|EX-YU airlines plan for an eventful 2016|
Another year has drawn to a close with 2015 setting the tone for what is to come next year in the former Yugoslav aviation sector. Over the past twelve months we bid farewell to B&H Airlines, saw the sale of Adria Airways Tehnika, the introduction of wireless Internet on board Air Serbia flights, new in-flight entertainment from Adria Airways and witnessed historic passenger numbers at airports across the region. In 2016, Adria Airways is expected to finalise its privatisation process, Air Serbia launch transatlantic flights, Croatia Airlines find its feet following four years of restructuring and Montenegro Airlines develop deeper ties with Etihad Airways.
Adria Airways could learn its faith as early as January 19, when a key vote is scheduled to take place concerning an eight million euro capital hike. The company is likely to be sold via the capital increase. Investors will have only nine days to make the payment, meaning the privatisation process is likely to be completed by the end of January. On the other hand, Adria enters the first day of 2016 with the termination of its Ljubljana - Istanbul service but will compensate the suspension with the introduction of new flights from Ljubljana to Cologne, Pristina to London and from Tirana to Munich next summer. Adria will add another aircraft to its fleet in the coming days with the introduction of a second Bombardier CRJ700 jet, registered S5-AAY. Furthermore, the airline will retire its sole CRJ200 during the first quarter.
Air Serbia is gearing up to launch transatlantic flights in 2016 with the introduction of its New York service. It will become the only national carrier in the former Yugoslavia to operate a wide-body aircraft on scheduled services and is set to roll out a new business and economy class product for its Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The Serbian carrier also plans to boost regional operations with additional frequencies, while two cities in the region are being considered as new destinations for 2016. Furthermore, the historic resumption of flights between Belgrade and Pristina is also possible but will depend on the outcome of the political dialogue taking place between the two sides. During the first quarter, Air Serbia will complete the installation of its wireless "Wi-Fly" Internet system across its Airbus fleet.
Croatia Airlines today brings to a close four years of restructuring which has seen it cut down on frequencies and limit its development opportunities. In 2016, the Croatian carrier will focus on growth, with additional flights on existing routes and the launch of new destinations. The airline is considering points in Eastern Europe, initially to countries within the European Union, as well as a possible secondary hub in Sarajevo. Furthermore, Croatia Airlines will kick off its fleet renewal in 2016 with the lease of two 100-seater jets, tipped to be Embraers. A further four will join the fleet in the coming years. The airline's privatisation process will continue into 2016. While the carrier is expected to be sold during the course of the year, it remains to be seen how Croatia's new centre-right government will handle the issue.
Montenegro Airlines enters 2016 with plans to develop its regional network and cut down on losses and debt. New destinations could include Zagreb, Skopje and Pristina, among others, with the carrier also looking to strengthen its cooperation with airlines from neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the Montenegrin carrier is considering introducing charter flights to Prague next summer, as well as additional charters to Germany, namely to Hamburg and Munich. Extra frequencies to Ljubljana, London and St Petersburg are also expected. The airline plans to boost its ties with Etihad Airways in line with the Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Commercial Cooperation the two signed last month. The Emirati carrier has begun screening various parts Montenegro Airlines' business. The national airline has been slated for privatisation in 2016, with Etihad, or one of its partner airlines, a likely contender for a stake.
Skopje Airport has already announced new flights to Bratislava, Berlin and Copenhagen by Wizz Air and Prague by Czech Airlines in 2016. Furthermore, the outcome of negotiations between Ryanair and the Macedonian government are expected to be revealed in the coming months. Arkia Israeli Airlines will become Ohrid Airport's newest customer with seasonal charter services from Tel Aviv to begin on June 1, while another foreign carrier is in the process of negotiating services to the lakeside city. To the north, Pristina Airport is also in talks with several well-known carriers over new flights, with easyJet to launch services from Berlin in March. Meanwhile, Sarajevo Airport will begin the construction of a rapid exit taxiway next year. This will provide aircraft with the opportunity to vacate the runway at higher speeds, permitting another jet to land or depart in a shorter period of time. The investment is valued at two million euros and is the first in a series of infrastructural upgrades at the airport, which also includes the expansion of the apron next year, as well as the planned overhaul of the runway in 2017.
With 365 news items this year, 440 news flashes, 110 vintage photos and a record 2.2 million page visits, that rounds off 2015 for EX-YU Aviation News.
Wherever you are in the world tonight
have a safe, happy and memorable New Year
have a safe, happy and memorable New Year
See you in 2016!