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Archive | February, 2013

SkyWork cuts down on EX-YU flights

The Swiss based SkyWork Airlines will suspend services from Berne to Belgrade and cut frequencies on its flights to Zagreb. The airline will discontinue its three weekly service from the Swiss capital to Belgrade at the end of the 2012/2013 winter season, with the final flight operating on Saturday, March 30. The airline, which operates services with mixed equipment (a 72 seat Bombardier Dash 8 and the 31 seat Dornier) hasn’t managed to capitalise on the significant passenger movement between Serbia and Switzerland. Expensive tickets and the recent launch of Wizz Air’s service to Basel further impacted on SkyWork’s loads.

On the other hand, SkyWork will also cut down on frequencies to Zagreb. The airline launched two weekly flights between the two cities at the start of the 2012/2013 winter season in November. Effective immediately the service will now operate once per week, every Saturday, until the end of March. However, SkyWork will continue operating into the Croatian capital with three weekly flights planned for the summer with the Dornier turboprop. SkyWork will operate seasonal summer flights to the Croatian coast.

Over this winter season, besides the service to Bern, Belgrade Airport has enjoyed 21 weekly flights to Zurich and two weekly flights to Basel, with Jat Airways, Swiss International Airlines and Wizz Air all competing on flights to Switzerland. Over the summer, Jat plans to operate ten weekly flights to Zurich, while Swiss will run the service twice per day. Wizz Air will increase frequencies to Basel from two to three times per week. On the other hand, Croatia Airlines maintains double daily flights to Zurich.

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easyJet to Belgrade

The low cost airline easyJet intends to launch flights from Milan Malpensa Airport to Belgrade this summer season, pending government approval. According to the “Aviokarta.net” portal, the airline has requested to be issued a license by the Serbian Aviation Directorate with plans to inaugurate four weekly flights from midsummer. easyJet first made contact with Serbian authorities in 2010 when it requested more insight into the market.

easyJet’s arrival will shake up Jat Airways’ existing monopoly on the Belgrade – Milan service. The Italian low cost airline attempted to break Jat’s hold on the route late last year when it launched flights between the two cities. However, the service only lasted a few months before it was suspended several weeks ago. Jat does good business on the route, with Alitalia code sharing on the service.

easyJet is no stranger to the EX-YU region with flights to Ljubljana, Zagreb and Priština as well as seasonal summer flights to the Croatian coast. However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the no frills airline in the region. Last year it suspended flights from Dortmund and Paris to the Croatian capital and also discontinued its Ljubljana – Paris service. It maintains flights from London-Stansted and London-Gatwick to Ljubljana and Zagreb respectively. On the other hand, Priština enjoys easyJet services to Basel and Geneva.

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Jat confirms fleet plans

Jat Airways has confirmed the lease of new aircraft for the 2013 summer season, after Serbian media finally broke their silence on the ongoing fleet crisis in the carrier. With half of its fleet grounded the airline has been forced to suspend services to Brussels until April 1 and has cut down on its frequencies to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna, Berlin and Milan. The airline says it will financially lease four Airbus A319 jets, with two arriving in April and the other two in May. According to fleet plans submitted to the task group in charge of restructuring the carrier, which EX-YU Aviation News exclusively revealed last Monday, it has been proposed for Jat to lease two ATR72-500s and two Airbus A319s for arrival in March, while a further two A320s would be leased in May.

The airline says part of its grounded fleet will soon take to the skies again. The Serbian carrier adds that some of its aircraft are on the ground because the government took its time in approving a ten million euro loan the airline intends to take out from the banks. The government gave Jat the green light to take out the loan in December, several months after it originally blocked the carrier from doing so. Jat says it will now use the money for spare parts for its aircraft. However, some of the grounded jets have been permanently taken out of service as the cost of maintaining them has become too expensive. Furthermore, one of the airline’s leased ATR72s is set to return to its owner.

Meanwhile, Jat Airways pilots have sent letters to the Serbian President, Prime Minister and first Deputy Prime Minister urging them to focus more on the carrier and its problems. In its letters the pilots criticise the Serbian Aviation Directorate and its policy of issuing licenses to other airlines without any legal basis. They note that Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines were issued licenses to launch flights to Serbia contrary to the bilateral air agreement the two countries have signed. The agreement, dating back from 1953, is set to be modified with Turkish officials arriving for talks in Belgrade today. Furthermore, the pilots criticised the decision to allow Wizz Air to base an aircraft in Belgrade without registering a company in Serbia. They say such policies have cost the Serbian carrier millions.

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Frequency boost for Serbia – Croatia flights

Frequency boost for Serbia – Croatia flights

The Serbian national carrier will operate up to thirteen weekly flights to the Croatian coast this summer season, a notable increase compared to last year. During the summer, Jat will resume its seasonal flights to Pula, Dubrovnik and Split. As was the case in 2012, it will face competition on the Belgrade – Split service from Croatia Airlines. Jat will double its frequencies to Pula and Split from two to four times per week. Services to Split will launch on June 7 and will operate every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In addition, flights to Pula resume a day later, on June 8, and will run every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Services to Dubrovnik will be the most frequent with up to five weekly flights starting June 7. They will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The equipment to be used on all the flights is an ATR72.

Croatia Airlines will also resume its Split – Belgrade service, launched last year. The airline will not be increasing its frequencies but has moved the flights forward to May 1. They will operate until the end of the summer season, extending flights from four to six months. The service will go head to head against Jat with flights operating every Monday and Friday with the Bombardier Dash 8.

Scheduled passenger flights between Croatia and Serbia resumed in 2008 for the first time since the breakup of Yugoslavia when Jat Airways launched seasonal flights to Pula. However, the service was not reintroduced the year after due to bureaucratic issues between the two countries. Last year Croatia Airlines launched the Split – Belgrade service, connecting the two cities for the first time since the summer of 1991. Belgrade will be connected to the Croatian coast with up to fifteen weekly flights this summer compared to nine last year.

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