Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chongqing - Zadar charters confirmed

Long haul charters to Zadar by year’s end

A Chinese business delegation visiting Croatia has signed a letter of intent with its Croatian partners for the launch of charter flights between the two countries. The service, which will operate once every ten days from Chongqing, in China’s south-west, will launch by the end of the year. The Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA), which has initiated the new charter service, has confirmed flights will operate to Zadar Airport. The announcement comes as somewhat of a surprise since the airports in Zagreb and Dubrovnik were initially tipped as the destination of choice. However, Chinese tourists will visit both cities, as well as Split, Plitvice, Rovinj and Kumrovec during their ten day stay in the country. Last week the delegation said it was in talks with Croatian airports over pricing and taxes with Zadar offering the most affordable terms and conditions.

CSEBA CEO, Mario Rendulić, said, “Over the next thirty days all the details will be finalised and both sides will cooperate in choosing an airline to operate the charter flights. Arrangements must be made and we hope airlines will recognise the potential”. The Chongqing Tourism Association, CSEBA and Croatia’s DC Travel will work on promoting Croatia as a tourist destination in China and assist in establishing the charter service. The exact launch date will be known after a carrier is selected to operate the three monthly flights. The Chinese government, together with Croatian tourism authorities, have pledged their support in promoting the new service amongst Chinese travellers.

Charters between China and Croatia would mark the first air link between the two countries. CSEBA hopes to eventually introduce scheduled yearlong services next year. The arrival of a Chinese airline at Zadar Airport would be a much welcomed addition during the slow winter months when Croatia Airlines is the airport’s sole customer, maintaining only flights to Zagreb and Pula. During the first eight months of the year, Zadar Airport welcomed 368.448 passengers through its doors, an increase of 5.9% compared to the same period in 2013 as the airport heads for a record breaking year.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Second airline eyes Niš flights

Niš negotiating potential flights with Swiss-based airline

Another low cost airline has expressed interest to launch services to Niš Constantine the Great Airport in south-eastern Serbia as local authorities and Wizz Air continue talks over potential flights, to be launched from March 2015. The Deputy Mayor of Niš, Ljuba Savković, said in a statement, “Things are slowly moving forward. We have already signed an agreement offered by one airline and have sent it back to them for signing. In addition, an airline from Switzerland has also shown interest to launch flights to Niš”. Talks with the interested Swiss-based airline have already taken place. Authorities believe flights to Switzerland would also serve the Italian market due to its close proximity.

Switzerland has for years been considered one of the most profitable markets from Niš. Both Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines operated services from Constantine the Great Airport to Zurich between 2004 and 2006. Montenegro Airlines attempted to resume the route on several occasions but was knocked back by Swiss authorities, which refused to issue fifth freedom rights to the carrier. More recently, Darwin Airline, now known as Etihad Regional, operated services from both Zurich and Geneva to Niš but the pricey tickets failed to attract passengers. A considerable number of Serbian immigrants in Switzerland hail from Serbia’s south-east.

Wizz Air and local authorities are believed to be finalising flights from Constantine the Great Airport, to be launched next summer season. According to original plans, an agreement between the two sides was to be signed in the first half of September. Based on previous statements, online ticket sales are expected to begin by November with flights to be launched in late March 2015. The CEO of Niš Airport, Dragan Bugarinović, said last Friday, “I can’t imagine that we won’t have flights next year. I am absolutely certain we will have them. If we don’t achieve anything in a year then I don’t think we can ever hope for or expect anything better”. The last commercial flight from Niš was operated by Montenegro Airlines to Podgorica in October last year. The airport has been unable to attract any customers ever since.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Macedonia to extend low cost subsidies

State to provide financial assistance to low cost airlines in 2015

The Macedonian government will continue subsidising low cost flights to the country into 2015 despite plans to create a national carrier. The Ministry for Transport and Communication confirmed that it had approved funds to subsidise budget carriers next year but did not specify the amount. The three-year subsidy scheme, launched in 2012, will end in July next year. The government will call for no frill airlines to apply for state support in 2015 through an international tender. The original scheme proved successful since Wizz Air set up a base at Skopje Airport, which has in turn led to significant passenger and traffic growth. Other low cost airlines which have launched flights to the country since the financial support was introduced include Pegasus Airlines and Flydubai.

This year the Macedonian government offered 4.9 million euros in subsidies to budget airlines as an incentive to launch new routes and increase frequencies on existing services. Airlines were offered a one-off 40.000 euro cash injection for each new route launched for the first six destinations. Each subsequent route launch received an additional 30.000 euro grant from the government. Airlines signing up to the subsidy scheme have also been rewarded for the number of passengers carried. The government subsidises carriers for each passenger flown with nine euros in the first year of operations, eight euros in the second year and seven in the third. Commenting on the financial assistance provided to low cost airlines, the Ministry for Transport and Communication said, “We plan to keep this policy in place as data shows that in the brief period since its introduction it has produced significant results”.

In 2013, low cost airlines handled 440.127 passengers to and from Skopje Airport, a massive increase of 240% compared to the year before. Of those, Wizz Air carried 358.003 passengers, followed by Pegasus Airlines with 57.075 and Flydubai with a further 25.049 travellers. Prior to the launch of the subsidy scheme there were almost no low cost airlines serving Macedonia. The head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, Dejan Mojsoski, recently said, “Interest from airlines to operate flights to Macedonia is growing, which indicates we are on the right path to creating a fast, efficient, safe and reliable air transport network, accessible to the general public”.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winter 2014/15
Adria Airways

Winter season changes for Adria

The 2014/15 winter season is around the corner and is due to begin in a month’s time, on October 26. Adria Airways will be making some changes to its network. Notably, the Slovenian carrier will maintain new destinations launched during the 2014 summer season from Ljubljana to Prague and Warsaw, as well as its Lodz - Munich and Tirana – Frankfurt service. In line with its new business strategy, Adria will cut down on some frequencies on selected routes but will increase capacity by upgrading operations from the Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft to the larger CRJ900 version.

From its main hub in Ljubljana, Adria will reduce services to Frankfurt, Moscow, Sarajevo and Tirana by one weekly flight when compared to last winter season. In addition, the airline will halve its operations to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport from four to two per week. Paris is one of only three destinations on which Adria faces direct competition. The Slovenian carrier goes up against Air France on the route. Two weekly flights will also be cut from Adria’s Pristina service, while Zurich will see twelve weekly flights, down from fifteen last winter. Skopje will operate only once per day, a reduction from ten weekly. Services to Belgrade, suspended in February, will not be resuming. 

Below you can review the preliminary changes that will be made to the Adria Airways network this winter when compared to last year. The information is subject to change. The 2014/15 winter season runs until March 28. EX-YU Aviation News will be bringing you winter season changes for each national carrier in the former Yugoslavia over the coming month.

Departing Ljubljana

DestinationFrequency W14/15Frequency W13/14ChangeNotes
Lodz60 6via Munich
Prague30 3-
Warsaw30 3-

Departing Pristina

DestinationFrequency W14/15Frequency W13/14ChangeNotes

Departing Tirana

DestinationFrequency W14/15Frequency W13/14ChangeNotes
Frankfurt20 2-