Year in review

The year that was
2008 was a turbulent year for all carriers across the world and the national airlines from the former Yugoslav republics were no exception to this.

Adria Airways – On the whole the national carrier of Slovenia has had a good year, particularly in the first 6 months. During this time the country was running the presidency of the European Union and as a result traffic for the carrier increased significantly. In the second half the carrier strengthened its services to key European destinations, introduced new uniforms and received a brand new CRJ900. The airline has been accused of price fixing on the Ljubljana to Brussels line, despite its denial. Overall Adria will end the year with a profit however the airline’s CEO issued a warning stating that the high petrol prices and the economic crisis will take an effect on Adria in 2009. Next year the airline will have to reroute some of its services to Maribor due to Ljubljana Airport development.

B&H Airlines – The national carrier of Bosnia and Herzegovina has, despite the aviation crisis, had a stable 2008. Although the airline only has 2 aircraft its passenger numbers were mostly stable. In June the airline’s privatisation process began. Although many announced that they would bid, including Croatia Airlines, interest was low and only 3 companies remained in the running when the deadline closed. In October it was announced that Turkish Airlines has won the bid. In return the Turkish carrier has promised to provide 2 short to medium haul aircraft, employee training, servicing of aircraft and hiring new employees while all currently working at the airline will keep their jobs. Therefore 2009 will be crucial in seeing what the new owners will do with the carrier.

Croatia Airlines – The Croatian carrier ends the year as the most successful airline from the EX-YU region, having the most passengers and also ordering new aircraft however it’s been a turbulent year for the carrier. This year Croatia Airlines received 2 Bombardier aircraft and a Dash 8 while orders were placed for 4 Airbus A319s and 2 Q400 NextGen turboprops. The airline’s CEO announced that if the financial crisis takes its toll these aircraft orders will be cancelled. Two ATR42s farewelled the airline this year after more than a decade of service. Mechanical problems and emergency landings put a serious stain over the carrier this year which resulted in negative press. A total of 3 serious safety problems took place in a scope of a few months. The airline also has to deal with major losses which have doubled compared to last year. On a positive note, the airline announced new flights from Pula next year and opened its own maintenance hangar at Zagreb Airport.

Jat Airways – One of the most turbulent years in recent history for Jat was 2008. Everything started optimistically with Aeroflot already a certain buyer although there was interest from IcelandAir. Passenger numbers increased as major events such as Eurovision took place in Serbia however all of this was about to end. When Aeroflot announced it will not purchase Jat in the summer the airline found itself in a financial crisis. Five aircraft have been taken out of service, some of which have been leased to carriers in Africa. The airline suspended a few destinations although new flights were established to Milan and for the first time after 16 years regular service commenced to Croatia (Pula). After pleading with the government the airline has been promised it will get a loan of a billion Dinars which will be invested in the current and future fleet as well as a money incentive programme for 600 to 700 workers which must leave the airline. Meanwhile the carrier closed its office in New York and moved its offices in Amsterdam and Rome to the airport in order to decrease costs. Catering has also been reduced. However the airline can report the best passenger figures since 1997. What’s in store only time can tell.

MAT Macedonian Airlines – A Very bad year for the Macedonian carrier started when the airline was banned from flying to Greece due to a political name dispute. The airline has received two B737-500s to accompany the Bombardier aircraft in the fleet. However, MAT’s debt is coming back to haunt the airline. It owes 680.000 Euros to Macedonian Airports (the handling and operational company of Skopje and Ohrid airport). Later in the year the airline was denied landing rights to Düsseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg and Rome because of its unpaid obligations to EUROCOTNROL. If it does nothing about it the airline will be grounded in 16 days.

Montenegro Airlines – The expansion of Montenegro Airlines began in 2008 with the arrival of a new Embraer E195 jet. The airline has ordered 2 new E195s, scheduled to arrive in 2009. The airline began services to London while passenger numbers strengthened. There were some problems such as the airline’s website being offline for weeks due to an attack by hackers as well as a landing fee dispute with Belgrade Airport. The airline can expect turbulent times in 2009, more about this on January 2.

2008 poll results
Top 3
· Best website
1. Jat Airways (52%)
2. Adria Airways (20%)
3. Croatia Airlines (11%)

· Best livery
1. Croatia Airlines (34%)
2. B&H Airlines (25%)
3. Adria Airways (17%)

· Biggest potential
1. Croatia Airlines (37%)
2. Jat Airways (33%)
3. Adria Airways (14%)

· Need to improve most on
1. Destination network (60%)
2. Fleet modernisation (12%)
3. Safety procedures (10%)