Friday, March 24, 2017

Air Serbia's JFK route "long-term investment"


The President and CEO of the Etihad Aviation Group, James Hogan, has said that Air Serbia's service between Belgrade and New York's JFK Airport, launched nine months ago, is a "long-term investment", which will take several years to achieve its full potential. Speaking to the "Blic" daily, Mr Hogan said, "The introduction of flights to New York is a long-term investment for Air Serbia. Such routes usually take three to five years to achieve optimal results. What you get from the service to New York is an important air bridge between the United States, Belgrade and other destinations. If you take into account the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and if you take low cost carriers out of the picture, because we are not one of them, Air Serbia is, in my opinion, one of the leading smaller brands. That is not a bad result for just three and a half years".

Commenting on future expansion, Mr Hogan said, "It's not all about expansion. It is important for a company to be of the right size and form. In the past, many companies expanded too quickly and then collapsed. It is important that we strengthen what we have and make it more functional in the right way. Air Serbia has a good image, good people and good operational results. There is room for improvement in a commercial sense but it is important for Air Serbia to continue developing. It is very important to sell Belgrade as a tourist destination". Last January Mr Hogan said the Serbian carrier could expand its footprint in North America in two to three years. "We have already considered flights to Chicago and Toronto and these services could be introduced in two to three years. First off, the New York route must become functional. We don't want to make a decision that would set Air Serbia back", Mr Hogan said at the time.

Passenger numbers on Air Serbia's New York route have been 40% above the business plan within the first half year of operations, although yields haven't performed as hoped for, due to less Americans travelling on the route to Europe for fear of terror attacks, according to the airline. As a result, the carrier has reduced frequencies to New York from five weekly flights to three weekly outside of the peak summer travel season. Furthermore, the airline has said it will not take on additional long haul aircraft for the time being. Serbia's Prime Minister has previously noted that the airline's New York route would become profitable within three years of operations.

No deal between Adria pilots and management

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Adria Airways pilots and the company's management have failed to reach an agreement on the terms of a new collective agreement following two days of industrial action. As services return to normal, pilots will decide on further industrial action at the beginning of next week. Previously, it was announced that another two-day strike would take place on April 27 and 28 if no agreement is reached by then. The head of the pilot's union, Marjan Majcen, noted that some progress has been made in the distribution of working days and that fresh talks would take place next Wednesday. Terms of the previous collective agreement expired at the end of February and the union has accused the management of plans to scale back a range of rights and obligations. For its part, the management has refused to comment on the matter or reveal how much the two-day strike, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, cost the carrier.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ljubljana Airport poised for new terminal


The operator of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, Fraport, has adopted plans for the construction of a new passenger terminal according to the daily "Finance". Plans for the new facility are expected to be announced next month, with the project valued between fifteen and twenty million euros. Previously, Ljubljana Airport's General Manager, Zmago Skobir, said a decision on whether a second terminal would be built would be made by the end of March. In 2013, minority shareholders, which have since been squeezed out, rejected plans for the construction of a 57 million euro new terminal building. The new facility was meant to cover an area of 31.200 square metres, with its opening planned for 2015. Following Fraport's takeover, the construction of a new terminal was put on hold with greater focus put on revamping existing facilities.

Commenting on plans for the new terminal in more detail, Mr Skobir said last month, "The owners [Fraport] will make a decision by the end of March. The terminal would expand towards Šenčur and would be slightly smaller than the one previously planned. However, beforehand, it is necessary to look at all the calculations. We are in a better position now because the trends have changed, Adria Airways has a new owner and there is a greater understanding of the investment". He added, "The construction of the new terminal would cost fifteen to twenty million euros, which is slightly lower than originally planned, but work could begin immediately". Ljubljana is facing increased competition from nearby airports which are investing heavily in improving their infrastructure.

Ljubljana Airport is also expected to begin work on revamping its existing terminal this autumn. "Under current plans, the overhaul of the existing terminal would begin this autumn and it should be fitted with new technology. We have already made some quick fixes to improve passenger flow", Mr Skobir noted. Earlier this week, the Fraport Group reported that Ljubljana Airport's net profit fell 23.1% in 2016 to two million euros. Revenues increased 3.4% to 36 million euros. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased almost 24% to 14.5 million euros, while earnings before interest and taxes increased 2.7 million to 4.4 million euros.

Tuzla Airport overhaul plans advance

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Tuzla Airport has commenced tender procedures for securing a long-term loan to finance the overhaul of its terminal building. The airport is seeking 1.2 million euros, with the deadline for the submission of bids set for April 12. The airport plans to expand its terminal from 2.971 square metres to 4.915 square metres. The added capacity will enable it to handle 800 passengers per hour, up from the current 400. Originally, the project was planned to be completed by April this year, however, construction work is now expected to start after the finances are secured. Tuzla, which serves as a base for Wizz Air, is expected to welcome over 400.000 travellers this year.

Croatia Airlines boosts Oslo service

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Croatia Airlines will add a third weekly flight on its planned new Zagreb - Oslo service, which is set to commence on May 21. An additional weekly departure will run on Tuesday, complementing the planned Thursday and Sunday flights. The new service will be operated with a wet-leased Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft from Iberia Regional. Jasper Spruit, the Vice President for Traffic Development at Oslo Airport's operator Avinor, said, "Croatia is an attractive market for both Norwegian tourists and industry, with Zagreb being close to many attractive summer destinations. We are glad to have Croatia Airlines on our team and we believe this route will be popular". The additional weekly flight indicates better than expected booking on the service. The carrier's CEO, Krešimir Kučko, noted, "We are pleased that we will establish flights between our two countries for the first time in Croatia Airlines' history. The Norwegian market has great potential and that is why we will be offering the fastest connections to South-eastern Europe". Further flight details can be found here.