Saturday, October 25, 2014

Air Serbia marks first anniversary

Air Serbia celebrates its first birthday tonight

Serbia’s national carrier has begun celebrating its first anniversary since relaunching as Air Serbia on October 26, 2013. To mark the occasion, this evening the airline will host a lavish event for its employees, as well as members of the press and government officials. EX-YU Aviation News will be in attendance and will bring you any major developments live. The event is scheduled to take place at the Old Palace (City Hall) in Belgrade. To share in the festivities, the Serbian carrier yesterday launched a two for one ticket sale, where passengers can purchase a single return ticket and receive another one free of charge. In a statement, Air Serbia said, “This is the first of many attractive promotions, which will be launched over the course of the next five weeks until the end of November 2014”.

Over the past year the airline has rebranded itself, signed codeshare partnerships with Etihad Airways, Etihad Regional, Air Berlin, Adria Airways and B&H Airlines, leased ten Airbus aircraft and employed over 300 new staff, including cabin crew trained at the Etihad Crew Training Academy. Furthermore, it has launched a new charter brand, Aviolet, which utilises Boeing 737-300 jets to popular holiday destinations. In addition, the carrier has been increasingly focusing on handling transit passengers, shuttling them through its Belgrade base. It has also managed to become the busiest airline in the former Yugoslavia so far this year. From tomorrow, Air Serbia will strengthen its cooperation with Air Berlin, with the German airline to begin codesharing on Air Serbia flights from Belgrade to Athens, Banja Luka, Larnaca, Sofia and Thessaloniki. Furthermore, Aeroflot will add its flight numbers onto Air Serbia’s services to Tirana and Sarajevo.

Earlier this week, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “We want to thank the people of Serbia, and everyone who travels with Air Serbia, for their support and loyalty. Our aim is to encourage travellers who have yet to experience our service and hospitality, to see for themselves what has made Air Serbia the success that it is”. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the airline. Critics have accused the Serbian government of signing a costly partnership agreement with Etihad, where the government has to fork out much more than its counterpart and take on significant commitments. Meanwhile, low cost airline Wizz Air has labelled Air Serbia and Etihad Airways as “wannabe monopolists”. In a recent report, the European Commission said, “Air Serbia was established in October 2013 as a joint venture owned by the Republic of Serbia and United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier Etihad Airways. Inquiries are ongoing regarding the airline’s compliance with the ‘effective control’ requirements stipulated in the ECAA [European Common Aviation Area]”.

Nevertheless, Serbia’s national carrier has transformed itself from the days of Jat Airways, which was, at the time, facing declining passenger numbers, a chronic fleet shortage and was in a dire financial state. Since the strategic partnership was inked on August 1, 2013, Air Serbia has leased eight Airbus A319 aircraft and two A320s and has ordered a further ten A320neo jets, for delivery from 2018. Furthermore, the carrier has launched eleven new routes: Abu Dhabi, Banja Luka, Bucharest, Budapest, Beirut, Ljubljana, Prague, Sofia, Tirana, Varna and Warsaw. The carrier forecasts it will record a profit of at least a million euros by year’s end.


Air Serbia CEO, Dane Kondić: Results in the third quarter, which will soon be made public, are extremely impressive. August was the busiest month in the airline's history.

Air Serbia Chairman, Siniša Mali: A profit is certain and has already been secured by the end of October.

Air Serbia Vice-Chairman, James Hogan: Air Serbia is shaking up the European aviation industry. It has become the envy of the region.

More photos available on EX-YU Aviation News' Instagram account.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Skopje approaching one million passenger mark

Skopje Airport sees record numbers as government boosts subsidies

Skopje Alexander the Great Airport is poised to handle its millionth passenger for the year within days following strong September growth. As a result, the airport will surpass the million mark for the first time in fourteen years. The only time Skopje has managed to handle more than a million passengers was in 2000 when it saw 1.000.200 travellers pass through its doors. In September, the airport handled 115.794 passengers, an increase of 21.6% compared to the same period last year. Over the past nine months it welcomed 926.495 travellers, up 21% on 2013, affirming its position as one of the fastest growing capital city airports in Europe.

Meanwhile, following a recent announcement it would extend financial support for low cost airlines into 2015, the Macedonian government has now said it will offer fresh subsidies which will target specific markets. The measure looks to boost visitors from the region travelling by plane. The Macedonian government plans to offer subsidies to tour operators focusing on visitors coming from neighbouring Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as long as they come by plane and stay for at least a week. Between 25 and 35 euros will be offered per person. “We have established that there is a lot more space to increase visitor numbers from these three particular countries”, a government spokesperson, Aleksandar Gjorgiev, said.

The new measure will also help fill planes to Skopje. Air Serbia currently operates daily flights from Belgrade into the Macedonian capital, with a second daily flight operated during the summer season. Together with visitors from Turkey, the Netherlands, Greece and Poland, Serbs were the second most frequent tourists arriving into Macedonia this year. On the other hand, there are currently no flights between Bosnia and Macedonia, however, B&H Airlines is considering launching flights from Sarajevo to Skopje via Podgorica. The boost in subsidies is part of a wider plan to increase income from tourism. From the start of 2015, subsidies to the amount of 65 euros per tourist will be offered for arrivals from Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

MonthPAXChange (%)
JAN62.362 1.4

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Adria phases out last A320

Adria’s fleet shrinks to ten aircraft

Adria Airways has phased out its last Airbus A320, brining the carrier’s total fleet size down to just ten aircraft. The 21-year old jet, registered S5-AAS, performed its last flight on behalf of Adria on Tuesday to Egypt. It joined Adria’s fleet in April 2011, performing its first flight for the carrier from Ljubljana to London Gatwick, with an all-economy 180-seat layout. The A320 was primarily used on charter flights to Greece, Turkey and Egypt but on occasion would also operate on regular services to Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich. Recently, the aircraft was involved in a series of minor technical glitches, bringing bad publicity to the Slovenian carrier. The jet will now return to its lessor.

The Airbus A320 has been a staple of Adria’s fleet since May 1989. The airline ordered five aircraft of the same type in 1985 with the first arriving 25 years ago, still operating under the Yugoslav flag. The jet delivered to Adria was the first to be powered by IAE engines and the first Airbus A320 ever to be registered in Yugoslavia. As a result, after more than two decades, Adria will no longer feature the A320 in its fleet. However, the Slovenian carrier plans to wet-lease several A320-family aircraft in 2015 while a total of five or six jets will join the fleet by 2016.

Adria’s first A320, registered YU-AOA

The CEO of Adria Airways, Mark Anžur, recently said his airline was considering leasing out aircraft larger than the A320. The carrier’s fleet is expected to shrink further this winter with the retirement of its last two Bombardier CRJ200s by March next year. The airline will scrap one of the aircraft while the other will be used for charter flights. Earlier, Adria’s CEO said the carrier’s fleet will consist of sixteen CRJs and Airbuses by 2020. Mr. Anžur notes Adria will need higher capacity aircraft in order to keep up with expected growth trends next year. The Slovenian carrier now operates a fleet of ten aircraft with a pair of Airbus A319s, six Bombardier CRJ900s and two CRJ200s.