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  • How to tell an F-16 Fighting Falcon from a Eurofighter Typhoon
    There are a number of reasons why you might need to quickly point out the differences between a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and a Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon. You might be writing a review of an airshow, as a completely random example. Or you might be abducted by aliens who insist that you explain Earth…
  • More than you ever wanted to know about Baltic International Air Show 2024
    Thirteen thousand people descended on Liepāja Airport for the Baltic International Air Show on the weekend of June 15th. One of them was me, clutching a VIP ticket that I’d been offered just the week before. I expected an intimate airshow at a small airfield but the Baltic International Air Show was clearly a major…
  • The Fenestron Factor: Cabri G2 Crash in Gruyéres
    The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) has released the final report for the Cabri G2 light helicopter crash in Gruyères, Switzerland in 2022. I wrote about it at the time, but I’m repeating the information and the videos here for reference. The final report is only available in French, with no mention of it…
  • Hail Damage to Austrian Airlines A320
    I’ve been intrigued by the photographs being passed around of the Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 that flew into a hailstorm. We’ve seen some hail-battered planes before but this one took the nose cone right off! Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is the flag carrier of Austria. They ordered four new Airbus A320neo aircraft in…
  • Cessna 172M forced landing after go-around in New South Wales
    On the 15th of October 2023, a private pilot rented a Cessna 172M from Air Gold Coast for a private flight from Gold Coast Airport, Queensland, to Murwilumbah, New South Wales. The aircraft, registered as VH-JUA, was 47 years old and had been in Australia since 1989. It had over 14,000 hours, although there were…
  • Continental flight 11
    Sixty-two years ago, on the 22nd of May 1962, Continental Airlines flight 11 broke up at 39,000 feet. Flight 11 was the last flight of the day: a one-hour commuter flight from Chicago O’Hare, Illinois, to Kansas City, Missouri. It was a stormy Tuesday evening and only half of the seats had been sold. The…
  • Terminally Early: The Berlin Viewing Platform
    Mistakes were made. All of them were mine. Before I left for Dresden, I planned out my full itinerary. Berlin is a much busier airport than Tallinn, so I needed to remember that when it was time to leave, I’d need to arrive two hours before. When I added the revised time to my online…
  • Extreme Turbulence in Singapore Airlines flight 321
    A few days ago (21st of May 2024), Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered heavy turbulence on a passenger flight from London-Heathrow to Singapore. There were 229 on board, including eighteen crew members. The flight had been uneventful until about ten hours into the flight. The aircraft was cruising at FL370 (37,000 feet) while breakfast was…
  • 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,…

EX-YU Aviation News

EX-YU Aviation News

Latest news from the aviation world of the former Yugoslavia
  • Niš Airport negotiating new routes ahead of terminal opening

    Niš Constantine the Great Airport will open its new terminal building (pictured) within the next ten days with talks underway to secure new flights for the 2025 summer season. It comes as the airport faces declining passenger numbers, handling 168.406 travellers during the first half of the year, down 19% on the same period in 2023. The airport blames the underperformance on Wizz Air which has been forced to reduce its operations due to the grounding of aircraft as a result of manufacturing issues with engines on part of its fleet. “The big changes that are happening in Niš are being monitored by other airlines that currently do not serve the city. We are in contact with them” Dušan Kovačević, the CEO of Niš Airport, said.

    The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Goran Vesić, previously noted that discussions were ongoing with Air Serbia for the introduction of several new routes from Niš, in addition to the existing seven which are maintained as part of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract. “We are in discussions with Air Serbia for the opening of several new routes from Niš. I will be working on this matter in the coming period so Niš will continue to have more and more passengers”, Mr Vesić said, without specifying the potential new routes. The carrier currently maintains services from the southeast Serbian city to Belgrade, Cologne, Hahn, Istanbul, and Ljubljana, as well as seasonally to Athens and Tivat. It also runs a number of summer charters.


    The new terminal building in Niš is currently undergoing Operational Readiness and Airport Transition procedures ahead of its imminent opening. The new facility has the capacity to handle 1.5 million passengers per year and up to six aircraft at the same time. It boasts ten check-in desks, self-check-in stations, eight passport control booths, four passenger gates and one VIP gate. Furthermore, it features a luggage sorting facility. New food and beverage outlets, as well as duty free shops will be added over an area 700 square metres. Initially, it will be used for departing passengers with the old terminal to be used for handling arriving travellers. However, the airport plans to demolish the old terminal and construct a new building which will form a single functioning unit with the new terminal. A car park with the capacity for 580 vehicles, has also been built.


  • China Southern Airlines prepares for Belgrade launch

    China Southern Airlines is preparing for the launch of two weekly flights between Guangzhou and Belgrade by the end of the year. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, services are expected to commence around the same time as Air Serbia introduces its operations between the two cities, which was recently scheduled for September 30. The two carriers are set to cooperate on the new route, with a codeshare agreement likely. China Southern, which currently serves ten European airports, would provide connections to its extensive network, which includes the rest of China, Asia and Australia. Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province and a major commercial hub in South China, has led the country in airport passenger numbers for four consecutive years.

    This July, China Southern Airlines is the sixth largest airline in the world based on available seat capacity and the seventh in terms of the number of operated flights. It will become the second Chinese carrier to serve Belgrade after Hainan Airlines, which maintains operations from Beijing, and the third scheduled wide-body operator at the airport, with the airline expected to deploy its Dreamliner jets on the route. During an official visit to Serbia in May, China’s President Xi Jinping, called on for the introduction of more flights between the two countries. “We encourage airlines from both sides to launch more flights between the two countries, as well as direct flights between Belgrade and Guangzhou”, Mr Xi said.

    During the January - May period, a total of 46.977 Chinese tourists visited Serbia, representing an increase of 70.8% on 2023. A series of strategic cooperation agreements were recently reached between Guangdong province and Serbia. A delegation from the province, led by its Vice Governor, visited the country late last month to promote trade and tourism. A Free Trade Agreement between Serbia and China, signed in October 2023, came into effect on July 1. Covering over 20.000 products, exports such as fresh apples, blueberries, dried plums, jams, seeds, and beef from Serbia to the Chinese market can now proceed without tariffs. The agreement aims for full liberalisation within fifteen years and is expected to significantly boost cargo between the two countries.


  • Mark Anžur dismissed as Air Montenegro CEO
    NEWS FLASH


    The Montenegrin government has dismissed Mark Anžur from the position of CEO at the state-owned flag carrier Air Montenegro. Mr Anžur was named at the helm of the company in May of last year. He has been replaced by the new acting CEO, Vukadin Stojanović. The government cited poor performance as the reason for Mr Anžur’s dismissal. However, this in contrast to official results which saw the airline post a net profit of two million euros last year. Revenue during the first half of this year stood at 18.3 million euros, slightly lower than the 20.3 million euros during the same period in 2023. The airline noted that the suspension of its flights to Tel Aviv impacted the result.

  • Sun d’Or touches down in Belgrade
    NEWS FLASH


    Sun d’Or, the leisure subsidiary of El Al, introduced flights between Tel Aviv and Belgrade yesterday evening, becoming the second carrier to fly between the two cities. The inaugural flight, which was full, was welcomed by the Israeli Ambassador to Serbia, as well as officials from the El Al group. Flights will initially be maintained twice per week, increasing to three weekly from the start of the 2024/25 winter season, in late October. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, demand for the new service has been strong, with both tourists from Israel but also groups from Serbia traveling for pilgrimage to Israel. Tickets for the new route can be purchased through the El Al website, travel agents and tour operators.











  • Tuzla secures year-round Pegasus Airlines service

    Pegasus Airlines will commence a new scheduled service between Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport and Tuzla on August 24. It will become the first established carrier to launch operations to the airport since Ryanair maintained its short-lived flights to Tuzla between November 2022 and June 2023. Pegasus Airlines is currently scheduled to operate one weekly year-round service to Tuzla, each Saturday. Tickets for the new route are currently available for purchase through the carrier’s mobile app although sales through its website are yet to commence. 

    Tuzla Airport has been struggling since its sole scheduled carrier, Wizz Air, closed its base in the city in September last year, citing a challenging macroeconomic environment, along with complicated weather conditions, such as frequent fogs. As a result, it discontinued thirteen of its sixteen routes from Tuzla. Since then, local authorities have held public calls in an attempt to secure the arrival of new airlines in return for subsidies. A short-lived agreement was struck with Greek carrier Lumiwings for the stationing of an aircraft in the city and the launch of six new routes in return for 1.5 million euros in subsidies over the 2023/24 winter season. However, just a month and a half after introducing flights, operations were cancelled and the airline pulled out of the arrangement, citing poor loads and a spat with the airport over financing.

    Tuzla Airport handled 90.942 passengers during the first half of the year, representing a decrease of 67.1% on the same period in 2023. Last month, the Tuzla Canton government said it would provide financial assistance to the tune of 1.3 million euros to airlines that commence services to the city. “The funds the government has secured will not be utilised until we receive firm guarantees they will be used adequately, meaning they will have a positive impact on the community and full aircraft. We don’t want a repeat of what we had with the previous airline [Lumiwings]. We were faced with pressure to secure flights, and we went into that arrangement on the recommendations of the airport and relevant ministry. We ended up with half empty planes and even more than that”.

    Further flight details for Pegasus Airlines’ Tuzla service can be found here.


  • Croatia Airlines schedules A220 entry into service
    NEWS FLASH


    Croatia Airlines has scheduled services on its new 148-seat Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which performed its first test flight on Tuesday prior to delivery. The aircraft has been tentatively scheduled to operate its first revenue service, between Zagreb and Frankfurt, on Tuesday, July 30, as flight OU416. The jet will then perform a Frankfurt - Split rotation before returning from the German city to the Croatian capital. Changes remain possible.


    The new jet will feature onboard Wi-FI, USB A and USB C ports at each seat, as well as smartphone and tablet holders. The aircraft’s spacious overhead compartments, the largest for a jet its size, will allow for every passenger to accommodate one roller bag.


  • Ljubljana Airport sees improved H1 results
    NEWS FLASH


    Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport handled 148.159 passengers in June, representing an increase of 15.3% on the same month last year. However, the figure is still down 21.5% on the pre-pandemic 2019. During the first half of year, Ljubljana Airport welcomed 651.130 travellers, up 21.5% and down 24.3% on 2023 and 2019 respectively.


    Ljubljana’s largest airlines by scheduled seat capacity, June 2024


  • Croatia Airlines’ first A220 performs test flight prior to delivery

    Croatia Airlines’ first Airbus A220-300 aircraft, leased from the Air Lease Corporation and named Zagreb, performed a test flight at Montreal’s Mirabel Airport yesterday evening local time. The jet, currently bearing the temporary Airbus test registration C-FPBE, before being re-registered as 9A-CAE, performed an engine run and taxi check, a rejected take-off, and was airborne for three and a half hours. Croatia Airlines previously noted it anticipates for the aircraft to be delivered by the end of July. Airbus typically conducts one to several test flights, depending on performance, prior to delivery to the customer. The Croatian carrier has said it plans to deploy its first A220 on flights between Zagreb and Frankfurt, as well as Split and Frankfurt, before progressively scheduling the jet on other routes.

    Stevan Udvar-Hazy, Executive Chairman of the Air Lease Corporation, from which the Croatian carrier is financially leasing six A220s, including the first one, said, “We want to acknowledge the hard work, long hours, critical strategic analysis and decision-making that commenced more than four years ago in close collaboration between Air Lease Corporation, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney and the entire team at Croatia Airlines, which ultimately resulted in the selection of the Airbus A220 model by the airline. As the most modern, technologically advanced, and only clean sheet designed single-aisle aircraft in production, the first A220 delivery is a wonderful achievement that commences the fleet transformation project at Croatia Airlines”. He added, “Air Lease Corporation is honoured to have been selected by Croatia Airlines to lead the project as the first lessor to introduce the A220 to the airline and support Croatia’s major fleet modernisation program”.

    Croatia Airlines will take delivery of a total of fifteen A220s up until 2027 and has slightly tweaked its order. It now plans to take two instead of three A220-100s. as well as thirteen instead of twelve A220-300s. A second jet, named Split, is expected to be delivered by the end of the year, followed by six in 2025, four in 2026 and two in 2027. The airline recently inked an agreement with TP Aerospace for MRO services specifically tailored to the A220’s wheel maintenance needs, as well as a comprehensive component support agreement with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance.


  • Pristna Airport to get city rail link
    NEWS FLASH


    Construction of a rail link between Pristina’s city cnetre and the airport is expected to begin this year, according to authorities. The project, which has been delayed for over a decade, has now received funding from the European Union, according to the Minister for Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure, Liburn Aliu, and work on the line should begin this year. The project is expected to involve the rehabilitation of an existing railway line in Pristina, construction of a missing link from the existing line to the terminal and construction of a railway terminal within the airport. No timeline has been given as to when construction could begin this year or how long the project will take to be completed.

  • AJet to launch new Skopje service
    NEWS FLASH


    Turkish Airlines’ low cost subsidiary AJet will commence seasonal flights between Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport and Skopje. The new service will launch this Saturday, July 13, and run four times per week, on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Some of the flights will be maintained with wet-leased Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Airbus A321 aircraft operated by SmartLynx, as well as A321s by Indonesia’s BBN Airlines. AJet itself will utilise a mix of A321neos and B737-800s when maintaining the route with its own equipment. The service is scheduled to run until October 13. It will compete directly against Pegasus Airlines. AJet already operates seasonal flights from Bodrum to the Macedonian capital. Further flight details can be found here.

  • airBaltic’s Balkan expansion “one of the biggest changes to Riga network”

    airBaltic has expanded across the Balkans this year and added new destinations in the former Yugoslavia including Ljubljana, Skopje, and Pristina, complementing Belgrade and Tivat, which were added to the network in 2023. Services to the Slovenian capital have been extended to year-round operations, with the route benefiting from the country’s subsidy program aimed at improving Ljubljana’s connectivity, On the other hand, its seasonal flights to Pristina have been cut-short by over a month. Commenting on its performance in the region, airBaltic told EX-YU Aviation News, “This has been one of the biggest changes to our Riga network since the pandemic. We have started generating completely new traffic flows via Riga by connecting the Baltic and Nordic countries to the Balkan countries and back. As with most new routes, we have some that overperform and some that underperform compared to our business case. For example, on some routes, we have noticed very strong demand directionality, which can be challenging to overcome, while on others we were surprised to see strong incoming demand to the Baltic and Nordic countries”.

    Asked if it has plans to upgrade any of its seasonal routes within the former Yugoslavia to year-round operations beyond Ljubljana, the carrier said, “Currently, there are no plans to add other routes in the region to year-round operations”. The Latvian flag carrier did not want to be drawn on whether Zagreb or Sarajevo could join its network next year. “We have a list of many potential new routes, and it is being updated before each season to determine the best options for expansion”. This year, airBaltic has a total of 132.260 seats on flights to and from the former Yugoslavia. Out of those, the largest amount of capacity, 23.7%, is to Croatia, where the airline flies from Riga and Tallinn to Dubrovnik and Split, as well as from Vilnius to Dubrovnik.

    Late last year, the Slovenian government held talks with representatives from airBaltic and discussed the possibility of the opening of a new base in Ljubljana. At the time, airBaltic representatives said they had no plans to open a base in the city, noting that such action would require substantial financial and organisational investment, along with the need to establish a new brand on the Slovenian market. Asked by EX-YU Aviation News whether it has reconsidered its position, the airline noted, “We cannot comment on this specific case, but considering our fleet growth in the future, we are open to investigating different opportunities and underserved markets across Europe”.


  • 75 years of Belgrade - Zurich flights

    Written by Veljko Marinković

    A nonstop air link between Zurich and Belgrade, the largest cities in both Switzerland and the former Yugoslavia, was established exactly 75 years ago. Swissair's first DC-3 took off from Zurich's relatively new Kloten Airport and headed towards Belgrade's old airport. Not only was Swissair the first Western European airline to serve the former Yugoslavia following World War II, but Belgrade was also among the first Eastern European capitals to be connected to the West via air travel, making the launch of these flights highly significant. Just over a month later, on August 24, 1949, JAT Yugoslav Airlines introduced a scheduled service from Belgrade to Zurich via Zagreb with a DC-3, making it the fifth foreign airline globally to do so. By starting these flights, Belgrade and other parts of EX-YU gained indirect access to other regions of the world and connected to a major European air traffic hub.

    JAT DC-3 pictured at Zurich Kloten Airport at the beginning of the 1950s

    Beginning in 1939, Swissair operated three promotional flights (South, North, and West) to the National Exhibition with the DC-3 HB-IRA, marking the beginning of sporadic flights between Belgrade and Zurich. Starting its journey from Zurich and onto Rome, Athens, Cairo, Athens, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Budapest, and back to Zurich was the path taken by the first aircraft. Additionally, freight flights were operated, the majority of which carried gold reserves from a Swiss bank. Initially, from 1949, depending on the season, there were one or two weekly scheduled flights between Belgrade and Zurich. The fact that JU320/321 and SR246/247 were operated in a single day or that the DC-3 aircraft's return flight took place the next day was also impacted by the seasons. The introduction of flights to Zurich was of particular importance for Yugoslavia since it reduced dependence on Prague, which was formerly the main transit point for travellers from Yugoslavia to abroad and vice versa. The vast majority of passengers and cargo transported on the Belgrade - Zurich route were also in transit to other destinations.

    Swissair destination network 1957 » Swissair ad for Belgrade flights by von Henri Ott, 1951

    It is interesting to note that it took longer than anticipated for other foreign airlines to begin nonstop flights to Belgrade. Swissair was the sole foreign carrier until 1954 when the Greek TAE began service on the Athens – Thessaloniki - Belgrade route, and British Eagle Aviation began service from London via Munich. The Soviet Aeroflot then joined in 1955. It was therefore not surprising that, among all foreign airlines, Swissair continued to hold the lead in terms of passengers transported at Belgrade Airport in the early 1960s of the 20th century. In 1956, JAT operated flights using a mix of DC-3s, IL-14s, and Convair aircraft, while Swissair upgraded to a larger and more modern Convair 440 Metropolitan. In the mid-1960s, JAT doubled the number of flights and passengers on its Belgrade -Zurich flights, but the biggest increase was recorded in 1964 when JAT deployed the Caravelle jet on the route. On the other hand, Swissair also introduced the Caravelle into regular traffic to Belgrade, with Swissair being the first airline to land a jet plane at the newly opened airport in 1962.

    Swissair Coronado 880 jet and crew at Belgrade Airport, 1967 » Swissair Convair 440 Metropoliten at Belgrade Airport, April 1962

    Apart from offering nonstop flights to Belgrade, Swissair had another historic moment at Belgrade Airport in in 1965 when it started operating two-weekly 4-engine Coronado 880 flights to Istanbul via Belgrade. However, JAT also valued special occasions, so in 1969 it deployed the DC-9 (leased I-DIKY), on the Belgrade - Zurich route, further highlighting the significance of this service and its influence on the growth of the company. Both airlines started offering new flights from Zurich to other EX-YU cities in the 1970s, and as EX-YU aviation grew, so did the number of flights on the Belgrade - Zurich route. At the same time the capacity of the aircraft used expanded. Belgrade was also selected by Swissair to be among the first cities where its new DC-9-81 was deployed. Both airlines were running daily flights between the two cities by the end of the 1980s. In tribute to Swissair being the first foreign airline to fly to Belgrade following World War II, Swissair’s newly acquired Fokker 100 aircraft made its inaugural flight from Zurich to Belgrade on May 25, 1988.

    JAT Caravelle jet at Zurich Airport, 1965

    First JAT DC-9 on final approach at Zurich Airport, operating its maiden flight, 1969

    It is interesting to note that both national carriers accomplished enviable cooperation through knowledge-sharing and personnel training. JAT made the initial modifications to the DC-3 type aircraft, following Swissair in the process. It built and installed lighter, thinner seats in its workshop so that the DC-3 could carry 28 people rather than the original 20. Swissair handled JAT’s ticket sales in Switzerland until 1963 when Yugoslav Airlines opened its own office at 70 Limmatquai Street in downtown Zurich. JAT also handled Swissair’s ticket sales in Belgrade. Afterwards, JAT performed some of its DC-10 maintenance at the Swiss carrier's hangars.

    JAT DC-9 pictured at Zurich Airport, on August 24, 1974, exactly 25 years after the first flight between Belgrade and Zurich » Swissair DC-9 at Belgrade Airport pictured on July 9, 1974, exactly 25 years after first flight between Belgrade and Zurich » Swissair stewardesses Rita Gans Wein and Ursula Sieber alongside JATs Snežana Ristić celebrating 25th anniversary » A map for JAT’s office in Zurich downtown, 1974 »

    Swissair advertisements published in Yugoslav newspapers, in the 1970s

    JAT: 40 years of flying Belgrade-Zurich postcard, 1989

    Swissair: Thank you note to Yugoslavia and JAT for 40 years of cooperation, 1989

    Sadly, the first flight disruptions between the two cities occurred in the early years of the 1990s as a result of the sanctions that were put in force. Swissair halted all its flights to Belgrade on May 31, 1991, and two days later, JAT followed likewise. When services restarted in 1994, JAT operated a combination of DC-9, Boeing 727, and 737 aircraft, while Swissair primarily used the McDonnell Douglas MD-81 "mad dog" aircraft. The first commercial aircraft from a Western foreign airline to land at Belgrade Airport following a lifted flight ban (imposed due to NATO bombing) was an Airbus A321 flown by Swissair from Zurich on March 22, 2000. A few minutes later, an Olympic Airways aircraft from Athens landed at Belgrade Airport, while Aeroflot was already connecting Moscow and Belgrade. When new nonstop flights between Belgrade and Zurich operated by Montenegro Airlines were added at the start of the new millennium, the number of airlines operating between the two cities increased to three. These flights were in operation until 2006. The number of passengers and flights increased steadily in the coming period, so it was not uncommon to see a wide-body DC-10 on a scheduled flight between the two cities, and nowadays during the holidays Air Serbia’s Airbus A330 with Nikola Tesla or Mihajlo Pupin livery.

    JAT DC -10 taxing at Zurich Airport by Pascal Simon, 2003

    SWISS Airbus A319 at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2011

    Today, 75 years later, Zurich remains one of Belgrade's most popular destinations. It is served by both Swiss International Air Lines and Air Serbia and is ranked third in terms of weekly flights, just behind Tivat and Podgorica.

    Air Serbia Airbus A319, Zurich Airport by Andre Bonn




  • Pristina Airport registers record first half of year
    NEWS FLASH


    Pristina Airport handled a record 1.839.112 passengers during the first half of the year, representing an increase of 20.5% over the same period in 2023. The number of commercial aircraft movements grew 14.2% to 11.948. The airport anticipates handling over four million travellers this year.

  • Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Zagreb become fastest-growing airports in Q3

    The airports in Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Zagreb will be the fastest growing in the former Yugoslavia during the third quarter (July - October). The trio will add the most scheduled capacity on the same period last year. Dubrovnik Airport will lead the way, with an additional 171.203 seats. The strong growth comes on the back of the opening of Ryanair’s base in the city this summer, with the airport to boast a total of 891.385 seats during the three-month period. Ryanair alone will account for 252.688 seats or some 28% of total capacity, whereas last year its share stood at just 4.6%. The majority of other airlines operating into Dubrovnik will also grow their capacity during the third quarter, with some of the biggest increases coming from Volotea, easyJet and Iberia.

    Sarajevo Airport is set to continue posting record passenger results with the airport adding 125.359 seats during Q3 2024 for total scheduled capacity of 438.761. The growth is being fuelled by the introduction of new flights by numerous airlines, led by Ryanair with the addition of 62.844 seats, followed by Pegasus Airlines, Air Arabia, and Jazeera Airways. Over in Zagreb, the airport is adding an additional 119.450 seats during the third quarter, with Ryanair alone increasing its capacity by 96.698 seats and being one of the main catalysts for growth. However, a number of other airlines have also increased operations, including Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa, and Iberia, while South Korea’s T’Way Air will contribute as well, adding 13.533 seats on the market during the quarter.

    Scheduled capacity difference at airports in the former Yugoslavia, Q3 2024 vs Q3 2023


    On the other hand, not all airports will be growing when compared to the third quarter of last year. Tuzla Airport will be hardest hit, loosing 72.545 seats, or around 78% of its total capacity. It comes as a result of the closure of Wizz Air’s base in the city last September. It will be followed by Niš, which has been impacted by Wizz Air’s capacity cuts over engine troubles, losing 23.326 seats on Q3 2023. Similarly, Ohrid will have 15.516 fewer seats and Banja Luka 15.131 for the same reason. Overall, the destination which which will see the most capacity added out of the former Yugoslavia during the third quarter is Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen, followed by London Stansted and Munich, while those that will loose the most seats are Dortmund, Malmo, and Stockholm Skavsta. Airlines modify capacity on a daily basis and changes remain likely.


  • Air Serbia handles two-millionth passenger
    NEWS FLASH


    Air Serbia handled its two millionth passenger of the year today, eleven days ahead of 2023. Since the start of the year, Air Serbia operated 22.155 flights, representing an extra 1.713 operations on 2023. The carrier’s CEO, Jiri Marek, said, “Air Serbia is making better progress each year, as evidenced by the company’s results. In 2022, we carried our two-millionth passenger on October 5, and last year we managed to do so two and a half months earlier, on July 19. Now we have raised the bar even further and today, we carried our two-millionth passenger in 2024. Despite the challenges the aviation industry is facing this summer, we are trying to offer our passengers the best service and be a reliable partner on their trips. The trust our passengers place in us, by choosing the Serbian national airline as their carrier, proves that our dedication has been recognised, which makes us very happy and proud”.

  • Air Serbia pushes back E195 entry into service
    NEWS FLASH


    Air Serbia has delayed the launch of its in-house Embraer E195 operations until August 1. The airline initially planned to commence flights from Belgrade with one of the E195s on July 15 and the second on August 1. However, both jets are now expected to enter into service on August 1. On that day, the first destinations that will see Air Serbia’s E195 are Gothenburg and Milan Malpensa during the morning wave of departures and Sarajevo and Thessaloniki during the afternoon wave. The aircraft are expected to be scheduled on more routes and changes remain possible. Both of Air Serbia’s E195s are now in Belgrade. They will bear the registrations YU-ATA and YU-ATB. The airline has previously said it intends to introduce the Embraers into the fleet in July but that it has planned a one month buffer.

  • Air Serbia handles 1.8 million passengers

    Air Serbia handled 439.051 passengers last month, marking its busiest June since launching operations under its new brand name in 2013. The figure represents an increase of 4% on the same month last year, accompanied by a 3% increase in the number of operated flights, which totalled 4.466. The airline’s busiest routes in June were Zurich, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt in Western Europe, as well as Podgorica and Tivat in the region. Its busiest destinations in the broader Euro Mediterranean zone were Larnaca, Istanbul, and Athens. Flights to New York also saw strong demand during the month.

    Over the first half of the year, Air Serbia handled close to two million passengers. Commenting on the result, the carrier’s General Manager for Commercial and Strategy, Boško Rupić, said, “Air Serbia has been operating under its current name and brand since 2013. Since then, we achieved numerous successes, and, more importantly, we constantly push our boundaries, achieving even better results. In line with that, this June was our most successful in the past eleven years based on the number of handled passengers and operated flights. Since the start of 2024, we carried over 1.8 million passengers on scheduled, seasonal, and charter services to over ninety destinations. We are in the midst of the summer season, and we are seeing high load factors on a daily basis, so even better results are expected in the coming months”.

    The Serbian airline anticipates breaking JAT Yugoslav Airlines’ annual passenger record set in 1987, when it handled 4.531.000 travellers, either this year or in 2025. During the first half of the year, the market with the most capacity in Air Serbia's network was Germany. It was followed by Montenegro, Russia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, France, Switzerland and the United States. The biggest year-on-year increase in available capacity was recorded on flights to Madrid, Thessaloniki, Varna, and Palma de Mallorca. Air Serbia is expected to have a dynamic remainder of the year. It is due to put into service two Embraer E195 aircraft, as well as two Airbus A330-200 jets. Furthermore, it has scheduled the launch of its fourth long-haul service, to Guangzhou, for September 30.


  • TRIP REPORT: Volotea, Athens - Split
    TRIP REPORT


    Volotea

    Flight: V7 4780
    Date: 09.06.24
    Aircraft: Airbus A320 registration: EC-KMI (first flight 2008)
    ETD: 12:45
    ETA: 13:05

    (Flight duration 1h20minutes)

    At the start of June I went to visit friends in Athens and in Split. I arrived in Athens from Milan Malpensa using SkyExpress, which seemed to have very friendly cabin crew - although I found the legroom was exceedingly cramped.

    After four lovely (and swelteringly hot) days in Athens it was time to head up to Split, and with the option of using a new airline. Living in the UK, we don’t have many options to fly Volotea considering they offer flights only between London Gatwick and Strasbourg and Brest in France.


    On the day of departure I shared a taxi with three friends who were returning to London with Wizz Air. One of them had been forced to buy a new ticket as their flight to Gatwick the night before had been initially delayed 7 hours, before being moved to the next day. Considering their issues I was happy to see that my flight looked to be on time.


    Arriving around 10:30, it appeared as if Athens Airport was heaving. As I was departing from the Schengen gates, I said goodbye to my friends heading to London. Whilst the line for security initially appeared busy, its moved extremely fast and efficient. Within 5 minutes I had passed security and into the brightly lit duty-free area.

    Athens Airport is fairly busy at the best of times and today was no exception. That being said there are a lot of places to buy food, and good food at that! Personally I find the selection of places to eat in Athens Airport (at least the Intra-Schengen gates) among the best of any in Europe.


    The airport also offers a service whereby one can order burgers online and have it delivered to ones seat around the terminal. I saw people ordering on this service, but didn’t witness if their food actually arrived. I can only imagine what a disaster a service such as this would be at some European airports, but seem like a it’s a nice addition here. In general the airport appeared very clean, neat bathrooms and well-kept spaces with sufficient seating. Importantly the air-conditioning seemed to be efficient and the airport was at a pleasant temperature, something airports often struggle with.

    Volotea over a huge network out of Split and Dubrovnik. Volotea seem to specialise in linking ‘secondary’ cities in Europe often using W-patterns. Today’s flight was operated from a Toulouse based aircraft that had previously flown to Split and then down to Athens. The aircraft would return to Toulouse after operating the flight to Split. Flights to Dubrovnik seem to be performed by aircraft based in Bari, which make the 30 minute hop over the Adriatic before heading down to Athens and back again. This is an efficient utilisation of aircraft - especially on niche routes, but something airlines such as Ryanair tend to avoid.


    The inbound flight from Split landed significantly head of time. Having found a quiet corner to sit down in, I had some fairly nice views of the 16-year-old Volotea A320 landing on the Runway 03R. I find the Volotea livery very nice and reminiscent of a tablecloth.


    Gate B19 was announced an hour before take-off and I began to make my way there. B19 is from the ground floor of the airport. Athens has a huge number of remote stands and today was no exception. I arrived at the gate which initially didn’t seem busy. There was some confusion as to where those with priority boarding should stand with the ground staff being decidedly unclear as to where people should be.


    I was among the first people to board the bus that would take us to the aircraft – which on reflection – was a mistake. The bus got ever more crowded and considering it was in the mid 30s it became horribly hot. Once the bus was relatively full the driver closed the doors and headed off (very slowly) to the remote stands. The air conditioning was left off the whole time which was extremely unpleasant and can really make a claustrophobic start to a trip.


    The A320 was waiting on one of the remote stands and boarding by stairs began. The passengers seemed to be an interesting mix of nationalities. Personally I find routes such as this extremely useful, and I think quite a few of the passengers were combining Greece and Croatia as part of backpacking journeys, or trips around the Mediterranean. A significant number of the passengers were Croatian, and I noticed several families with children who had clearly been on holiday in Greece. The two passengers seated next to me were American and there were a large number of people from the Indian subcontinent. I would estimate the cabin load was almost 100%. I didn’t get up considering it was a short flight but in total three bus loads of passengers were brought from the terminal.


    The crew were French and seemed very polite and friendly. Instructions were made in English only. The seat and cabin were clean and fresh. Luckily the aircraft was at a nice temperature considering the sweaty bus transfer. I had prepaid for a seat at the back of the aircraft on the right-hand side. I did this knowing that views of the Dalmatia coast are best from the right-hand side upon approach into Split.

    At 12:45 the engines were started and push-back exactly on time. From the window I could see the leased 757 landing that Wizzair had sent in place of their normal A321s. This 757 would take my friends back to London (roughly on time).

    Taking off from runway 03R (the southern of the two), the aircraft climbed rapidly over the Petalioi gulf. After a few minutes the the aircraft banked slightly to the west offering stunning views of the unspoilt Schinias Beach and national park. The route flown was directly north and west over central Greece over the city of Lamia. Clouds began to obscure the view, however I was able to make out the beautiful town of Metsovo in the Pindus mountains. Crossing into Albania, the clouds began to part which offered nice views of the port of Durrës.


    The buy on board service started after 30minutes or so. I bought a small bottle of water which cost 3.95euros. This was relatively expensive I thought for such a small bottle of water. There was nothing else on the “Picnic on board” list that particularly appealed to me. The crew were extremely friendly, considering it was their third leg of the day. The overall impression was very good.


    After about 50 minutes, Dubrovnik came into view. I always find the airport looks a bit like an aircraft carrier carved into the mountainside, this is especially the case through hazy clouds. A few minutes later the sound of the engines spooling down meant the start of decent into Split. The town of Jelsa came into view as the A320 descended through light cloud. The best views were saved for Hvar town, with the Paklinski Otoci sparkling brightly in the inky blue sea below.


    The approach into Split today was performed from the south west meaning a slight right hand turn before lining up with the runway. Views of Čiovo and Trogir make the landing especially scenic in Split. The ground only becomes visible to passengers in the final few seconds before landing, adding to the drama of one of the former Yugoslavia’s nicest airport approaches.


    As the aircraft taxied from the runway, the Trade Air A320 being operated by Croatia Airlines during the summer season was parked at a remote stand. Other than that the airport was empty of commercial aircraft.


    Disembarkation was quick, as Split doesn’t have airbridges this is always done via by air-stairs, and passengers were guided into the terminal via the glass corridor that facilitates the separation of Non-Schengen flights, which are now the overwhelming majority at Split.


    Not having a checked in bag meant I was out of the airport within two minutes and making my way past the iconic (at least for me) canopy outside the airport that resembles palm trees.


    All in all, the experience on Volotea was extremely good. Pleasant staff and a clean fresh cabin were the highlight. I paid just under 100euros for the flight (including paying for a trolley case and reserved seat), which given the time of year and the convenience of a flight left me very satisfied. Based on that flight would say they greatly outperform the legacy airlines in the region in terms of smiles and general vibe. More routes around the region would be very welcome indeed.


    Share your travel experience by submitting a trip report to exyu@exyuaviation.com


  • Dubrovnik Airport secures new winter flights


    Dubrovnik Rudjer Bošković Airport is working on reducing its seasonality by negotiating with airlines to extend their seasonal summer operations into the winter. Ryanair, which opened a seasonal base in the coastal city this summer, will continue to run flights from Vienna, Charleroi, and London Stansted twice per week throughout the winter season, which begins on October 27 and runs until March 30 of next year.

    LOT Polish Airlines has now confirmed it too will extend its seasonal summer flights between Warsaw and Dubrovnik for part of the upcoming winter season. The carrier will maintain operations on the route twice per week throughout November and December, with its last service scheduled for December 31. Flights will then be suspended until March 1, when they are due to resume twice per week. As previously reported back in January, LOT has also extended its flights between Warsaw and Sarajevo until the end of November.

    Low cost carrier easyJet will also slightly extend operations on some of its Dubrovnik routes. Services from both London Gatwick and Manchester will operate until the end of November with two weekly rotations scheduled on each during the month. Flights will then resume on March 1 of next year. Similarly, Iberia will maintain services from Madrid until November 28, returning to the coastal city from March 2. Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus plans to restore its seasonal flights from Dublin earlier than in previous years, starting in the final weeks of the 2024/25 winter season. Operations will resume on March 16.

    Dubrovnik Airport is continuing to perform strongly this year. In June alone it welcomed a record 431.771 passengers, representing an increase of 25.3% on last year and an improvement of 3.8% on its previous record in 2019. During the first half of 2024, it handled 1.093.059 travellers, up 25.6% on last year and 3.1% on 2019. Much of the growth so far this year has been attributed to Ryanair with the airport estimating it will welcome a record 3.2 million passengers this year.