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Jat gets new CEO Dane Kondić

The Jat Airways Joint Stock Assembly yesterday approved the endorsement of the Serbian government to name Dane Kondić as the new CEO and President of the airline, relieving acting CEO Velibor Vukašinović of his duties. Mr. Kondić, who will head Jat through its transitional period over the next month and a half before taking on the role of CEO of Air Serbia, has outlined the airline’s goals over the next few years, with the short term objectives being new aircraft and new routes as well as joint training, procurement, sales and marketing with Etihad Airways. Mr. Kondić (48), was born in Sydney to Serbian parents. He graduated economics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and started his career with Qantas before becoming the General Manager of Worldwide Sales for Malaysia Airlines. He subsequently moved to take on the challenge of managing a tour operator, and was heading the North Asia region for a major wholesaler, based in Hong Kong before taking up a position at Etihad Airways. Mr. Kondić becomes the first non political appointment to head the airline since the Jat brand was launched 66 years ago.

Dane Kondić air serbia

Velibor Vukašinović who served as Jat Airways’ acting CEO since May 8, 2013 can be credited for managing to return most of Jat’s fleet to the sky. Mr. Vukašinović took over the airline when only seven aircraft were in operation. By leasing a further four aircraft the airline is now operating a fleet of fifteen. During that time the carrier has seen its passenger numbers improve and losses reduce. In his farewell address yesterday to all of Jat’s employees Mr. Vukašinović said amongst other thing, “I would like to thank you all for your cooperation and the results we have achieved in very harsh conditions. It has been an honour and pleasure to lead such a group of professionals, excellent workers and even better people who have managed to save the Serbian national carrier despite all the wars, sanctions, bombing, poverty and bad political influences which have all deeply reflected on the airline. You should be proud that nothing could break your spirits and that every time the airline rose like the phoenix from the ashes”. Mr. Vukašinović wished Jat all the best in its next chapter.

As the official launch date of the rebranded Serbian national carrier approaches on October 27, the airline is preparing to put up for sale its first tickets according to its revised timetable. Yesterday the airline ran test by temporarily adding revised flight times, fares and equipment to global distribution systems such as Monastir for the summer of 2014 Today, Air Serbia is organising yet another round of crew casting and is also hiring in flight chefs as part of its new in flight dining concept.

Air Serbia has begun adding its winter 2013/14 flight schedule to global reservation systems and are now available for view. The flights will be added throughout the day today and tomorrow. Also added are new flights to Ljubljana, Bucharest, Banja Luka and Prague.

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Belgrade Airport plummets in April

Belgrade Airport plummets in April

As May comes to a close, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has recorded a passenger plunge in April. Last month, Serbia’s busiest airport welcomed 251.873 passengers, down 5.7% compared to April 2012. As a result, the airport has recorded its largest drop in monthly passenger figures so far this year. Fuelling the passenger plunge was Jat Airways which saw its numbers decrease by 16% in April due to flight reductions across its network. Foreign carriers operating to the Serbian capital managed to see their numbers improve compared to last April. An additional factor was the Orthodox Easter holiday, which was observed in mid April last year while it was marked in May this year.

So far this year, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport handled 855.597 passengers, a decrease of 1.8% compared to the same period last year. The airport is maintaining its position as the busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia, some 227.000 passengers ahead of second placed Zagreb Airport. Despite Jat’s woes, preliminary figures indicate the airport is on course to handle a record number of passengers in May. Working in the airport’s favour were the combined May Day and Easter public holidays as well as charter airlines launching their summer flights to the city during the month.

Meanwhile, construction work at the airport is continuing as part of the multimillion euro upgrades taking place. The expansion of the airport’s C apron, which will see an additional four parking spaces for commercial aircraft, is nearing completion and should be in operation by midsummer. The C apron, used by terminal two, features six air bridges. The added parking spaces will be used by smaller regional jets and will increase capacity by 17%. The investment is worth 2.6 million euros. In addition, on June 3 the foundations for new glass air bridges, to be used by terminal one, will be laid while in two weeks time the airport will end its long running procedure of double security checks.

Posted in Aerodrom Beograd, English Info0 Comments

Wizz Air kicks off EX-YU expansion

The low cost airline Wizz Air will today begin its expansion within the former Yugoslavia by launching flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Services from Malmo to Tuzla will be inaugurated this evening. Originally, flights were to begin this Friday, however, strong booking numbers and demand led the airline to bring the service forward by several days. The no frills carrier is set to bring new life into Tuzla Airport, which handled only one passenger in the first four months of the year. In addition, the airline will launch flights from Basel and Gothenburg to Tuzla in June. It estimates it will carry some 30.000 passengers in its first year of operations to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This Friday, Wizz Air will also begin its expansion from Belgrade as it bases a second aircraft in the Serbian capital. The airline will launch flights to Oslo Torp on May 31. On Saturday services to Paris Beauvais will be inaugurated, while seasonal flights to the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu begin next month. Compared to the summer of 2012, Wizz Air will boost its flight offer from Belgrade by 58%, with 41 weekly departures from the city.

Finally, the low cost airline will stretch its wings from Skopje as well. On Friday the airline will launch flights from the Macedonian capital to Gothenburg. Earlier this month Wizz Air inaugurated flights from Skopje to Stockholm. Compared to last summer, Wizz Air has increased its operations in the Macedonian capital by 350%, offering 27 weekly departures.

Within the former Yugoslavia Wizz Air is not present only in Montenegro and Pristina. The airline has hinted it is considering expanding its flight offer from Ljubljana, where it currently operates flights to London and Charleroi. Furthermore, it is still keen on establishing services to both Sarajevo and Banja Luka.

Posted in Aerodrom Beograd, English Info, Wizz Air0 Comments

Belgrade Airport returns to growth

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport recorded passenger growth in March for the first time this year despite a significant fall in the number of operated flights. Serbia’s busiest airport handled 220.278 passengers, an increase of 2% compared to last year’s 216.025. On the other hand, the number of arriving and departing flights to and from Belgrade plunged by 10% from 3.457 last year, to 3.110 in 2013. In the first quarter, Belgrade welcomed 603.724 passengers, just down on last year’s 604.210, or a 0.1% decrease. Passenger numbers at Belgrade have been hit by Jat’s major network reductions as it struggles with a fleet shortage.

With busier months approaching, the airport hopes that numbers will pick up. Wizz Air has announced it will not be resuming its seasonal service from Belgrade to Rome this summer. The service was converted into a seasonal only flight at the end of last summer. However, the low cost airline has decided to completely discontinue the service. Both Alitalia and Jat Airways continue to operate the Rome route. Nevertheless, Wizz will launch flights from Belgrade to Beauvais, Oslo Torp, Corfu and Rhodes in the coming months. Furthermore, summer charters are set to begin soon with Sky Airlines and Pegasus operating services from Antalya, Nesma Airlines, Air Cairo and Midwest Airlines from Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh, Tunis Air from Enfidha as well as numerous charters to be operated by Jat. During the summer Etihad Airways will also launch flights to the Serbian capital.

Meanwhile, Niš Constantine the Great Airport handled 1.113 passengers in March, a 34% plunge compared to the same month last year. Recently, Montenegro Airlines agreed to continue flying to the city five times per week from Podgorica after settling a dispute over subsidies with local authorities. At the end of this month Mistral Air will launch flights from Trieste to Niš in a European Union funded project. During the summer, Sky Airlines will launch regular charters from Antalya to the city. In the first quarter Niš Airport welcomed 3.753 passengers, down 23% on last year.

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Posted in Aerodrom Beograd, English Info0 Comments

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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Posted in English Info, Jat Airways0 Comments

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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Jat soars in August

On September 12, Jat Airways handled its millionth passenger of the year, the earliest since 2008. The good result was achieved after strong growth was recorded in August. Last month, the Serbian national carrier welcomed 184.728 passengers, an increase of 19% compared to the same month last year. The average cabin load factor for the month stood at 79%, up one point. Passenger growth was seen across the board, with numbers up by 15% on Euro Mediterranean flights, 11% on scheduled flights and 82% on charter flights. However, figures slumped on flights to and from Montenegro by 5%, although the number of operated flights also decreased 11%.

In the first eight months of the year, the Serbian national carrier welcomed 940.283 passengers, up 13% on last year. The average cabin load factor stood at 75%, an increase of 5%. This is despite a fall of 2% in the number of operated flights. On September 12, the airline welcomed its millionth passengers. Jat has already seen its best May result since 2000 and its best June result since 1991. The airline has seen its revenue increase by 20%.

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Posted in English Info, Jat Airways0 Comments

Serbia rejects Pegasus

The Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate has rejected an application made by the low cost Pegasus Airlines to launch flights from Istanbul to Belgrade next month, citing terms of a bilateral air agreement between the two countries from 1953. Sources close to the issue have told  that both Jat Airways and Turkish Airlines have been strongly lobbying against Pegasus which posed a threat to their duopoly on the route. Pegasus is said to be planning to apply for a license again.

Pegasus Airlines anticipated launching scheduled flights from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Belgrade from October 2. Four weekly flights were planned to be operated with the Boeing 737-800. Pegasus has been running summer charters to Serbia over the past few years. Within the former Yugoslavia it maintains scheduled flights to both Skopje and Priština. During the 2012/2013 winter season, Jat Airways will operate four weekly flights to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport while its rival Turkish Airlines will carry out a total of ten weekly flights.

Serbia and Turkey have had a troubled relationship when it comes to aviation. Over the past few years there have been difficulties over issuing licenses to charter airlines (including this year as well). Two years ago, Turkey threatened it would revoke Jat’s rights to fly to Istanbul if licenses to Turkish charter airlines were not issued by Serbian authorities. In 1992, a Jat Boeing 737-300 (registered YU-ANJ) was grounded in Istanbul by Turkish authorities, under the pretext of international sanctions. After sitting in Istanbul inactive for eight years, the jet was returned to Belgrade on May 9, 2000.

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