Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Air Serbia temporarily halts Tel Aviv flights

Air Serbia temporarily cancels Tel Aviv service over security concerns

Air Serbia has temporarily suspended flights from Belgrade to Tel Aviv after a rocket landed just over one kilometre away from Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday evening. Most European airlines have cancelled their flights to Israel’s largest city today while US-based carriers have also halted all services to the country over the next 24 hours. In a statement, the Serbian national carrier, which was scheduled to operate its Tel Aviv service this morning, said, “Air Serbia announces that flights to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv will be suspended for the next 24 hours. This measure has been taken to safeguard the security of passengers and crew, in light of the current unstable situation. Air Serbia continues to monitor the situation and will provide updates as further information comes to hand”. The Serbian national carrier operates daily flights to Tel Aviv with its Airbus A319.

The halt in service comes less than a week after Israel began a ground operation in Gaza and as airlines around the world re-think their flight paths over conflict areas in the wake of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it "strongly recommends" that airlines should avoid operating to and from Tel Aviv. Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, easyJet, Aeroflot, Transaero, Turkish Airlines, Delta and American Airlines are just some of the carriers to have cancelled their flights to Tel Aviv today. Yesterday, Israel's transportation ministry said, "Ben Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize". In addition, the ministry said airlines have “overreacted” to the security scare.

Elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia Airlines is scheduled to operate its service from Zagreb and Dubrovnik to Tel Aviv tonight. The carrier is yet to issue a statement weather the flights will go ahead. Charter carrier Israir Airlines is scheduled to operate a flight from Tel Aviv to Ljubljana this morning. Israeli-based airlines have been unaffected by the security incident and continue to operate normally. Adria Airways is to run its service to Israel’s largest city from Ljubljana just after midnight. Currently, it is unknown whether these flights will go ahead and how the situation will unfold.


Adria Airways has now cancelled flight JP604 from Ljubljana to Tel Aviv which was to depart just after midnight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pristina Airport’s decline continues

Pristina Airport’s passenger numbers suffer strong decline

Pristina Airport has seen its passenger numbers plummet as it continues to feel the effects of Belle Air Europe’s demise. Once its busiest customer, Belle Air Europe suspended operations in late November last year and has since declared bankruptcy. Pristina Airport is yet to recover despite introducing a range of subsidies and benefits to airlines operating flights to the Kosovan airport. During the first five months of the year, Pristina welcomed 500.782 passengers through its doors, a decrease of 18.6% compared to the same period last year. The airport shed some 114.163 passengers when compared to the first five months of 2013 and did not manage to surpass 100.000 passengers per month during the first three months of the year. In contrast, the airport did not dip below the 100.000 mark during any month last year.

On March 27, Pristina Airport introduced its new route development incentive to spur interest among airlines to launch destinations which have not been served from the city for at least twelve months. Those airlines willing to operate flights to new routes are now exempt from landing fees for the first year and will enjoy a 50% discount in their second year of operations. The additional frequency incentive hopes to encourage airlines to add additional frequencies to their existing schedules. Airlines operating at least one additional frequency have been freed of landing fees for one year. Carriers which have handled over 50.000 passengers from Pristina last year are now eligible for financial support. Pristina Airport will provide 25.000 euros to airlines which handled between 50.001 - 100.000 passengers last year (Austrian and Pegasus Airlines) and 200.000 euros to airlines carrying between 100.001 - 200.000 travellers (Germanwings, Adria Airways, Turkish Airlines, Darwin Airline, Germania, easyJet and Endelweiss). Airlines that handle over 200.000 passengers will be provided with financial assistance ranging from 300.000 euros onwards. Finally, airlines which have an average load factor of less than 50% on their flights to and from Pristina are now cleared of landing fees for a year. In addition, Pristina Airport will provide support for marketing and promotion. However, airlines have not been so eager to launch flights to Pristina this summer, despite the market void left by Belle Air Europe.

Pristina Airport has held the title of third busiest in the former Yugoslavia for several years and has been a star performer in the region. Last October, the airport, run by a Franco-Turkish consortium, opened a brand new multi million euro terminal. However, the airport will have to pick up its game this summer otherwise it risks being overtaken by Split Airport which anticipates growth of 4%-5% by the end of the year. Furthermore, Ljubljana Airport is also catching up. During the first five months of 2014, Slovenia’s busiest airport handled 443.303 passengers. Pristina Airport welcomed 1.628.678 travellers in 2013, 275.814 of which were carried by Belle Air Europe until its demise on November 27.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN90.553 24.4
FEB83.154 18.7
MAR97.293 22.9
APR114.757 14.6
MAY115.025 13.3

Monday, July 21, 2014

EX-YU responds to Malaysia Airlines disaster

EX-YU airlines take action following loss of flight MH17

EX-YU carriers have responded to last Thursday’s tragic loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur near the Ukraine-Russia boarder, believed to have been shot down with a Buk surface to air missile, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board. The national carriers of Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro say they are now avoiding Ukrainian airspace until further notice. On the other hand, Croatian and Serbian air traffic control is prepared to handle additional aircraft as most international airlines bypass Ukraine, which has lead to busy flight paths in the region, particularly in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

Adria Airways says none of its flights have been forced to reroute since they do not fly near the Donetsk region where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crashed. The Slovenian carrier said it issued an advisory to its pilots back in April to avoid the airspace under Simferopol flight control in case its jets have to fly over Ukraine. Meanwhile, Air Serbia issued a statement saying, “In light of current events and the Malaysia Airlines disaster on Ukrainian territory, we inform that we no longer fly through Ukrainian airspace. Air Serbia flights will continue to operate according to schedule”. The carrier's last flight over Ukraine was operated on Friday afternoon, away from the conflict zone, after which all services were rerouted. Earlier this year the Serbian carrier cancelled plans to launch flights to the Ukrainian capital Kiev due to security concerns. At the time, the airline’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “The safety of our guests and crew is paramount to the airline”. Montenegro Airlines operated its last flight through Ukraine’s airspace on Friday, however, nowhere near the country’s boarder with Russia where fighting between the military and separatists has been intensifying over the past few weeks. The carrier has since said its Russia bound flights will now avoid Ukraine in accordance with Eurocotrnol guidelines, which regulates European airspace. All flight plans that are filed using flight paths above eastern Ukraine are now being rejected by Eurocotnrol. The routes will remain closed until further notice.

Most airlines avoiding Ukraine's airspace

Croatian Air Traffic Control has said it is prepared to take on extra traffic as airlines avoid Ukraine’s airspace altogether. It noted it is already dealing with busy skies as the height of the summer season approaches. On the day of the Malaysia Airlines crash, Croatia Air Traffic Control handled 2.074 aircraft. Its 24-hour record stands at 2.520 jets. Similarly, the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA) is prepared to cope with extra traffic. SMATSA CEO, Radojica Rovčanin, said, “SMATSA won’t have any trouble handling and guiding an increased number of aircraft as we have sufficient capacity to do so. Currently, an average of 2.230 aircraft fly over Serbia and Montenegro, while this figure sometimes reaches up to 2.600”.