Big expectations for 2013
2013 promises to be an exciting and challenging year in EX-YU aviation, with many major developments set to take place over the coming months.
Adria Airways enters 2013 with a new management, increased competition and the aim of breaking even by year end. After cost cutting measures hit passenger numbers in 2012, the Slovenian carrier will hope to win them back during the year. The airline will resume flights to Paris this summer, as well as seasonal flights to London. The carrier is also continuing to expand out of Priština where it has seen much success. While Adria has a commanding market share in Slovenia, it has recently seen some competition with the arrival of the low cost Wizz Air. The no frills airline plans to expand its operations to the Slovenian capital if numbers on its existing services continue to improve. The European Commission is set to rule in the second half on the year whether state aid given to Adria over the past few years was in line with European Union regulations. Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport’s dependence on Adria was visible throughout 2012 with passenger numbers dropping to their lowest levels in eight years. Its performance this year will again heavily depend on development taking place within the national carrier.
In seven months Croatia is set to join the European Union. 2013 is expected to be the year of Croatian airports with huge passenger numbers projected during the summer months. Countless airlines have already scheduled summer flights to the Croatian coast while Ryanair will open a base in Zadar in April. The EU effect is expected to rub off onto Croatia Airlines as well. The carrier will be focusing on its secondary hubs across the country this summer and will be increasing its charter flight offering. However, the airline will also have to deal with increased competition. Whether construction of Zagreb Airport’s new terminal begins in 2013 is anybody’s guess.
In 2012 Skopje finally become a hub airport, with Wizz Air opening its base in the Macedonian capital. It is the first time a scheduled passenger airline has called Skopje its home since the demise of MAT Macedonian Airlines. Naturally, the no frills airline has had much success on its flights from Skopje and plans to expand its route network from the city this year. With Flydubai already scheduling a new weekly frequency to Skopje this summer, passenger numbers could come close to the magic million. On the other hand, Priština Airport is set to open its brand new terminal this year as passenger numbers continue to climb.
After a tough 2012, B&H Airlines will continue its search for a strategic partner with 49% of the airline on offer. Although there was interest in the carrier late last year, the outcome of government talks with interested partners is unknown. B&H also faces increased competition, with Sarajevo Airport set to see passenger numbers surge as new airlines launch flights to the Bosnian capital. On the other hand, Montenegro Airlines expects a similar year to 2012. The airline is not faced with too much competition and privatising the carrier has been ruled out by the government. It is continuing with its restructuring programme and is awaiting the arrival of a new Embraer jet in 2014.
Finally, it will be up to the Serbian government to decide whether it wants to get serious and solve problems which have mounted at Jat Airways in recent years. Originally, it was planned for a successor national carrier to be set up in March, although this now looks unlikely. Furthermore, the airline continues to renegotiate its 1998 aircraft order with Airbus. Will it be another year lost or a year of big changes at Jat remains to be seen.
What is your forecast for airlines and airports in the former Yugoslavia in 2013?