Thursday, January 19, 2017

EX-YU airport race 2016

Last year proved to be the busiest for airports across the former Yugoslavia with over 21 million passengers handled. With exception to Ljubljana, all of the top ten busiest airports saw record figures. Dubrovnik was the fastest growing among the larger airports, with an annual growth rate of 17.7%, while Podgorica was the fastest growing capital city airport, boosting its passenger numbers by 16.6% on the year before. For the first time, three airports handled over two million travellers in a single year. Compared to 2015, Podgorica Airport overtook Sarajevo, while Skopje recorded the highest passenger growth rate over the past decade among the capitals.

AirportPassengers 2016Passengers 2015Change (%)2006-16
Belgrade4.924.9924.776.110 3.1 121.6
Zagreb2.766.0872.587.798 6.9 74.8
Split2.289.9871.995.400 17.1 109.0
Dubrovnik1.993.2431.693.934 17.7 77.9
Pristina1.743.2081.549.198 12.5 97.5
Skopje1.649.3741.452.375 13.6 201.4
Ljubljana1.404.8311.438.304 2.3 5.3
Tivat982.558895.006 9.8 117.7
Podgorica873.278748.899 16.6 128.7
Sarajevo838.966772.851 8.5 80.0

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport maintained its position as the busiest in the former Yugoslavia, while Niš Airport, in Serbia's south-east, welcomed a record 124.917 travellers. Belgrade expects to surpass the five million passenger mark this year and has recorded strong January growth so far into the month. In addition, Niš Airport anticipates doubling its figures this year with both Swiss International Air Lines and Germania to launch services over the summer. On the other hand, Podgorica Airport surpassed its traditionally busier counterpart in Sarajevo, reassuming its position as the ninth busiest in the former Yugoslavia after three years. It saw a total of 429.586 arrivals and 443.692 departures. Ryanair will launch a new service from Stockholm Skavsta to the Montenegrin capital during 2017, while LOT Polish Airlines will commence seasonal flights from Warsaw this year as well.

AirportPassengers 2016Passengers 2015Change (%)2006-16
Zadar520.924487.652 6.8 696.2
Pula436.121359.426 21.3 47.6
Tuzla310.286259.074 19.7-
Ohrid145.002107.936 34.5 188.1
Rijeka143.084133.564 7.1 14.2
Niš124.91736.258 244.5 251.7
Portorož23.78322.975 3.5-
Brač12.3548.868 39.3 31.2
Maribor8.89024.886 64.3 20.6

Croatian airports recorded their busiest year with Split handling over two million travellers for the first time. Its passenger growth over the past decade has proven equally impressive with an increase of over 100% since 2006. Meanwhile, Zagreb Airport anticipates for its numbers to continue to grow into 2017 with Monarch Airlines, Emirates and Beijing Capital Airlines to introduce flights to the Croatian capital this year, while another carrier is poised to announce services between Zagreb and New York shortly.

Skopje Alexander the Great Airport registered another record year with 1.649.376 passengers handled. "We are satisfied that we have managed to accomplish double digit passenger growth on an annual level, which is higher than both the EU and regional average. We will continue in the same direction in 2017, focusing on our main goals such as route network expansion at Skopje and Ohrid airports, and cooperation with the government, competent aviation authorities and airlines", The General Manager of airport operator TAV Macedonia said. Istanbul (both Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports) was the busiest route in and out of Skopje, holding a 12.6% passenger share, followed by Zurich with 10.2%, Vienna with 6.3%, Basel with 5%, Malmo with 4.8% and London with a 4.3% passenger share. Wizz Air handled the largest number of passengers, boasting a 54.8% market share, followed by Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Germania Flug, Pegasus Airlines and Edelweiss. Cargo traffic at Skopje Airport also saw significant growth with 3.090 tons processed, up 10.9% on the year before. The increase was mostly a result of growth in exports, but also an increase in individual orders through the Internet. Since 2006, Skopje Airport's passenger numbers have grown 201%.

Ryanair hiring in Ljubljana


Europe's largest airline, Ryanair, will be hiring Slovenian cabin crew members. The carrier will host a recruitment day in Ljubljana on February 10. Requirements include a good knowledge of English, both written and spoken, an EU passport and good computer skills. Selected candidates will take part in an intensive six week training course which covers all aspects of the job from passenger safety to customer service. It should be noted that a fee is associated with the training process, although can be deducted from the salary later. Successful applicants will receive "a highly competitive package" including a three-year contract, staff travel rates and a €1.200 'new joiner's allowance'. Further requirements and the registration form can be found here.

TUIfly to launch Brač flights


Leisure carrier TUIfly Belgium will introduce services from Brussels Airport to the island of Brač during the 2017 summer season. Flights will operate once per week, each Tuesday, with an Embraer E190 jet. Operations will commence on May 23 and will run until October 3. Tickets are already on sale. Furthermore, TUIfly will introduce services from Deauville – Normandie Airport, in the North of France, to Brač this summer as well, however, the flights are yet to be scheduled. The new routes are expected to generate an additional 30.000 passengers each year who had previously used Split Airport. Brač Airport is in the process of extending its runway, which will allow it to cater for larger jet-engine aircraft. Work is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2017 summer season, in late March. Further details for the new Brussels - Brač flights can be found here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Air Serbia considering Croatia expansion

Air Serbia is mulling the possibility of introducing flights to both Zadar and the island of Brač in Croatia this year. Speaking to the "Avioradar" portal, the General Manager of Brač Airport, Tonči Peović, said, "We have been in talks with Air Serbia for a number of years. I met with the company's CEO recently. They are interested in flying to Brač. They are considering linking the flights with Zadar. Introducing services from Belgrade is a high priority for them with an ATR 72-500 aircraft". On the other hand, the General Manager of Zadar Airport, Irena Čosić, said last month, "It is unfortunate that we have been unable to introduce direct flights between Zadar and Belgrade with Air Serbia. We have been trying to do so for the past two years and reach an agreement but we have been unsuccessful. There are some higher up forces involved but I hope we will succeed in the end".

News of possible flights between Belgrade and Brač were first made public in 2015 when Croatian media reported that Air Serbia would begin a one weekly seasonal service, each Friday, from the Serbian capital to the island in May of that year. However, the carrier rebuffed the claims, noting it had no immediate plans to fly to Brač. During May 2015, talks between Zadar Airport and Air Serbia began over the potential new service, with Ms Ćosić holding talks with the airline's management. Despite negotiations, the service was never launched. Last year, Zadar Airport told EX-YU Aviation News that the route failed to materialise "partly because of the cancellation of financial support on behalf of the Croatian Tourist Board". It added, "This service would have been a great opportunity for Zadar because we know the route would have excellent loads. Zadar Airport will continue to negotiate and persist in having a Zadar - Belgrade connection just like other Croatian airports, such as Pula, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik".

The new services, if launched, would become Air Serbia’s fifth and sixth destination in Croatia, following Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split and Pula, with the latter three operating during the summer months only. For the upcoming summer season, Air Serbia plans to maintain double daily flights to Zagreb, six wekly to Split and Dubrovnik, as well as four weekly services to Pula. These frequencies are preliminary at this point and may change in the lead-up to the summer season. In contrast, Croatia Airlines runs a seasonal service between Split and Belgrade, which is scheduled to operate three times per week during the 2017 summer season. The last scheduled commercial flight between Zadar and Belgrade was operated by JAT Yugoslav Airlines on August 3, 1991. There have never been services between the Serbian capital and Brač.

Etihad defends equity investment strategy


Air Serbia's part-owner, Etihad Airways, has defended its strategy of investing in a number of airlines, noting that the policy has delivered revenue and synergy benefits. The President and CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, James Hogan, said the Emirati carrier is already seeing a return on investment from Air Serbia, among others. “Our investments had an immediate impact on the revenue side, delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues and allowing us to fill our onward connecting flights. Those benefits have been replicated in all our minority investments – in Air Berlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional", Mr Hogan said yesterday. He added, "We have had some strong results but we also face some significant challenges. Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Etihad Regional have all used our capital investments to help structure their businesses into more efficient and profitable operations. In those cases, our long term investments are already delivering a return. However, we have faced greater challenges with Air Berlin and with Alitalia. Both are operating in very tough competitive environments, and need to address long-standing issues facing their businesses. I believe Air Berlin’s strategy is now on track and Alitalia is finalising a business plan to address its issues". Mr Hogan reiterated that Etihad is committed to its equity partner strategy, noting that, "Some of those airlines need to react to the market pressures they face, and we are supportive of that process". Etihad's strategy of investing in fledgling carriers across the world has been under scrutiny recently with ongoing financial issues at Air Berlin and Alitalia. Etihad yesterday rebuffed speculation it was in talks of taking a 30% - 40% stake in Lufthansa. Late last year, the Emirati carrier also denied rumours it would disinvest from Air Serbia, noting it was "fully committed" to the partnership.