Thursday, July 20, 2017

Adria Airways buys Etihad Regional

Adria Airways has purchased Etihad Airways' upscale Swiss arm Etihad Regional through its new subsidiary Adria Airways Switzerland. Etihad Regional was relaunched in early 2014 to attract Europe's business travellers. Under the terms of the deal, the airline will continue to operate under its current legal name Darwin Airline SA with its own air operator’s certificate (AOC), but will change its marketing brand from Etihad Regional to Adria Airways Switzerland. "The decision to sell this minority stake (33.1%) in Darwin is the result of our current strategic review of our investments and the choice to focus on our other partners", Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at the Etihad Aviation Group, said. Other shareholders have also sold their stake in the business to Adria, which now has 99.1% ownership in the airline. The remaining 0.9% will be acquired shortly. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed, but is being financed by Adria's owners 4K Invest. The parties involved have agreed to maintain confidentiality.

In a statement, Adria Airways' CEO, Arno Schuster, said, "Darwin is an excellent airline with experienced management and staff. Extending our network and, consequently, optimizing cost structures will create a win-win situation for both carriers. Our experienced commercial department will market Darwin’s flights under the brand name Adria Airways Switzerland". Adria's Chief Financial Officer, Heinrich Ollendiek, will become the new CEO of Adria Airways Switzerland. The airline will retain its bases in Lugano and Geneva. Adria Airways will take over some of Darwin’s administrative and operational tasks and will market the Swiss airline’s services. The President of Darwin Airline's Board of Directors, Emilio Martinenghi, said, "Adria Airways, with its extensive expertise, its strong route network, especially in the Southeast European market, will be very beneficial not only to the future of Darwin but also to the Ticino region we serve, which needs good connections with the rest of Switzerland and throughout Europe". He added, "Darwin Airline is well capitalised and solvent, thus able to honour all of its commitments to creditors".

Darwin Airline was founded in 2003 with the prime aim of connecting the southern part of Switzerland, the Ticino, and its economy with the country’s main Zurich and Geneva financial centers and airline hubs. Following the acquisition of 33.3% of its shares by Etihad Airways, Darwin joined the Etihad Group of airlines in 2014 and adopted the Etihad Regional marketing name. It uses a fleet of six fifty-seat Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft, as well as four ATR 72s, which are currently being operated on behalf of Alitalia. The airline runs flights across Europe, offering passengers direct connections to dozens of major cities. It also taps into a half-dozen points served by Etihad and its codeshare partners Air Berlin and Air Serbia. Etihad's sale of its stake in Etihad Regional represents its first divestment since launching a company-wide strategic review last year of its shareholdings in other carriers. When launching Etihad Regional in January 2014, the former Etihad CEO, James Hogan, described the deal as "a step-change" for the business.

4K Invest, a turnaround fund from Munich, signed a contract for the purchase of a 91.58% stake in Adria Airways at a price of 100.000 euros early last year. It later bought the remaining stake in the Slovenian carrier in order to secure 100% ownership. The transaction marked its first investment in the aviation sector. Since its purchase of Adria, 4K has brought in several new aircraft, boosted the airline's flight network, closed the carrier's base in Poland, ended a commercial cooperation agreement with Estonia's Nordica and has attempted to reduce the company's losses. However, it is yet to publish Adria's 2016 financial report. Late last year, Adria named Captain Tiziano Ponseggi, the former Director of Operations at Etihad Regional, as its new Chief Commercial Officer.

Podgorica Airport maintains strong growth


Podgorica Airport has continued to post impressive passenger growth by handling 112.199 travellers in June, an increase of 21.8% on last year. During the first half of 2017, passenger numbers stood at 417.862, representing growth of 23.5%. The majority of passengers using the airport were on flights to and from Belgrade, followed by the German, Turkish and Italian markets. A number of new destinations have been launched from the Montenegrin capital this summer including Budapest (Wizz Air), Warsaw (LOT Polish Airlines), Athens (Aegean Airlines) and Stockholm Skavsta (Ryanair).

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN50.799 23.4
FEB46.738 18.8
MAR56.052 22.1
APR72.493 37.1
MAY79.581 19.1
JUN112.199 21.8

Zagreb Airport nominated for architecture award


Zagreb Airport's new terminal building has been shortlisted for an award at the World Architecture Festival, which will take place in Berlin between November 15 and 17. Zagreb Airport was nominated in the transport category for best new building. It will face off against the new international terminal at Los Angeles Airport, the Oslo Airport terminal expansion, West Terminal 2 at Helsinki Airport, Wellington International Airport Terminal South Extension in New Zealand and the new Astana Train Station, to name a few. The new terminal in Zagreb, opened this March, was designed by Croatian architects Branko Kincl, Velimir Neidhardt and Jure Radić. The 236 million euro facility stretches over 65.860 square metres and three levels. Over 1.000 workers were involved in the project's construction each day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Qatar Airways to continue EX-YU growth

Qatar Airways has said it will continue growing its presence in the former Yugoslavia following the Monday launch of its service to Skopje. The Doha-based airline confirmed that flights to Sarajevo should go ahead next month despite tickets still being unavailable for purchase. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Qatar Airways' Chief Commercial Officer, Ehab Amin, said, "Flights will start soon. We are getting full support from the government, the civil aviation authorities and airport authorities. Of course, each operation has its own limitations. As we speak, some of our people are heading to Sarajevo for final discussions and, hopefully, within the coming days, we will announce this route". The carrier previously said it would commence operations to the Bosnian capital on August 16.

Qatar Airways recently upped frequencies to Zagreb and Belgrade and deployed additional capacity on both routes. In response to increasing demand, flights to Zagreb have increased from a ten weekly service to double daily. Initially planned only to run during July, the additional frequencies have now been extended throughout the summer. Meanwhile, services to Belgrade will be boosted with an additional three weekly services, for a total of seven per week, starting August 1. Furthermore, the equipment used on the route will be upgauged from an Airbus A320 to an A321 aircraft. A further frequency increase is expected this winter. Mr Amin noted that the Balkans represents an important market for Qatar Airways. "We feel that the Balkans are underserved and we would like to provide countries in the Balkans with a five star product they deserve. That is why we are focusing on such markets with high opportunities, which benefits both sides, the people in these countries and Qatar Airways as well. We will continue to seek opportunities in this region".

Qatar Airways' inaugural service to Doha operated with a 100% load factor, with almost half of the travellers on board hailing from countries other than Macedonia, most notably from Asia. The airline is primarily pitching the flights to the Macedonian diaspora in Australia, but will seek other types of passengers as well. "We are here to serve different kinds of customers. These include labour traffic and VFR (visiting family and relatives). We will also go for those seeking medical treatments, point to points traffic, as well as for transit on this route. With our new visa facility allowing Macedonian citizens to transit Doha and get visa for free for four days or get a visit visa valid for thirty days on arrival, it's an added value for Macedonian passengers", Mr Amin concluded.

Adria welcomes seventh CRJ900


Adria Airways on Monday welcomed its thirteenth fleet member and seventh Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. As previously reported, the jet, which already carries the registration S5-AFA, is on lease from Regional One and previously operated under the registration EC-JNB for Air Nostrum (Iberia Regional). The aircraft is set to enter commercial service after it undergoes repainting.

Photos courtesy of Milan Korbar