrade Airport is served only by two African carriers on a year-round basis, with Tunis Air maintaining services from Tunis and Air Cairo from Hurghada. Last year, Air Serbia said it saw potential in North Africa as a possible market in the future, noting that it is home to destinations that are within a two-and-a-half hour radius from Belgrade, which could be served by the upcoming Airbus A320neo aircraft. On the other hand, Royal Air Maroc boasts a fleet of 56 aircraft and an extensive domestic and international network. It has a broad codeshare agreement in place with Air Serbia's part-owner Etihad Airways.

Croatia Airlines seeking first officers


Croatia Airlines has posted a vacancy for a first officer position on its Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 fleet. Interested candidates must be at least 21 years of age, proficient in English, in possession of a valid commercial pilot license with ME and IR rating, as well as multi crew coordination. The application deadline has been set for October 2. Further requirements and conditions, as well as the application form, can be found here.

Norwegian upgrades Zagreb service


Norwegian Air Shuttle has upgraded its seasonal summer flights between Copenhagen and Zagreb to year-round operations. The airline will maintain one weekly flight between the two cities over the upcoming winter, each Saturday morning. The route will complement its year-round flights between Stockholm and the Croatian capital which were launched this summer. Norwegian will compete against Croatia Airlines on the Copenhagen service. The Croatian carrier will maintain daily flights between the two cities this winter, up from six weekly last year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Brussels Airlines to launch new EX-YU routes in 2018

Brussels Airlines will launch two new routes to the former Yugoslavia and strengthen frequencies on existing destinations in the region next year but will also downgrade operations to Zagreb from year-round to seasonal summer services. The Belgian national carrier will introduce flights from Brussels to Tivat and Split in 2018. Services to the Montenegrin coast will operate once per week, each Thursday, while flights to Split will run twice per week, each Wednesday and Saturday, the airline told EX-YU Aviation News. The exact launch date and ticket sales will be released soon. Furthermore, Brussels Airlines plans to strengthen its seasonal summer flights to Dubrovnik with an additional weekly flight for a total of three, each Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.

On the other hand, after two years of year-round operations to Zagreb, Brussels Airlines will downgrade its services to the Croatian capital and will run flights only during the summer season. Its last flight to Zagreb for this year has been scheduled for November 5, leaving its fellow Star Alliance partner Croatia Airlines as the sole operator on the route. "We have indeed decided not to operate flights to Zagreb in the winter season but we will relaunch our flight schedule in the spring of 2018 at the start of the IATA summer season 2018 [late March]. During the winter season we continue to offer flights to Zagreb through our codeshare and Star Alliance partner Croatia Airlines and through our sister airlines of the Lufthansa Group", Brussels Airlines' Vice President for External Communication, Geert Sciot, told EX-YU Aviation News.

Brussels Airlines has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia with its only year-round route ending this autumn. Last year, Andreas Weingartner, who was then Brussels Airlines' General Manager for Central Europe, Balkans, Russia and Offline Europe, said, "The Balkan market is still relatively untapped and is new for us, but it certainly has growth potential. Initially, we always introduce flights to countries which are already members of the European Union. On our flights from Vienna, we have many transfer passengers from the Balkans". Earlier this year the carrier said it was considering potential flights to Sarajevo and Banja Luka but has backed away from such plans. In December 2016, the Lufthansa Group took a 100% stake in Brussels Airlines, in a deal to fully integrate the Belgian carrier into Lufthansa’s Eurowings Group in 2018.

Eurowings cancels new Skopje service


Low cost airline Eurowings has cancelled plans to launch flights between Munich and Skopje, which were to commence on October 31. Services were to run twice per week, each Tuesday and Friday. The airline has suspended ticket sales for the route. The Lufthansa subsidiary confirmed to EX-YU Aviation News it is shelving the planned flights, adding, "As the expectations regarding the economic efficiency of the route were not fulfilled, the service between Munich and Skopje is cancelled for now. Since routes are constantly being revaluated, this may change in the future". Recently, Eurowings announced it was also cancelling its planned new service between Dusseldorf and Sarajevo, which was to launch on November 2.