Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Air Serbia records strong 2014 results

Air Serbia becomes the busiest airline in EX-YU

Air Serbia has become the busiest airline in the former Yugoslavia in 2014, recording a net profit of 2.7 million euros and handling 2.3 million passengers, the carrier’s audited financial results show. The numbers represent the strongest results ever posted by Serbia’s national airline following on from a 73 million euro loss in 2013. Its revenue rose 87% to 262 million euros, while passenger numbers soared 68% compared to the year before. The carrier’s average cabin load factor increased three points, from 64% in 2013 to 67% last year. The growth in loads came despite a 74% increase in capacity. Aviolet, Air Serbia’s dedicated charter brand, carried over 90.000 passengers. Air Serbia Cargo also performed significantly better in 2014, carrying 2.700 tonnes of freight, up 67% on the year before.

YearPAX (million)Change (%)
20142.3 68
20131.4 8
20121.3 8
20111.2 14

Commenting on the performance, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić said, “These results are a great achievement validating the effectiveness of our strategy. We are proud to have been able to deliver on our mandate which was to achieve strong growth, to become the region’s leading carrier and, most importantly, to do so as a commercially viable and profitable enterprise, while becoming a key driver of economic growth in Serbia”. He added, “The profit we have delivered in 2014 is, above all, a great sign for the future, as it lays a solid foundation going forward and is proof positive, of what can be achieved when the right strategies and governance structures are put in place”.

AirlinePAX (million)Change (%)
Air Serbia2.3 68
Croatia Airlines1.8 2
Adria Airways1.1 8
Montenegro Airlines557.000 5
B&H Airlines35.600 17

In 2014 Air Serbia’s on-time performance at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport stood at 78%, an increase of 4% compared to the year before. Over the past twelve months, Air Serbia has employed some 400 new staff members and now has a 1.900-strong work-force. The airline’s maintenance department employed 44 engineers and a number of new pilots were hired in the first half of 2014, including three of the carrier's first female captains. The airline's largest ever global drive for pilots was launched last September, which resulted in the recruitment of over forty new pilots by the end of the year.

The CEO of Air Serbia’s part-owner, Etihad, James Hogan, said, “We are delighted with the progress Air Serbia has made in delivering on its performance objectives in the very competitive European market. Its continued success amidst these challenges will depend not only on continued investment in its workforce and in innovative products and services, but also on the ongoing and strict financial discipline and focus on cost which have marked its first year of operation”. Air Serbia is yet to release its financial report to the general public, which has been audited by KPMG.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Vinci reaffirms Belgrade Airport interest

France’s Vinci still interested in Belgrade Airport concession

French concession and construction company Vinci has reaffirmed its interest to vie for a concession of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport following talks between French investors and the Serbian government in Paris last week. Serbia’s Economy Minister, Željko Sertić, met with representatives of French companies and confirmed Vinci’s interest in the country’s main international airport. Representatives from Vinci are expected to visit Belgrade next month as part of a wider French delegation which will feature various transport-oriented companies. The Serbian government has announced plans to launch a state-run company to manage up to 25 of the country’s airports, including Belgrade, by April. The public company running Belgrade Airport will be renamed to “Airports of Serbia” with more than twenty smaller airports to be added under its wing. The move is believed to be in relation to the upcoming concession of Serbia’s busiest airport, through which the future operator will also gain control to the rest of the country’s airport infrastructure.

In November last year, Vinci signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Belgrade Airport for the development of joint projects. The MoU was also co-signed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić. Vinci Airports Chairman, Nicolas Notebaert, has said, "Vinci Airports have an ambition to cooperate on the development of Belgrade Airport and other Serbian airports. We are interested in long-term partnerships". Serbia’s Prime Minister has previously said that his government will decide on whether to give Belgrade Airport up for concession in June, noting that the future operator will have to invest in infrastructure such as a new terminal, runway and hotel. “Nikola Tesla Airport is experiencing problems as a result of increased traffic, in particular with baggage sorting and aging technology”, the Prime Minister said. Belgrade Airport is estimated to handle between 5 and 5.5 million passengers this year.

Last year, Vinci lost out in a bid to acquire a majority stake in Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. The concession company has also expressed interest in establishing a partnership with Airports of Montenegro, the state-owned company that runs the country’s two international airports - Podgorica and Tivat. However, the Montenegrin government has since ruled out a concession or privatisation of its airport operator. In case of a tie-up with Belgrade Airport, two major French companies would have control over the former Yugoslavia’s two busiest airports. Zagreb Airport is managed by a consortium led by France’s Aéroports de Paris. Vinci runs a total of 23 airports across France, Portugal and Cambodia. It employs over 179.000 people and is the world’s leading construction company by revenue. It profits total almost two billion euros per year. The company’s subsidiary, Vinci Construction, has also been involved in the recent expansion of Abu Dhabi Airport’s terminal three.

Last summer, two companies from the United Arab Emirates, one of which is Arabtec Holding, the Persian Gulf’s largest construction company, expressed interest to take part in a potential concession of Belgrade Airport. However, it is believed that awarding control of the country’s main airport to a company from the Middle East, in addition to Etihad Airways’ part-ownership of Serbia’s national carrier, would not be looked upon kindly by the European Union which Serbia hopes to join. Documents signed between the Serbian government and Etihad Airways, for the latter’s minority takeover of Air Serbia, show that the Serbian national carrier is to be given a dedicated terminal at its hub.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Skopje Airport eyes 25% growth in 2015

Skopje Airport anticipates another record year

Following a strong start to the year, Skopje Alexander the Great Airport anticipates having its busiest summer season on record, with airlines to launch several new routes, add additional capacity and boost frequencies to the city. Wizz Air will headline the growth for a second consecutive year, with the budget carrier set to base a third aircraft in the Macedonian capital in late June and introduce five new routes, including Friedrischshafen, Sandefjord, Barcelona, Lubeck and Nuremberg. Furthermore, the no frills airline will boost frequencies across its network out of Skopje. It will introduce an additional weekly flight to Hahn, Cologne, Bergamo, Gothenburg and Beauvais, and a further two weekly services will be added to Malmo, which will now operate on a daily basis.

On Thursday, Turkey’s TAV Airports Holding marked the fifth anniversary of its takeover of Macedonia’s two international airports. Since then, Skopje and Ohrid have seen their passenger numbers grow by a combined total of 75%, with the introduction of seventeen new routes. "Skopje is currently linked with 26 European destinations and one to Dubai, which is a significant increase compared to 2010, when the capital had direct flights to only ten cities", Zoran Krstevski, the CEO of TAV Macedonia, said. He added, “2015 will see the introduction of a dozen new routes, which will result in further traffic and passenger growth this year”.

Apart from Wizz Air, several other airlines will launch flights to the city this summer. Swiss International Air Lines will inaugurate two weekly services from Geneva, while Croatia Airlines will add seasonal summer flights from Split, starting June 24. The one weekly service will operate through to September 15. According to Mr. Krstevski, TAV Macedonia plans to promote Skopje Airport as a regional hub this year and focus on attracting transit passengers. Furthermore, the airport’s management believes Skopje will handle over 1.5 million travellers in 2015, up from a record 1.2 million last year. In January, Alexander the Great Airport welcomed 88.275 passengers, overtaking its traditionally busier counterpart - Ljubljana Airport - in the process. The figure represents growth of 41.6% compared to the same month last year.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Summer 2015
Air Serbia

Air Serbia's summer

The 2015 summer season is just a month away and will come into effect on March 29 until October 24. According to its preliminary schedule, Air Serbia will be making several changes to its operations this summer. The airline will boost services to Amsterdam, Brussels, Ljubljana, Prague, Tirana and Tivat. The carrier will operate double daily flights to Amsterdam and Prague on select days during the summer, amounting to a total of ten weekly services. Compared to last year, flights to Brussels will operate daily, while services to Ljubljana will be doubled to fourteen per week, with a mix of ATR 72s and Boeing 737-300s maintaining the route throughout the season. In addition, flights to Tirana, which were launched three times per week late into last summer, will be increased to daily. Although Air Serbia will maintain three daily flights to Tivat, it will operate an additional five weekly services to the city during the peak summer months of June, July and August. A mix of Airbus and ATR aircraft will run the service. The airline will resume all of its seasonal flights which include Split, Dubrovnik, Pula, Varna and Malta.

On the other hand, Air Serbia will also reduce frequencies to several destinations. Notably, the airline will decrease services to Rome by seven and Banja Luka and Tel Aviv by two weekly flights. Following Etihad's acquisition of Alitalia late last year, the European Commission feared that a monopoly on flights between Rome and Belgrade could lead to higher prices and a loss of service quality for passengers. As a result, Air Serbia and Alitalia submitted commitments to release up to two daily slot pairs at Rome Fiumicino and Belgrade airports to one or more interested new entrants, which has resulted in a drop in the number of weekly frequenecies operated on the route by both airlines. According to early changes in the Global Distribution System (GDS) in late December last year, services to Banja Luka were initially planned to operate nine times per week this summer but these have since been scrapped. This summer, the carrier also plans to cut one of its weekly services to both Split and Dubrovnik. Air Serbia will continue to use its Boeing 737s on several scheduled routes this season, mostly on flights to the Adriatic coast, with Ljubljana being the exception. The airline will maintain a significant number of charter flights during the summer months through its leisure brand Aviolet.

Air Serbia will continue to operate daily flights on its signature route to Abu Dhabi and will run another daily service between the two cities on Etihad's behalf, with its own crew and equipment, until June 1, after which the Emirati carrier will resume flying between the two capitals with its own aircraft and staff.

Please note that the changes listed below are preliminary and based on current availability in the GDS. Air Serbia is prone to making additional changes mid-way through the season, as was the case last year when it announced services to Pula and Tirana well into the summer and boosted frequencies to Dubrovnik, Split and Prague. Furthermore, the table below displays the peak weekly frequency on each route during the course of the summer season. Increases in frequencies, particularly to Athens, Larnaca, Warsaw and Tivat do not come into effect until later on in the summer. Seasonal flights to Split and Dubrovnik will run until the end of the summer season, while services to Pula, Varna and Malta will operate until mid-September.

EX-YU Aviation News will be bringing you summer season changes for each national carrier in the former Yugoslavia over the next month.

DestinationFrequency S2014Frequency S2015ChangeNotes
Abu Dhabi77--
Amsterdam710 3-
Banja Luka75▼ 2-
Brussels67 1-
Dubrovnik651resumes MAY16
Ljubljana714 7-
London - Heathrow99--
Malta22-resumes JUN16
Pula33-resumes JUN16
Prague810 2-
Rome147▼ 7-
Split54▼ 1resumes MAY15
Tel Aviv75▼ 2-
Tirana37▲ 4-
Tivat2126▲ 5-
Varna44-resumes JUN15
Zagreb014▲ 14-