Friday, December 19, 2014

BWA to launch four destinations from Sarajevo

BWA from Sarajevo to Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt and Stockholm

The newly established Bosnian Wand Airlines (BWA), which plans to launch flights early next year, has unveiled its destination network, fleet plans and livery. The airline will operate flights from Sarajevo to Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt and Stockholm, most of which are currently unserved from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. The start-up will run services with a leased Airbus A321 from Air Méditerranée. The jet has the capacity to seat 214 passengers, with BWA to offer twelve seats in business class and the remaining 202 in economy. “Our vision is for BWA to become a recognisable national brand on the aviation market. We believe it is possible. An analysis by some 100 experts, who determine which parts of the world are best to invest in, have pointed towards Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the airline says.

BWA cabin crew members recently completed their training at the Turkish Airlines Flight Centre in Istanbul. A total of 28 crew members have been recruited, along with a public relations manager, IT expert, certified accountant and secretary. “An important segment of our business will be to attract tourists from Asia to visit the cultural and historic sights of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, BWA says. Last month the Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation (BHDCA) confirmed that BWA had requested an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) which is necessary in order to launch commercial operations. The BHDCA says it will take up to ninety days to review BWA’s application. An Iraqi company, the Al Wand group, is behind the newly established carrier.

BWA’s successful launch could come as a major blow to B&H Airlines, which maintains flights from Sarajevo to four destinations with two leased turboprop aircraft. B&H Airlines once operated services to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Stockholm. While flights to Frankfurt were suspended due to poor loads, services to Amsterdam and the Swedish capital, considered diaspora hotspots, were terminated due to unsuitable equipment, as the airline no longer had jet-engine aircraft at its disposal. Start-up airlines in the former Yugoslavia have had a poor run, with almost all suspending services prior to their planned launch or several weeks later. They include Dalmatian from Zagreb, Golden Air from Maribor and Centavia from Belgrade.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ljubljana, Skopje and Sarajevo record growth

Ljubljana Airport sees growth as Skopje and Sarajevo break records

The airports in Ljubljana, Skopje and Sarajevo have all seen their passenger numbers grow during the second last month of the year. Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport welcomed 84.507 passengers, a modest increase of 1.1% on the same period last year. Growth was achieved despite a significant dip in the number of operated flights. Slovenia’s busiest airport registered 1.915 flight operations, down 11.1% compared to 2013. It handled some 773.000 kilograms of cargo, a decrease of 3.6%. So far this year, Jože Pučnik Airport has seen 1.226.947 travellers, up 3.1%. A total of 8.900 tonnes of commercial cargo has been delivered while the number of flights decreased 5.6%.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN75.317 16.9
APR99.129 1.1
MAY107.401 7.0
JUN127.837 0.9
JUL147.871 2.9

Skopje Alexander the Great Airport continued with its growth streak in November. The airport welcomed more passengers than Ljubljana, handling a total of 86.857 travellers during the month, an increase of 21.3%. On the other hand, the country’s second international airport, Ohrid, saw 1.038 travellers pass through its doors, all of them using Helvetic Airways’ Zurich service. Overall, Macedonia’s busiest airport has welcomed a record breaking 1.120.870 passengers so far this year, up 21%, and has registered its busiest year since opening its doors. Almost half of the passengers, or 45.5%, travelled on Wizz Air flights to and from Skopje.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN62.362 1.4

Finally, Sarajevo Airport also performed better than last year with a significant jump in the amount of handled cargo. It saw 46.833 passengers pass through its doors, an improvement of 5.4%. The number of operated flights increased only by four, or 0.9%, from 422 last November to 426 this year. The airport handled 355.715 kilos of cargo, up by an impressive 149%. Sarajevo is also set to record its busiest year on record with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s largest airport welcoming 666.822 passengers so far in 2014, up 6%. The number of flights increased markedly from 5.160 last year to 5.630, or 9.1%.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN36.114 8.0

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Government to take over Jat debt

Public to foot bill for Jat Airways debt

Over a year after Serbia’s national carrier Jat Airways was transformed into Air Serbia, the Serbian government is seeking parliamentary approval to take over and repay debt amassed by Jat over the years. Under the agreement signed between the Serbian government and Etihad Airways for the latter’s minority takeover of Jat, the government has to provide 33.5 million euros in cash payments and a further 32 million to cover debt towards local companies, 80% of which are state owned. However, according to the draft bill, the obligations now total a whopping 155.3 million euros. The debt, which will ultimately be reimbursed by Serbian taxpayers, is owed to Belgrade Airport, maintenance company Jat Tehnika, the Directorate of Civil Aviation, the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency, the Petroleum Industry of Serbia and several state owned banks.

According to the draft bill, the government will make part of the payments directly to Air Serbia, since the airline has already covered outstanding debt owed towards several local companies. The agreement signed between Etihad Airways and the Serbian government has been criticised over the state’s obligation to take over all of Jat’s debts. However, defending the move, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, has said, “Have we not taken these measures, Jat would have been shut down, which would have caused economic and social problems”. The proposed bill is being urgently ushered into parliament, meaning lawmakers will debate the proposed legislation during the next sitting of parliament.

During its last year of operation, Jat Airways, for the first ten months of 2013, and Air Serbia, for the last two months of the same year, recorded a loss of 73 million euros. The Serbian carrier accumulated an operational loss of 45 million euros during 2013, while the remaining 28 million came as a result of errors made in previous financial reports. In an earlier statement, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “We now turn to the future and thanks to our partnership with Etihad Airways and the strong support from the Serbian government, Air Serbia now has a strategy for recovery as well as the foundations for creating a profitable and strong company”. In line with earlier reports, Air Serbia expects to end the year with a profit of at least one million euros. Full financial results will be made public in May 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IFC to find Croatia Airlines partner by 2016

IFC eyes advisory role in search for Croatia Airlines partner

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which finances and provides advice for private sector ventures and projects and is a member of the World Bank Group, is interested in advising the Croatian government in its search for a strategic partner for Croatia Airlines. In October, the government formally relaunched the airline’s privatisation process, following a failed attempt last year, and appointed a commission to handle the sales procedure. As an external consultant, the IFC would seek out potential investors and report back to the commission. The IFC is expected to submit its final offer to the Croatian government for advisory services within the next ten days.

According to media reports, the IFC guarantees it will be able to find Croatia Airlines its new owner within a year. The Corporation has a strong presence in the Middle East and China, where the government hopes to find a strategic partner for the carrier. The IFC is already active in Croatia and has invested nineteen million euros in Zagreb Airport’s new passenger terminal. Furthermore, the Finance Corporation has an 18% stake in the holding firm Zagreb Airport International Company (ZAIC), which runs Croatia’s busiest airport. It has also provided a loan of 35 million euros for the construction of the new terminal.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday granted approval for Croatia Airlines to hire a PR agency to inform the public on the company’s restructuring program and the latest developments in its search for a strategic partner. The government will fork out 52.000 euros for the service. Preparations for the sale of Croatia Airlines have been more structured and advanced than a year ago, when the government last tried to privatise the carrier. It foresees for a company from the European Union to acquire a majority stake in the airline but those from outside the bloc will be limited to a 49% share. The government expects from the new owners to invest funds into Croatia Airlines, modernise its fleet, expand its route network and market share, further develop its profitable maintenance division and support the development of Zagreb Airport.