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  • Virgin ends Qantas’ 19-month reliability winning streak
    Official BITRE data for April 2024 showed Virgin climbing above the Flying Kangaroo in on-time departures, on-time arrivals, and cancellations, ending a 19-month run of lagging Qantas in some or all of these measures. Virgin also matched or beat the long-term average in all three areas.
  • RAAF could rescue stranded Australians from New Caledonia
    The Minister for Defence confirmed the federal government has been tracking riots in the French territory as pro-independence activists fight against more than 1,000 French police and paramilitary personnel deployed under a major security operation to the Pacific archipelago east of Australia.
  • Bonza collapse could wreak havoc on regional connectivity: ACCC
    The stricken low-cost carrier had “played a key role in connecting regional hubs across the domestic network”, the competition watchdog noted in its latest Domestic Airline Competition in Australia report, as it tried to stimulate demand on routes not served by other airlines.
  • Domestic aviation back at pre-COVID levels: ACCC
    In its latest Domestic Airline Competition in Australia report, the ACCC found 4.9 million domestic passengers flew with Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Rex and Bonza in March 2024, representing 98.8 per cent of March 2019 levels, with seat capacity also barely below pre-pandemic figures at 6.2 million.
  • Qantas boosts India connections with expanded IndiGo codeshare
    Starting today (Tuesday), passengers on Qantas flights to Singapore are able to connect seamlessly to IndiGo services into Delhi and Mumbai. The move follows IndiGo being allowed to place its code on Qantas flights from Singapore to Australia last year.
  • ASL Airlines adds Australia’s first 737 Boeing Converted Freighter
    ASLA, formerly Pionair, is based at Bankstown Airport and offers passenger and cargo charter and wet-leasing services across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The new freighter, VH-CYK, is its first B737-800BCF, with the airline primarily operating the BAe146.
  • Qantas allowed new argument in illegal sacking case
    The Flying Kangaroo now says the disruption later caused by the Delta strain of COVID-19 would have meant it would have had no choice but to let 1,700 ground handlers go anyway after they were made redundant earlier in the pandemic.
  • RAAF to swap ageing VIP 737s with 2 MAX 8s
    It comes after reports revealed taxpayers will pay $450 million for the two new Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) because the cost of leasing replacements for 12 years rose from $372 million to $550 million, making an outright purchase more affordable.
  • Just 1 Bonza MAX left after Shazza departs
    VH-UJT, better known as ‘Shazza’, took off from the Sunshine Coast at 7:58am and landed in Port Hedland at 10:33am, and is now due to fly to Kuala Lumpur.
  • Avalon Airport CEO to leave for new post in Saudi Arabia
    Tony Brun, who has served as Avalon’s CEO since the exit of Justin Giddings in October 2022, announced that he was stepping down from his role at Melbourne’s secondary airport to take up “a new Chief Executive opportunity in Saudi Arabia”.

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  • Airbus rejects take off at Zürich
    On the 27th of October 2023, Edelweiss Air flight WK298B was a commercial flight from Zürich Airport, Switzerland to Faro Airport in Portugal. The aircraft was a twenty-four year old Airbus A320-214 registered in Switzerland as HB-IHY. On board were two flight crew, five cabin crew and 106 passengers. Zürich Airport has six runways (10/28,…
  • In the News
    I’m away from the cockpit this week, but things keep happening whether I’m here or not, so I’ve put together a roundup of recent news, especially the ever-developing Boeing situation, with an impressive triplet of bad news for the company on the same single Wednesday of this week. Boeing Parts Shipped With Defects Santiago Paredes,…
  • Air Taxi Prototype Crash at Cotswold Airport
    On the 9th of August 2023, a VX4 crashed at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire during a test flight over the runway. The VX4 is a prototype air taxi, designed and manufactured by Vertical Aerospace Ltd based in Bristol in the west of England. There’s some confusion (at least, I’m confused) about the naming conventions. The…
  • The Unstallable Plane That Stalled
    The Cessna 185 Skywagon is a high wing, single engine aircraft: basically a Cessna 180 with six seats, a strengthened fuselage and a slightly more powerful engine. It’s a popular aircraft in remote areas where access to modern airstrips may be minimal. The Skywagon can be fitted with floats or skis: this particular one, registered…
  • Unbolted in Fairfield (Update on the 2022 Bell 407 GXP Crash)
    On the 4th of June 2022, a Bell 407 GXP helicopter crashed in a field near Fairfield, New Jersey. I wrote about it at the time. The final report and docket have now been released and so I want to take a closer look. I’ll repeat the basic details from the other post so that…
  • Mixed Messages: A Catch-Up Post
    I am home! I had an amazing time in Iceland. Sadly, the aviation museum in Akureyri was only open on Saturday afternoons and I couldn’t make it work. When I took this photograph at Akureyri Airport, it was -17ºC with a feels-like of -22ºC, so somewhere around 0°F. My time there was amazing, if a…
  • Gladys Ingle Inflight Wheel Change: Emergency Action or Stunt?
    This video of a mid-air wheel exchange goes viral once a year or so, but I never get tired of watching it. Last week, it showed up on Reddit and I discovered that I last write about it over ten years ago, so it seems reasonable to have a repeat. Air crash averted by women’s…
  • The Disappearance of the Hawaii Clipper May Not Be as Mysterious as Was Thought
    This week, we have a guest post by J.B. Rivard who wrote an article for the American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS) and used one of my articles as a reference. He sent a copy of his work to me and I loved it! I asked if I could share it with you and he was…
  • Recognising NASA Technology on Modern Airliners
    Today’s guest post is from NASA! OK, it wasn’t written specifically for me but NASA have made it available to educators so I thought I’d give them the opportunity to be highlighted here. This is an exploration of how NASA research has influenced modern airliners through research and technology. What I find fascinating is how…
  • Training an AI Copilot To Spot Gliders
    My friend Maria at Daedalean wrote this article about how they are using AI to help pilots detect gliders. I thought it was fascinating and Daedalean gave me permission to share it with you! I hope you find it interesting as well. Training A Helicopter/Airplane AI Copilot to Spot Gliders Noticing all fixed wing, rotercraft…

EX-YU Aviation News

EX-YU Aviation News

Latest news from the aviation world of the former Yugoslavia
  • DHL to build distribution centre at Belgrade Airport

    International logistics company DHL has unveiled plans to build a distribution centre (pictured below) for air freight at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The facility will be built over a plot covering 21.424 square metres, which is owned by maintenance company Jat Tehnika. The 10.176 square metre terminal within the airport complex will feature an administrative building, fulfilment centre for distribution, handling, and processing of goods, as well as a car park for 120 vehicles. Construction is expected to commence later this year.

  • Zagreb Airport sees passenger growth on key routes

    Zagreb Airport handled a record 795.753 passengers during the first quarter of the year, with most routes seeing growth over the three-month period, both compared to 2023 and the pre-pandemic 2019. Based on statistics for the airport’s twenty busiest routes, provided by the European Union’s statistical office Eurostat, which account for some 71% of the airport’s total traffic during Q1, Frankfurt continued to be the busiest destination, improving its figures by almost 9% on last year, but still down over 13% on 2019. Similarly, other major Lufthansa hubs continue to perform below pre-pandemic levels, including Munch, Vienna, and Zurich on the back of stronger competition.

    Zagreb Airport's busiest routes, Q1 2024

    The Amsterdam service continues to perform strongly, growing 47.8% and 49.3% in passenger numbers on Q1 2023 and 2019 respectively. The growth is primarily being fuelled by KLM, which positioned itself as one of Zagreb’s leading foreign carriers during the pandemic. Turkish Airlines registered another record result, handling 44.988 passengers on its Istanbul service, an improvement of 12.1% on last year. Air Serbia also saw strong growth on its Belgrade - Zagreb route. Accompanied by an increase in flights, its figures surged 31.8% on Q1 2023, as well as 61.3% on the pre-pandemic 2019. Gulf carriers Qatar Airways and Flydubai both improved on last year, with the latter surpassing its 2019 performance for the first time.

    Ryanair continues to be one of the main factors fuelling Zagreb Airport’s strong results, with destinations across its network out of the Croatian capital seeing strong year-on-year growth. Its busiest destination continues to be London Stansted, where it handled more passengers than Croatia Airlines and British Airways combined on their London Heathrow service. Other strong performers for the budget carrier include Dublin and Charleroi, as well as leisure destinations such as Malta and Malaga. All its flights to and from Zagreb are being accompanied by high levels of cabin occupancy.

  • EX-YU capitals see mixed London performance in Q1

    The capital city airports in the former Yugoslavia saw mixed results on flights to and from London during the first quarter when compared to last year. British Airways fuelled an increase in passenger numbers in Belgrade and Ljubljana, while Wizz Air was responsible for the decline in Skopje. Based on data provided by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Zagreb continued to have the most traffic out of the EX-YU capitals to and from London, with 53.572 passengers handled. Figures declined 1.4% on 2023, despite both Ryanair having 9% more capacity and Croatia Airlines 5% more. However, they were unable to make up for British Airways, which decreased its number of Zagreb flights by 3% and capacity by 23%. Overall, Ryanair registered more passengers on its London - Zagreb service than both Croatia Airlines and British Airways combined.

    London passenger performance, Q1 2024

    Belgrade Airport recorded a 31.8% passenger increase on its London operations due to British Airways’ entry onto the market. Overall, an additional 12.428 travellers were handled compared to last year. Besides British Airways, both Air Serbia and Wizz Air increased capacity on their respective flights to London by 10% and 7%. Ljubljana Airport also benefited from British Airways, which upgraded its seasonal operations between the two capitals to year-round. Figures increased 32.9% with an additional 7.451 passengers handled on Q1 2023. British Airways and easyJet were able to make up for Wizz Air, which discontinued its Luton - Ljubljana service in February. Overall, capacity on the London route grew 27% due to British Airways.

    In Pristina, 27.611 travellers flew with Wizz Air to and from Luton, up 3.9%. Wizz Air, as the only carrier on the London route, increased both its number of flights and capacity by 6.2% and 9.6% respectively. On the other hand, Skopje Airport saw figures decline by 6.6%. Here, Wizz Air operated 5% fewer flights and decreased its capacity by 2.2%. Podgorica’s passenger decline on the London route was the result of Ryanair’s decision to reduce operations between the two cities over the winter, as the number of flights was reduced by 24%, while capacity was impacted by a 12.4% decline. Finally, Sarajevosaw a 4.3% passenger increase, although this only translated into 437 additional passengers on the route on an 8.3% increase in both flights and capacity by Wizz Air. Figures are expected to rise significantly in the second quarter following Ryanair’s flight launch between London Stansted and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital.

  • Ryanair boosts Zagreb - Podgorica service

    Ryanair is increasing frequencies on its seasonal flights between Zagreb and Podgorica. Starting July 2, the service will operate four times per week, instead of the initially planned three weekly rotations. It also represents an increase on last summer when flights on the route were maintained twice per week. The four weekly services will run until October 1, after which they will decrease to two weekly. In 2023, Ryanair handled 26.835 passengers between the two capitals.

  • Air Serbia pushes back Ohrid return

    Air Serbia has delayed the resumption of its seasonal service between Belgrade and Ohrid, which was launched last year. The four weekly flights, which were initially to restart on June 3, will now commence on July 3 instead. Frequencies on the route remain unchanged. All flights are scheduled to be operated by the ATR72-600 aircraft, with the service running until October 26.

  • Air Serbia readies for E195 arrival

    Air Serbia is preparing to incorporate dry-leased Embraer E195 jets into its fleet, which will mark the first time the carrier has operated the Brazilian-manufactured aircraft itself. The planes are due to enter commercial service in July. One of them, currently registered OY-GDA, was previously operated on the airline’s behalf by Marathon Airlines until the agreement between the two was cut short by an accident at Belgrade Airport involving another aircraft. The E-jet has since been returned to its owner. The other, OY-GDB, is currently stationed in Poland. Both units are owned by a Danish company. Presently, OY-GDA is based in Belgrade.

    The two E195s will be complemented by two wet-leased Bulgaria Air E190 jets. One is already operating on Air Serbia’s behalf, while the other is due to enter service for the Serbian carrier on June 10, although changes remain possible. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, the two wet-leases will run for the summer, with the carrier considering adding a third dry-leased E195 from the winter season. The two incoming E195s have been tentatively scheduled to enter service on July 1. They are set to debut on Air Serbia’s morning wave of departures, to Frankfurt and Milan, and continue by operating services to Naples and Bucharest in the afternoon, and once again to Frankfurt and Milan in the evening. Besides these, they have currently been scheduled to operate flights to Amsterdam, Athens, Sarajevo, Skopje, Thessaloniki, Rome, Podgorica, Tivat and Zurich throughout July.

    Commenting on the incoming E195s, Air Serbia’s CEO, Jiri Marek, said last month, “We set the target [for the introduction of the Embraer in the fleet] at three months with one month buffer which brings us to the beginning of July. At the moment, it is going according to plan. We have already hired several pilots. We are also working on the introduction of the aircraft into our internal systems, starting from maintenance to flights ops and others. At the moment, we believe that if everything goes according to plan, we will have them in the fleet flying commercial flights by the beginning of July”.

  • EX-YU airline CEOs at world’s largest aviation gathering

    The CEOs of the three remaining flag carriers from the former Yugoslavia will take part in the world's largest gathering of airline leaders - IATA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS). The 80th annual AGM, which will be hosted by Emirates, takes place in Dubai from June 2 – 4 and will be attended by Jiri Marek from Air Serbia, Mark Anžur from Air Montenegro, and Jasmin Bajić from Croatia Airlines. Mr Bajić was recently appointed to IATA’s Board of Governors, while Air Montenegro will have a representative at the event after the carrier became an IATA member last summer. Throughout the three days, over 3.000 delegates will engage in influential plenary sessions featuring high-level keynote speeches, panel discussions, and industry meetings. This by-invitation-only event is open to lATA member airlines, selected media, key industry stakeholders (including governments), and IATA strategic partners. EX-YU Aviation News is one of the selected media taking part in the event in Dubai and will bring you the latest.

  • Aegean removes planned new Skopje service

    Aegean Airlines has suspended ticket sales for its planned new service between Skopje and Corfu, which was to commence in early June with the routing Athens - Skopje - Corfu - Skopje - Athens. The flights were to be maintained twice per week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with the Skopje - Athens leg to run on Wednesdays and Sundays in the morning. Under its revised schedule, Aegean Airlines appears to have completely cancelled the two weekly flights and will no longer operate between Athens and Skopje on the two days either, reducing its overall frequencies between the two capitals from daily to five weekly starting June 4. Further changes remain possible.

  • Tunisia's Nouvelair further grows EX-YU operations

    Tunisian carrier Nouvelair plans to further grow its number of flights to former Yugoslav markets and will increase capacity by 50% this summer season compared to last year, after making additional modifications to its network over the past week. Despite the airline being a network carrier, its services to Banja Luka, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Skopje are all operated as regular charters, meaning they have a predefined schedule and run throughout the summer season, but tickets are sold exclusively through tour operators or as part of tour packages. This summer, the airline will offer a maximum capacity of 67.083 seats for its Belgrade flights, up 94.5% on last year, 11.682 for Banja Luka, an increase of 24% on the summer of 2023, 11.328 for Skopje, up 20.2%, 11.505 for Ljubljana, a decrease of 23%, but up on its previously filed schedule, and 9.204 seats on its Sarajevo operations, increasing 100% on 2023.

    Nouvelair will run 10 weekly services between Monastir and Belgrade. In June and September one of the weekly flights will operate with a triangle routing Monastir - Banja Luka - Belgrade - Monastir. During September, the carrier will also run a one weekly service between the island of Djerba and the Serbian capital. Nouvelair will maintain two weekly flights from Monastir to Banja Luka, Skopje, and Ljubljana, as well as a one weekly service to Sarajevo, with exception to June, when there will be two weekly rotations to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. All flights will be maintained by the 177-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

    Despite operating a weekly service between Monastir and Zagreb last year, from June until late September, the flights have not been added into the system for this year so far. There are currently no scheduled flights between any former Yugoslav market and Tunisia. National carrier Tunisair last maintained scheduled services to the region between Tunis and Belgrade in October 2021, after which flights were discontinued.

  • TRIP REPORT: Air France, Split - Paris

    Written by Vlad

    Date: 28.04.2024.
    Aircraft: Airbus A318 (F-GUGN)
    Flight: AF 1015 (SPU-CDG)
    Seat: 04A (Economy)

    After a short three-day trip visiting family & friends, it was time for me to return from Split (SPU) to my hometown of Paris (CDG), where I relocated last autumn. Luckily, my return coincided with the first direct flight of the season on Air France (AF), so I didn't have to connect through Amsterdam (AMS) on KLM, as I had done on the outbound. One thing that made this relatively short flight very special for me is that the scheduled equipment was none other than Airbus A318. This exceedingly rare aircraft, which is only operated by Air France and TAROM nowadays, was the last "mainstream" airplane type I hadn't flown in the almost 500 flights I've taken so far, so I was keeping my fingers crossed not to have a last-minute equipment swap. As it turned out, I barely avoided one, but more on that later.

    As it was Sunday, my ride to the airport was a breeze and my Bolt made it from downtown Split to the airport (recently renamed to Saint Jerome) in about half an hour. Better yet, as a visitor I got a 40% off promo for the first five rides, so I ended up paying only €24, which is a steal compared to taking an official taxi at €50 (or more, if you look like a particularly naive tourist). As I had checked in online the day before, I didn't have to visit the check-in desk, and instead headed straight to security with my mobile boarding pass. Speaking of check-in, one of the most annoying features of SPU (and DBV for that matter) is that airlines are not allowed to use their own online check-in systems, but instead have to go through Niko check-in, which not only has an interface from the 90s, but is also notoriously unreliable, doesn't allow you to choose a seat for connecting flights, and doesn't manage to code frequent flyer status and other metadata into the boarding pass correctly. As both SPU and DBV are government-run, I suspect that there is a well-connected third party behind this company that has a lucrative deal with the two airports for providing check-in services, with the passengers and the airlines left with a suboptimal experience as a result.

    In any case, I made my way towards security. There is a separate line for business and status passengers on the left, but as there was literally no one at security when I arrived there, I didn't bother and just went through the regular gates instead. Once there, I had to do a needless 50m slalom, as no one actively regulates the queue according to passenger flow.

    At the checkpoint, I was requested to take out liquids from my backpack, but not my laptop & electronics, which was appreciated. After a breezy security check, I made my way to the contract lounge operated by the airport. At the bottom of the stairs, there was a sign indicating which airlines are paying for lounge access for their business & status passengers. I noticed that KLM was back on the list, but SAS was still absent (both airlines try to avoid paying for contract lounges wherever possible). Note that there is no lift to the lounge level, only the two flights of stairs, so I'm not sure what provisions (if any) there are for passengers with limited mobility.

    The lounge itself is basic, but spacious and comfortable. Out of season, only half of the lounge is open, but even so I've never noticed it crowded (there is no access with Priority Pass, LoungeKey and similar services).

    There is a wide variety of hard liquor and non-alcoholic drinks, but only one type of wine, a cheap Graševina white from Northern Croatia. I find it a shame that Dalmatian wine isn't better represented in key consumer touchpoints such as airports, as the region produces some truly fantastic wines. I also found it curious that the Coca-Cola cans served at the lounge came from Poland, not Croatia.

    The food selection is best described as light snacks. There were muffins, donuts, a few types of packaged snacks, and finally bread buns with a selection of spreads, although the latter didn't look very fresh, so I stuck with peanuts and a chocolate/vanilla pudding, which was delicious.

    There are also workstations available, some of them with a monitor, keyboard & mouse for internet browsing. Power plugs are also ample throughout the lounge.

    At some point, I felt the call of nature, so I went to the toilet, which stunned me in several ways. On the one hand, this is probably the cleanest and nicest-smelling lounge toilet I've visited in my life, and it was kept impeccably clean throughout my visit. On the other hand, I'd love to know whose idea it was to put a reflective surface around the urinals. I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of showing my private parts to anyone who enters the urinal section.

    As I was getting ready to leave the lounge, I got a notification from Air France that my flight was delayed by an hour, to 19:15. However, as the lounge overlooks gate 2, where the CDG-bound flight was to depart from, I noticed that the screens were showing a new departure time of 20:00, which constituted a 1h45m delay. Ouch.

    Upon further research, I found out that the outbound flight experienced a technical glitch of some kind at CDG, which caused the pilots to return from the taxiway to the gate while the problem was fixed, causing a departure delay of two hours. Luckily, there was ultimately no aircraft swap, and I was relieved to see the A318 take off from CDG towards SPU. At 19.15, I finally headed down from the lounge to the gate. I was surprised at the number of people on the flight, considering it was the first flight of the season; I suppose these passengers had connected through AMS or ZAG on their way to SPU, and then headed back through CDG on their way back. From what I could tell, most of the passengers were neither French nor Croatian, and there were several large groups of Americans. Boarding finally began at 19.35. Families, business class and status passengers get to board through a separate line (in that order), although the benefit was moot in this instance as gate staff began boarding both lines at the same time, so by the time all the families went through, a third of economy class passengers had already boarded the plane.

    While SPU's lack of jetways is less than ideal (especially in inclement weather), the upside is that us aviation geeks are able to get a good look at the aircraft we're flying. The A318 can hardly be described as majestic in any way, but I was still excited about getting to fly on a new (for me) airplane type.

    The A318 has one of the worse economy cabins in the Air France short-haul fleet, with slimline seats with minimal padding, similar to those found on Croatia Airlines or Lufthansa Group. Legroom was likewise unimpressive (for reference, I'm 1.90m tall), and my knees were millimetres away from the seat in front at all times. That said, there are USB-A ports in every seat, and inflight wi-fi as well, with free messaging for everyone. Not bad for a 17-year-old aircraft.

    Sadly, the delay on departure meant that I missed what could have been the best part of this trip - the sunset. We took off in the westerly direction, which normally bestows a fantastic view of the Dalmatian islands on takeoff, especially during sunrise and sunset. Alas, it was not meant to be, as by the time we took off it was already almost completely dark.

    Service started soon after takeoff and consisted of a choice between chicken and vegetarian sandwich, plus beverages of choice. I opted for a chicken sandwich, red wine, and sparkling water. Although small, the sandwich was one of the best I've ever had onboard, eminently fresh, and delicious, while the wine was average, but decent enough for Economy. In my opinion, onboard service is where Air France really shines, as I don't remember the last time an airline served me wine and sparkling water in standalone packaging as part of regular catering on a short-haul European flight. The crew seemed enthusiastic and in a good mood throughout the flight.

    After an uneventful flight, we touched down at CDG after 1h49mins of flight time, followed by 12 minutes of taxiing to the gate, which is standard for CDG. It took me less than 10 minutes from exiting the aircraft to reaching my Paris-bound train; while CDG gets a lot of flak for being a complicated airport for connections (and rightly so), it's pretty great for Schengen arrivals!

    Overall, except for the two-hour delay on arrival which was due to force majeure, this was a perfectly pleasant trip. I have flown Air France extensively over the past six months in both short- and long-haul, and after a decade of almost complete loyalty to Lufthansa Group, I can freely say that Air France is head & shoulders above them in all aspects and one of the last airlines in Europe to offer anything resembling a legacy product in Economy. Add to that the irony of a far smaller likelihood of French staff going on strike vs. their German counterparts, and it's easy to see why I'm never looking back.

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  • Air Serbia sees record US passenger performance

    Air Serbia has marked its first year of operations between Belgrade and Chicago, carrying over 40.000 passengers during the twelve-month period. Furthermore, it uplifted almost 750 tons of cargo on the route. Since launching the service on May 17, 2023, the airline operated a total of 123 flights to the Windy City. Chicago is Air Serbia’s second destination in North America, after New York City. Jointly, over 100.000 passengers flew between Serbia and the United States on Air Serbia flights in 2023. The airline inaugurated Chicago last May, seven years after operations to the Big Apple commenced. It confirmed the addition of its third destination on the continent, to Miami, from next year. Air Serbia runs three weekly flights to Chicago over the summer, and two weekly during the winter months.

    Commenting on its first year of operations to Chicago, Air Serbia’s Vice President Americas, George Petković, said, “The establishment of a nonstop service between Belgrade and Chicago was a very important step in the development and improvement of our company's services. After a hiatus of more than three decades, we were able to delight passengers and enable them to easily reach their loved ones living in the wider Balkan region. The large number of passengers carried speaks volumes about the necessity of the nonstop route between Belgrade and Chicago. Furthermore, it has contributed to better cultural and economic exchange between Serbia and North America. We are confident that demand for these flights will only increase in the years to come, and we will do everything in our power to adequately meet it”.

    In 2023, Air Serbia also saw figures grow on its flagship New York operation based on data provided to EX-YU Aviation News by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The carrier welcomed a total of 87.723 passengers on the route, representing an increase of 18.2% on the previous year, or an additional 13.527 travellers. The result was achieved despite the launch of the Chicago service and increased competition from other European carriers, which have ramped up flights in the aftermath of the pandemic and US entry restrictions. The Bureau has still not begun collecting data for Air Serbia’s Chicago service. Last year, the Serbian carrier inked a wide-ranging codeshare agreement with jetBlue. It now codeshares on twenty destinations operated by its US counterpart out of New York JFK.

  • Turkish remains Ljubljana’s busiest, Swiss sees strong growth

    Turkish Airlines maintained its position as Slovenian’s and Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport’s busiest carrier during the first quarter of the year, carrying 44.512 passengers. It improved its figures by 23.2% year-on-year on the back of a 19.8% capacity increase. It was proceeded by Lufthansa, which saw 20% passenger growth. Its subsidiary - Swiss - was one of the fastest growing airlines at the airport, with 24.095 travellers handled on its Ljubljana flights, up 49.3% on 2023. The carrier significantly increased its operations to the Slovenian capital with 31.4% more flights, resulting in a 55.9% increase in capacity.

    Ljubljana Airport Q1 passenger performance by airline

    * Service discontinued in February

    Other strong performers included Flydubai and Air Serbia, both of which saw their passenger numbers grow over 10%. Low cost carrier Transavia registered triple digit growth, however, this was primarily the result of a lack of flights last year. The airline suspended services to Ljubljana during February and most of March in 2023. Wizz Air continued its strong performance on the Skopje service, launched last September, with an average cabin load factor of 92% for the duration of the first quarter. On the other hand, its figures on the London Luton route declined as the service was discontinued in February.

    Air France recorded an 18% slump in its Ljubljana figures, on the back of reduced operations. Despite being one of Ljubljana’s busiest carriers during the pandemic, the French airline cut flights by 28% during the first quarter of this year along with a 16.3% reduction in capacity. This trend is expected to continue into the second and third quarters. LOT Polish Airlines saw a 13% reduction in passengers, along with a 6.3% cut in capacity. The Polish carrier faces increased competition for transfer passengers to the Baltics, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe from the second quarter onwards, following airBaltic’s arrival in Ljubljana late last month. New entrant Luxair handled 2.300 travellers in Q1 with an average load of 58.2% on its Dash 8 turboprops.

  • FlyBosnia hits €1.5 million in tax debt

    The defunct carrier FlyBosnia has been revealed to owe 1.5 million euros in VAT debt to the taxation office. The debt was amassed in just over a year and half of operations, between January 2019 and November 2020. FlyBosnia was set up by Saudi Arabia's Al Shiddi Group, which was founded in 1975 with interests in various fields, including construction, real estate, agriculture, and tourism. The Saudi conglomerate has been operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2006. At one point, FlyBosnia boasted two Airbus A319 aircraft in its fleet. It is unlikely the taxation office will be able to recover the debt.

  • Zagreb Airport working on year-round Korea flights

    South Korea’s T’Way Air arrived in Zagreb yesterday evening (pictured), marking the start of its new three weekly seasonal summer service from Seoul. As reported yesterday, the carrier boasted a 97% load factor on its inaugural journey, which was operated via Bishkek for operational reasons, with the Airbus A330-300 aircraft. “We are delighted that Seoul and Zagreb, as the capitals of the two countries, are connected again following a five-year hiatus. We are aware that Koreans are in love with Croatia, and we will do our best to ensure all our guests from Korea have a pleasant travel experience at the airport. This year marks the start of direct flights to Korea again, and we will continue to work on additional connectivity to establish a year-round service with even more frequencies in the future”, Zagreb Airport’s Chief Operating Officer, Nicolas Duthilleul, said.

  • Korea’s T’Way Air lifts off for Zagreb

    Seasonal summer flights between Seoul and Zagreb resumed this morning following an almost five-year hiatus with low cost carrier T’Way Air inaugurating services between the two cities with a load factor of 97%. It marks the first time a budget airline has maintained long-haul operations to the region. The 347-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft, featuring twelve seats in business class and the remaining 335 in economy, will run the service three times per week. The flights include a technical stop in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan on the outbound leg due to the range of the aircraft and the need to avoid Russian airspace. Seats between Seoul and Bishkek are not sold on this flight.

    The service is primarily aimed at South Korean tourists booking through local tour operators, although individual tickets can also be purchased online. Travel agents have warned the flights are too expensive and the stop in Bishkek, along with the low cost product, make it a difficult sell to consumers. “I am worried because sales are lower than expected, not only in May but also after June. Travel agencies participating in hard block space agreements [purchase of seats in bulk by tour operators regardless of whether they are sold or not] are now focusing on attracting customers by offering flash discounts for nearby departure dates”, a South Korean tour operator told the specialsed Korean "Travis" portal. They added, “In the case of Croatia, most tour operator include two to three nearby countries in their packages, so it is not necessarily about going in or out of Zagreb. There are many transfer options with little price difference. However, it has been difficult to secure seats for tour groups on flights to Europe since Covid-19, and we decided that participating in the Zagreb hard block space agreement would be advantageous for other European destinations in the future, so we decided to purchase seats even if it was a bit unreasonable There is still a lack of awareness about this route so the airline needs to promote it".

    On the other hand, the Uniline Group, Croatia’s leading destination management company, is confident in the route’s success. Representatives from the company recently spent two weeks in South Korea and China and have held talks with T’Way Air. “This significant success is the result of many years of discussions, investments in market development and excellent relations between the Uniline Group, the Croatian embassies in China and South Korea, the Ministry for Tourism and Sport and the Croatian Tourist Board with our Asian partners”, Uniline said. In preparation for the new service, T’Way Air recently named Tamex as its General Sales Agent in Croatia. Tamex has confirmed it will sell cargo capacity on the new route.

    Due to the journey time, lasting fifteen hours and twenty minutes on the outbound and ten hours and 55 minutes on the inbound, the onboard service will somewhat differ from the majority of T’Way’s other flights. All passengers will enjoy two complimentary meals - beef and mushroom porridge, as well as a sausage and egg brunch. Business class passengers are offered complimentary checked-in luggage amounting to forty kilograms, two carry-on bags and an angled seat. Baggage allowance for economy class passengers varies based on fare type but is complementary. Seat selection is offered as an ancillary service during the booking process. While there is no in-flight entertainment, economy class seats have USB ports, while business class seats have power outlets.

  • Belgrade Airport registers busiest April

    Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport handled 610.944 passengers in April, representing an increase of 5.5% on last year. It also marks the first time the airport has welcomed over 600.000 travellers through its doors during the month. The number of commercial aircraft movements grew 6.3%. Over the January - April period, a total of 2.220.343 customers passed through the airport, up 17.3% on the same period in 2023, representing 327.798 additional travellers. 

    Belgrade’s largest airlines by scheduled seat capacity, April 2024

  • Azerbaijan Airlines extends Tivat service

    Azerbaijan Airlines will extend its seasonal operations between Baku and Tivat this summer. The carrier resumed its flights to the coastal city two weeks ago, maintaining two weekly rotations. Unlike last year, it will continue to operate the service twice per week in September and once per week in October until October 17. In 2023, the last flight between the two was operated on August 31. This year, the airline will run two flights to Tivat with the 122-seat Airbus A319 aircraft, thirteen with the 174-seat A320, and 27 with the 186-seat A320neo jet. Azerbaijan Airlines will face competition on the route for the first time, with Air Montenegro launching scheduled seasonal flights between Tivat and Baku on June 3.

  • Air Serbia takes delivery of ninth ATR72

    Air Serbia welcomed the ninth ATR72-600 turboprop aircraft to its fleet in Belgrade yesterday. Registered YU-ASE, the aircraft is eight years old and was previously operated by Brazil’s Azul Airlines. As previously reported, the airline is due to take the delivery of another ATR72-600s this summer for a total of ten. This month, 32% of Air Serbia’s flights are being operated by the ATRs.

  • Six EX-YU airports below pre-Covid flight and capacity volumes

    Six airports across the former Yugoslavia are still struggling to reach their pre-pandemic volume of scheduled flights and capacity. Ljubljana, Tivat, Tuzla, Pula, Ohrid and Rijeka, will be well below in both metrics during the busy second and third quarters of the year when compared to the same period in 2019. Ljubljana Airport is the largest among them, still struggling to compensate for the loss of Slovenia’s national carrier Adria Airways. During Q2, scheduled capacity is down 33.3%, while the number of operated flights has decreased 44.1%. The situation remains unchanged in Q3, with capacity and flights down 34.9% and 43% respectively.

    Tivat continues to seek a replacement for the loss of three large source markets - Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. During the second quarter, available capacity has declined 12.6%, while the number of operated flights is down 18.3%. In Q3 capacity will be 15% below 2019 levels, while the number of flights will decrease 19.1%. Compared to five years ago, airlines including Aeroflot, Pobeda, Azur Air, NordStar, Ural Airlines, S7 Airlines, and Brussels Airlines no longer serve Tivat, while Air Montenegro has significantly fewer flights and seats than the country’s former national carrier, which declared bankruptcy in December 2020.

    Tuzla Airport’s capacity and flights have been wiped out by Wizz Air’s base closure last September. Both are down 80% in the second and third quarters. This summer, Pula sees its capacity decline 32.4%, while flights are down 30.1% during Q2, while figures marginally improve in Q3, when both will be down 27%. Pula Airport’s General Manager, Nina Vojnić Žagar, said recently, “Although the majority of airports undertake measures and activities to increase their number of routes and overall traffic, the airport’s mission is not to develop the market and bring passengers to the region it is located in. The decision made by tourist organisations, airlines, or individual travellers to fly to a certain airport depends on the political situation, the degree of democracy, cultural events such as concerts and sporting events, accommodation and its quality, economic development, climate etc. All of these are not dependent on the airport. For this reason, the airport cannot be solely responsible for the development of the route network and frequencies”.

    In Ohrid, the number of available seats during the second quarter is down 19.6%, while flights are 30.4% below pre-Covid levels. Both metrics will be down around 23% in Q3. Wizz Air is the main culprit for the decline, however, Ohrid is no longer served by Turkey’s Onur Air, which has since gone bankrupt. At Rijeka Airport, capacity has decreased 22.9% in Q2 2024 compared to five years ago, while the number of scheduled flights is down 16.2%. The situation will somewhat improve during Q3, with both down just 7.6%. Unlike five years ago, the airport is no longer served by Air Baltic and Volotea.