Thursday, February 23, 2017

Croatia Airlines to announce expansion


Croatia Airlines will announce its expansion plans for the 2017 summer season in the coming days. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News the carrier said, "By Friday, or the beginning of next week at the latest, we will announce novelties in our summer 2017 timetable". The airline is considering new services to Stockholm, Moscow, Dublin and Oslo. In 2016, the carrier rolled out four new seasonal routes out of Zagreb (Lisbon, Prague, Milan and St Petersburg), which are all to resume this summer and will be extended into the winter months. "The new destinations all proved so successful, that we are going to keep them all", the company said recently. It is also likely that the airline will introduce seasonal flights between Split and Milan.

Croatia Airlines has previously operated flights to both Stockholm and Moscow. The two weekly service to the Swedish capital was maintained during the 1990s with a Boeing 737-200 aircraft but the route was later suspended. Yesterday, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced it would introduce up to two weekly flights between Stockholm and the Croatian capital from June 10. On the other hand, plans to launch flights to Moscow were initially made in 2011, however, the implementation of the restructuring program put an east-bound expansion on hold. Currently, Aeroflot maintains flights between the two cities. Late last year, Croatia Airlines operated charters between Osijek and Dublin to evaluate the route's potential. There is a growing Croatian diaspora in Ireland. It is unclear whether the planned new destinations would run on a seasonal or year-round basis.

The airline has previously said it is looking to add a 100-seat regional aircraft to its fleet, which would be required in order for the carrier to expand its network. The company will lease a Trade Air Fokker 100 jet for a second year in a row, however, it is uncertain whether additional planes will be taken up. Meanwhile, the Croatian carrier will continue to maintain nine weekly flights to London Heathrow Airport this summer despite selling its slots to Delta Air Lines, with the deal to come into effect from April 1. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, Croatia Airlines has leased back the slots until the end of October.

Aegean Airlines to launch Podgorica service

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Greece's Aegean Airlines will launch seasonal summer flights between Athens and Podgorica. Services will commence on June 21 and run twice per week, each Wednesday and Sunday, until September 10 with a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop. Podgorica becomes Aegean's latest destinations in the former Yugoslavia following its route to Belgrade and seasonal services to Dubrovnik and Split. Despite launching summer flights to Ljubljana in 2016, the service will not resume this year. Podgorica Airport will see a number of new destinations this summer including Budapest (Wizz Air), Warsaw (LOT Polish Airlines) and Stockholm Skavsta (Ryanair). Further details for Aegean's new route can be found here.

Airlines gear up for Belgrade Tourism Fair

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Several carriers will be taking part at the 2017 Belgrade Tourism Fair, which begins today, with Air Serbia being one of the largest exhibitors. Besides the Serbian carrier, several other airlines that are also taking part in this year's event include Air China, Air Cairo, Aeroflot, Lufthansa, Montenegro Airlines, Ellinair and Turkish Airlines. Air Serbia is offering visitors a chance to win tickets to New York or Venice when they purchase tickets to any destination in its network at the fair. Every 20th visitor who buys a ticket at the Air Serbia stand will receive a return economy class ticket to Venice, while every 100th visitor will win a return economy class ticket to New York, providing they are able to correctly answer a short quiz about the carrier. In 2016, the Tourism Fair attracted more than 1.100 exhibitors from fifty countries and pulled in over 70.000 visitors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Air Serbia to launch Venice service


Air Serbia will commence flights from Belgrade to Venice Marco Polo Airport starting June 1. The Serbian carrier will maintain four weekly services between the two cities, maintaining a split morning and afternoon schedule each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Flights will be operated by an ATR 72 aircraft, offering 560 return seats between the two cities each week. Venice will become Air Serbia's third destination in Italy after Rome and Milan and one of its longest routes operated by a turboprop. The carrier's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, "Our four-weekly service will provide business and leisure travellers with multiple travel options to the Serbian capital, as well as quick connections over Belgrade to Southeast Europe and the Middle East".

The new flights to Venice will be promoted at the upcoming Belgrade Tourism Fair which begins tomorrow. The service will mark the first time Belgrade has been linked with nonstop flights to the Italian city. While JAT Yugoslav Airlines did operate to Venice until the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the flights were maintained from Dubrovnik, launching back in 1963. The Serbian carrier anticipates strong loads on the upcoming route. "More than 55% of the Serbian diaspora in Italy, estimated at up to 70.000 people, live in the catchment area of Venice Marco Polo Airport, and will benefit from this new air link to Serbia. We have established a solid presence in the Italian market and will work with our tourism and trade partners, including Alitalia and Etihad Airways, to make the new service a success”, Mr Kondić said.

Air Serbia previously maintained sales to Venice through its partner Air Berlin with the carrier codesharing on its German counterparts' flights between Dusseldorf and the Italian city. In an interview to "Gulf Business" last year, Mr Kondić highlighted Italy as a market with great potential for Air Serbia. "There’s probably half-a-dozen to a dozen points that we could cover that we haven’t started flying to yet. In Italy, we don’t fly to Florence or Venice, for example. Each airline [Etihad Partners] is focusing on core networks now, then we’ll look for incremental opportunities", Mr Kondić said. Venice becomes the airline's first new destination for the 2017 summer season. It has previously announced it would terminate its operations to Istanbul starting March 15, sighting declining demand for travel to Turkey. Further flight details for the new Belgrade - Venice service can be found here.

Air Serbia and AtlasGlobal launch partnership

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Air Serbia and Turkey's AtlasGlobal have today announced details of a broad commercial partnership that will grow both carrier’s networks. The initial phase of the agreement involves a codeshare deal that will see Air Serbia place its “JU” flight code onto AtlasGlobal’s new daily service between Istanbul Ataturk Airport and Belgrade set to launch on March 15. Following this, and pending government approvals, Air Serbia will also code on AtlasGlobal’s international flights to markets such as Russia, Moldova and Kuwait in the Middle East, as well as domestic flights to additional points in Turkey, all via Istanbul. In return, AtlasGlobal will increase its connectivity by placing its “KK” code on selected Air Serbia regional services in Southeast Europe and its long haul flights to New York. The two carriers are also exploring opportunities to provide passengers frequent flier benefits, including the ability to accrue miles on codeshare flights, and reciprocal premium lounge access at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport and Istanbul Ataturk Airport for eligible travellers.

Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said “We are pleased to form a new partnership with AtlasGlobal, a carrier which shares our commitment to service excellence. This agreement lays the foundation for many areas of collaboration, including a codeshare deal that will maintain our year-round air link to the Turkish market and enable Air Serbia to provide guests with convenient daily connections to Istanbul". He added, “On top of this increase in connectivity, we are actively exploring ways of enhancing the travel experience that would benefit our mutual guests. AtlasGlobal is a great addition to our list of codeshare partners, who have, collectively, expanded our reach to 127 cities, connecting our business and leisure passengers to more destinations than ever before”. Meanwhile, AtasGlobal's Chief Commercial Officer, Semra Erener Ozalcın, said, “We are delighted to work together with Air Serbia to strengthen our upcoming route between Istanbul and Belgrade and look forward to welcoming Air Serbia’s guests onboard our flights. This is the start of a mutually beneficially relationship that we are confident will continue to evolve and strengthen air connectivity between Turkey and Serbia, bringing our people closer and developing trade and tourism”.