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.

Germania Flug to end Niš service

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Germania Flug will discontinue flights between Zurich and Niš at the start of the 2017/18 winter season on October 29, some four months after introducing the service. The airline will maintain several flights during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, after which all operations to the city will be discontinued. Germania Flug faced strong competition on the route from Swiss International Air Lines. The Swiss national carrier will continue flying between Zurich and Niš throughout the winter and has announced plans to boost frequencies on the service next summer from two to three per week. Niš Airport anticipates handling some 330.000 passengers this year and recently outlined its future growth plans.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

EX-YU airports handle over 17 million passengers


Airports across the former Yugoslavia have handled over seventeen million passengers during the first eight months of 2017, with Split, Podgorica and Ljubljana continuing to show significant growth among larger airports in the region. This year will mark the first time at least eight airports will handle over a million travellers as Tivat joins the list this September. Airports of Montenegro, which runs both Tivat and Podgorica, has said it anticipates for the latter to also welcome a million flyers. "We expect to handle a combined total of around two million passengers this year at our two airports. The largest share of travellers passing through Podgorica Airport came from the Serbian, German, Turkish and Italian markets, while the Russian market is still dominant in Tivat", the operator said in a statement.

EX-YU airport results, JAN - AUG 2017

AirportPAXChange (%)
Belgrade3.583.371 8.9
Split2.123.209 23.6
Zagreb2.035.137 10.6
Dubrovnik1.695.464 17.9
Pristina1.298.706 13.6
Skopje1.223.630 10.6
Ljubljana1.117.497 20.6
Tivat854.028 16.2
Podgorica713.392 21.1
Sarajevo668.338 14.1

Croatian airports have seen a bumper summer season, with almost all recording strong passenger growth so far in 2017. Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar registered their strongest year on record. 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.

AirportPAXChange (%)
Pula450.930 31.4
Zadar443.875 17.4
Tuzla353.423 72.7
Niš213.215 321.7
Ohrid115.435 11.6
Rijeka103.096 3.6
Mostar30.786 18.3
Osijek25.321 20.0
Banja Luka14.745 3.9

Fraport Slovenia, the operator of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, has revised up its passenger growth forecast into the low double-digit percentage range for the year following a string of strong results. "This growth was due to, on the one hand, the arrival of new airlines and, on the other hand, a significant increase in capacity utilisation by Adria Airways", Fraport said. Meanwhile, Tuzla Airport has recorded spectacular growth, handling 353.423 passengers during the first eight months of the year, up 72.7% on 2016. Growth was fuelled by Wizz Air's expansion in the city. It's counterpart in Niš has also seen its numbers soar, growing over 300%. "With the introduciton of new routes by the end of the year, such as Ryanair's service from Stockholm Skavsta, we anticipate handling 330.000 passengers in 2017", Niš Airport said in a statement.

SkyWork Airlines secures Kosovo contract

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Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines has won a military contract to transport personnel and army staff from Berne to Pristina. The carrier will operate the route twice per week starting this October in order to shuttle members of Swisscoy, the association of Swiss armed forces in Kosovo. Every two weeks flights to Pristina will make a stop in Sarajevo for the army contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The deal is significant for SkyWork which has struggled with its finances for years. All flights will be operated with the fifty-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. SkyWork previously ran scheduled flights to several cities in the former Yugoslavia, including Belgrade and Zagreb. Today it maintains seasonal summer services from Berne to Rijeka and Zadar on the Croatian coast.

Sarajevo eyes Beijing flights

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The Mayors of Sarajevo and Beijing have discussed the establishment of flights between the two cities. The head of Beijing, Chen Jining, showed particular interest in the matter, noting that services between the two capitals would significantly boost tourism. The two sides agreed for the relevant authorities from each country to continue talks over potential flights. Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to join Serbia and Montenegro in a regional tourism initiative aimed at attracting Chinese travellers. Currently, tourists arriving on Hainan Airlines' recently launched service to Belgrade continue their journey to Montenegro following several days in Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to become the third destination on the tour of the region which will offer a "Paths of Walter" package based on the Yugoslav Partisan film "Walter Defends Sarajevo", which is to this day immensely popular in China.