|EX-YU airlines plan for an eventful 2015|
2014 proved to be one of the more eventful years in the aviation industry in the former Yugoslavia. We saw historic passenger growth across EX-YU airports, the resumption of flights between Belgrade and Zagreb, the launch of Europe’s first modern scheduled and commercial seaplane service on our very shores, the rise of Air Serbia, Wizz Air’s growing presence in the region, the privatisation of Ljubljana Airport and the construction of Zagreb Airport’s new terminal finally got underway, just to name a few. 2014 was also the busiest year for EX-YU Aviation News, with the highest number of visits recorded since going online in 2008. Apart from the 365 articles published in 2014, a total of 182 “news flash” items also went online. You can review the trends of the year and what caught your eye the most in 2014 here.
The year ahead will be an important one for the national carriers of the former Yugoslavia, with Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines and Montenegro Airlines all awaiting privatisation and Air Serbia looking to further expand and potentially launch long haul flights. On the other hand, it will be make or break for B&H Airlines which will have to find some sense of direction in the year to come.
The privatisation of Adria Airways is set to begin in the first half of 2015. Mark Anžur, the airline’s CEO, believes it is more likely that the Slovenian carrier will be bought by an investment group, rather than a rival carrier. In 2014, Adria moved away from the traditional flag carrier model and adopted a low cost approach, expanding its reach outside of Slovenia with a new base in Tirana. In 2015, the airline will continue to develop its Tirana base with new routes and open another base in Lodz in Poland. Adria expects to see a 5% increase in passenger numbers in 2015 and will add new flights from Ljubljana as well. The airline will also begin modernising its fleet in the year to come with plans to wet-lease several Bombardier and A320-family aircraft. In March, the carrier will phase out its two remaining CRJ200 jets, with one to be scrapped and the other to be used for special charters. Adria will also face growing competition in Ljubljana next year with Turkish Airlines to boost services from Istanbul from daily flights to ten per week, starting late March, while Air Serbia recently added a second daily flight from Belgrade and increased capacity.
Air Serbia ends the year on a high, becoming the largest and busiest carrier in the former Yugoslavia. In 2015, the airline plans to continue to boost capacity and frequencies across its network, particularly within the region. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, the airline is also considering the lease of additional aircraft to bolster its regional operations. A greater emphasis will be put on customer service in 2015 with on board connectivity to be introduced and a new website to be rolled out. However, all eyes will be on the airline’s planned long haul flights to the United States. Last month, Air Serbia said, “When it comes to our long haul flights, we are currently undertaking a feasibility study and we have, on numerous occasions, said that we hope to launch these services by the end of 2015”. The airline plans to maintain charter operations through its Aviolet brand and Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
Croatia Airlines enters the new year as the most profitable carrier in the former Yugoslavia. 2015 will mark the airline’s final year of restructuring, which has limited its possibilities of expanding. However, the Croatian carrier faces stiff competition in Zagreb with a notable number of foreign airlines introducing services to the city over the past twelve months, and more are expected to follow. Croatia Airlines’ privatisation process is set to gain pace and the government hopes to sell the carrier in the first half of the year, prior to the start of its re-election campaign. The airline will launch new seasonal flights from Rijeka to Munich and Dubrovnik to Nice in 2015 and hopes to handle roughly 1.9 million passengers. It is also considering concluding sale and leaseback agreements of its aircraft, similar to the ones carried out by Adria this year. During 2015, a further rationalisation of the airline’s business is planned through a cut in employee costs and the closure of international offices.
Montenegro Airlines had a difficult year with passenger numbers expected to decline at least 3%. 2014 also marked one of its worst financial performances on record. However, the airline plans to expand its route network next year, in a move aimed at combating increased competition in the region. The Montenegrin carrier is negotiating the launch of flights to Copenhagen via Zagreb and will introduce new seasonal summer services to Lyon and Manchester. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, talks are underway with Pristina Airport, which could see the Montenegrin airline return to the city after a four year hiatus. It also intends on launching a range of charter flights to Germany, as well as Prague and Warsaw, and sell two of its Fokker 100 jets. Plans to privatise the carrier in 2014 did not materialise, however, the CEO of Montenegro Airlines, Daliborka Pejović, recently said, “Montenegro Airlines is in continuous contact with the Privatisation Council and is giving serious consideration to all letters of intent”.
Finally, B&H Airlines bid farewell to its signature route to Istanbul in 2014 but is looking at ways of resuming the service next year. Furthermore, the carrier is considering launching flights to Podgorica and Skopje during the first half of 2015. It recently drafted plans with local authorities and Mostar Airport to launch flights from the city to Italy next year. Services are planned to operate to either Pescara or Ancona and a promotional flight is expected to take place in March. However, B&H Airlines also faces increasing competition at home, with more airlines launching flights to Sarajevo and Wizz Air opening a base in Tuzla. 2015 will also mark the final year of the carrier's financial lease of two ATR 72 aircraft from the Hypo Alpe Adria group and it will be up to the Federation government to consider the airline's future fleet options.
Wherever you are in the world tonight have a great and safe evening
See you in 2015!