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Air Serbia looks to 2014

The launch of Air Serbia has undoubtedly been the biggest event in the aviation industry in the former Yugoslavia in 2013. This time last year few could predict Etihad Airways would purchase a 49% stake in the debt ridden Serbian national carrier and relaunch it under a new brand. The airline’s CEO, Dane Kondić, says Air Serbia has achieved a lot since launching operations two months ago, on October 26. “In a short time we showed the world that Air Serbia is a dynamic and ambitious airline with a bright future. We have presented to the world the new identity of our brand, completely redesigned our offer and services, strengthened our sales and modernised the fleet”, Mr Kondić says. He adds, “We have also begun rebuilding our network, with our guests able to enjoy the benefits of a number of new destinations with favourable arrival and departure times”.

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Etihad gears up for Air Serbia takeover

Etihad Ariways will take over its 49% stake in Air Serbia on Wednesday, including full ownership over Air Serbia Ground Services and Jat Catering. As a result, Etihad will turn the forty million dollars it has invested into Air Serbia since August into equity. A further 200 million dollars will be invested from January 1, 2014. Etihad has snapped up stakes in seven airlines from Australia to Ireland over the past two years. It is currently assessing whether to invest in Italy’s troubled Alitalia. Etihad’s goal is to quickly boost traffic and cut costs on its own network without buying hundreds of planes and expanding globally, company officials say. The airline’s CEO, James Hogan, admits its investment into Air Serbia was initiated by the Abu Dhabi government but denies the airline was forced into making the purchase, branding it instead as a commercial strategy. “If an opportunity like Seychelles or Serbia appears, and we’re asked to look at it, we look at it. Unless it makes sense commercially, we don’t step into it”, Mr. Hogan says.

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Aerodrom u Sofiji može da se koristi i po najvećoj magli

Sofijski aerodrom je nedavno zvanično počeo da koristi opremu za instrumentalno sletanje po najvećoj magli kada je vidljivost gotovo
jednaka nuli.

Oprema za kategoriju instrumentalnog sletanja aviona IIIb je instalirana i počela je da se koristi od 14. novembra u ponoć. Minimalna horizontalna vidljivost za ovu kategoriju je 75 metara.

Sa novom kategorijom sofijski aerodrom će ove zime otkazati mnogo manje letova nego ranije. On je ranije dosta imao problema zbog guste i dugotrajne magle u zimskim mesecima.

Aerodromi sa ovako visokom kategorijom su veoma retki, a beogradski “Nikola Tesla” je jedan od njih. Na njemu je počela da se primenjuje ova kategorija od 4. januara 2009. godine i tada se on našao u grupi od samo nekoliko evropskih aerodroma sa sličnom opremom. Read the full story

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Air Serbia launch plans

Air Serbia has brought forward its launch date by one day and will now inaugurate operations on October 26. The airline is planning a major event in Belgrade that Saturday with the Air Serbia Airbus A319 to operate its maiden flight to Abu Dhabi. State officials as well as the Etihad Airways managing team will take part in the launch. Tickets have been put on sale to the general public for Air Serbia’s inaugural flight. Flight JU800 will leave Belgrade just after 17.00 CEST and will arrive in Abu Dhabi at 00.25. The Serbian carrier will use Etihad Airways’ dedicated terminal three at Abu Dhabi Airport.
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In the week leading up to Air Serbia’s launch, the aircraft featuring the Air Serbia livery, its interior as well as crew uniforms will be revealed to the public. The newly refurbished sales offices, featuring the Air Serbia branding, will also be opened in Belgrade and throughout Serbia during that week. The airline’s hub, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, is also preparing for Air Serbia’s launch. Airport CEO Velimir Radosavljević says, “The airport is simultaneously carrying out several major investments in order to increase capacity and improve its services but also to fulfil the higher standards requested by Air Serbia”. He adds, Air Serbia will be the busiest carrier operating up to three major departure waves per day from the airport.

Meanwhile, the Serbian carrier has revealed the full list of destinations that will be served by its new Airbus A320s next summer. In addition to the already announced Skopje and Podgorica, the A320s will be utilised on flights to Larnaca, Amsterdam, Moscow and Paris. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, the airline will keep several Boeing 737-300 aircraft in its fleet over the summer, which are to be used exclusively for charter flgihts in a high density all economy class layout. Charter flights are one of Jat Airways’ most profitable sectors and Air Serbia plans on maintaining them. Furthermore, EX-YU Aviation News learns the airline will add another new destination next summer, its eighth, in addition to the previously announced Beirut, Budapest, Cairo, Kiev, Sofia, Varna and Warsaw.

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Belgrade Airport anticipates record winter

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is preparing for what is likely to be one of its busiest winter seasons on record. Many airlines serving Serbia’s busiest airport have announced frequency increases this winter while the launch of Air Serbia will see a major boost in flight operations over the coming months. This Thursday, the national carrier of Belarus, Belavia, will launch flights from Minsk to Belgrade via Budapest. The equipment for the two weekly service has been upgraded from the initial Bombardier CRJ200 to the Embraer E175. The carrier has received fifth freedom rights between Budapest and Belgrade.
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This winter, Turkish Airlines plans to introduce a third daily flight to the Serbian capital on selected days, boosting frequencies to seventeen flights per week. Alitalia will also boost operation with a total of ten weekly flights planned for the winter while Russia’s Aeroflot will maintain its summer schedule and operate two daily flights between Moscow and Belgrade. Qatar Airways will add another weekly flight via Ankara, totalling four services per week. In addition, in mid December, Swiss International Airlines will inaugurate flights from Geneva to Belgrade. LOT Polish Airlines has decided to turn its seasonal summer service to the Serbian capital into yearlong flights and will continue its operations from Warsaw to Belgrade this winter. Unlike last winter, Belgrade will also be served by this year’s new arrivals – Etihad Airways, Pegasus Airlines and easyJet while Wizz Air will be operating several new routes it launched over the summer. By June 2014, Air Serbia plans to offer 73.000 seats and 670 weekly departures from Belgrade, starting its expansion this winter by launching new services and significantly boosting its frequencies on existing destinations.

In the first eight months of the year Belgrade Airport has handled 2.380.911 passengers, an increase of 3.4% compared to the same period last year. In August alone the airport welcomed 441.088 passengers, up 7.2%, and marked August 2 as its busiest day in history. During the month, Jat maintained a 44% share of all passengers using the airport, followed by Wizz Air at 12.9% and Montenegro Airlines at 7%. Compared to last August, Tunis Air saw the greatest passenger increase rate on its flights from Tunis and Enfidha to Belgrade.

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Air Serbia begins ticket sales

Air Serbia has begun selling tickets for its 2013/14 winter season after loading most of its scheduling changes in global distribution systems. The airline, which will inaugurate flights to Abu Dhabi, Banja Luka, Bucharest, Ljubljana and Prague this winter, has begun advertising the new services in the country’s three leading newspapers. In addition, radio, public billboard and Internet advertisements are soon to follow. However, the schedule is still being tweaked and old Jat Airways flights removed. Compared to its preliminary schedule published by EX-YU Aviation News two weeks ago, Air Serbia will move its Istanbul operations from Ataturk to Sabiha Gokcen Airport on a temporary basis. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, the last minute change occurred after the Serbian carrier was unable to secure new slot times at Istanbul’s main airport Attaturk. Other services will see a significant boost in frequencies compared to last winter season.
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Air Serbia has launched a promotional ticket sale, offering flights to its new destinations at discounted prices until March 2014. Tickets at these prices can be purchased until the end of September. Furthermore, the airline’s website is also to be launched in the coming period at airserbia.com and air-serbia.com. All passengers who have purchased tickets on former Jat Airways flights this winter will be reissued with new ones in the next few days. Tickets can also be purchased for the summer of 2014 with further frequency increases taking place such as the introduction of a second daily flight to Sarajevo and daily flights to Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, a second Air Serbia A319 has received the new corporate livery and interior at Phoenix Goodyear Airport. The carrier’s CEO, Dane Kondić, says a total of six Airbus A319s will join Air Serbia by the end of the year with a further two joining by the start of the 2014 summer season. The airline will further expand its fleet in 2016 and is considering purchasing A320Nneos, B737 MAX and Bombardier CS300 series aircraft. Mr. Kondić confirmed earlier reports by EX-YU Aviation News that the carrier’s Airbus fleet will have the capacity to seat 128 passengers – eight in “luxurious” business class and 120 in economy.

In his first address to Jat Airways/Air Serbia employees as CEO, Mr. Kondić said among other things, “Today is the start of a rewarding yet challenging journey for Air Serbia. It will be rewarding because we will succeed in building the leading airline in the region. I have no doubt that we will impress everyone, including ourselves, when we stand back in twelve months to look at what we have created. More importantly, we will have worked as a team. We will have used all our skills and expertise to find solutions for all the challenges along the way. We are building a performance-based culture where people are accountable for their responsibilities and recognised for their achievements. It is challenging because we need to think and work differently in order to get different and better results for the organisation. And it is challenging because we will need to deal with, and exceed, very high expectations of our guests, and the community”. Air Serbia launches official operations on October 27.

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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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Wizz Air to discontinue Belgrade – Oslo service

The low cost airline Wizz Air will discontinue services from Belgrade to Oslo’s secondary airport Sandefjord in Torp, only five months after the route was originally launched on May 31. In a comment to the “Aviokarta” portal, Wizz Air said, “The service to Oslo will not be discontinued but will be suspended during the winter”. As a result, the two weekly flights to the Norwegian capital have been turned into a seasonal summer service. Wizz Air competed against Norwegian Air Shuttle on the route, which operates flights to Belgrade from Norway’s main airport – Oslo Gardermoen. Wizz Air will suspend its Oslo – Belgrade service at the end of the 2013 summer season, in late October.
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Wizz Air boosted its services from Belgrade this year, basing a second aircraft in the city. As a result, the airline has seen passenger numbers surge from the city over 50% so far this year. In August alone, the no frills airline handled over 56.000 passengers to and from the Serbian capital with the recently launched service to Paris Beauvais being its busiest.

The only destination Wizz Air had previously discontinued from Belgrade was Rome. The flights to the Italian capital were, similarly to the Oslo service, turned into seasonal flights before they were completely discontinued. Wizz Air sighted high seasonality on the route for its failure.

Wizz Air intends to expand in the coming months throughout the former Yugoslavia with the introduction of a second aircraft in Skopje and the launch of new flights to Charleroi, Beauvais and Frankfurt Hahn next spring. Furthermore, the low cost airline will maintain its newly launched flights to Tuzla in Bosnia over the winter and intends to expand its operation in the country to Sarajevo. Recently, the mayor of Ohrid, in Macedonia, announced the town is prepared to subsidise Wizz Air flights from St. Paul the Apostle Airport to several destinations in Western Europe next summer.

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Jat’s numbers grow in August

Jat Airways has recorded solid passenger growth this August by handling 192.303 passengers, an increase of 4% compared to the same month last year. The carrier’s average cabin load factor stood at 73%, down six points. The airline recorded a passenger boost on all of its main markets. Flights to and from Montenegro saw numbers improve 18%, Euro Mediterranean flights performed better by 1% while charter flights saw a passenger increase of 5%. Overall, Jat saw a 4% increase on scheduled flights across its network.
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Trends in August show that flights to and from Croatia recorded the most significant passenger growth compared to last year. Numbers were up by 94% to Split, 58% to Pula and 50% to Dubrovnik. The good results come on top of record air travel between the two countries, as reported recently by EX-YU Aviation News. Also seeing a major increase in passengers numbers in August were flights to Ohrid, Paris, Brussels and Athens. The best average cabin load factor in August was recorded on flights from Belgrade to Amsterdam at 98% and Malta to Belgrade and the Monastir to Belgrade service with the load factor throughout the month standing at 98% as well.

So far this year, Jat Airways has handled 933.471 passengers. Recent growth has eased poorer results recorded earlier in the year, though overall numbers are still down 1% on 2012. The average cabin load factor throughout the past eight months has stood at 70%. Jat is expected to handle its millionth passenger for the year this weekend, a few days ahead of 2012.

Month PAX Change (%) Average load factor (%)
JAN 77.962 4 63
FEB 61.341 ▼ 2 59
MAR 82.395 ▼ 1 70
APR 90.844 ▼ 16 67
MAY 109.752 ▼ 3 73
JUN 134.678 ▼ 0.3 70
JUL 184.466 ▲ 2 75
AUG 192.303 ▲ 4 73

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Air Serbia – winter 2013/14

Air Serbia is  today expected put on sale flights for its 2013/14 winter season, launching October 27, and the 2014 summer season, which begins on March 30 next year. The airline’s schedule and pricing should come into effect next week. Within the next few days tickets should be offered for sale via the airline’s website and the public Amadeus website. By launching its winter and summer season with promotional low fares, the airline hopes to attract new customers and put pressure on the competition.

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As is outlined in the table below, Air Serbia will launch new destinations with flights to Abu Dhabi, Banja Luka, Prague and Bucharest this winter. From March 30, 2014, the Serbian carrier will inaugurate services to Beirut, Cairo, Kiev, Sofia, Varna, Budapest and Warsaw. Highlights in the 2013/14 winter schedule include double daily flights to Athens, Moscow, Paris, Podgorica, Vienna and Zurich. The airline is also considerably boosting frequencies on other destinations including Brussels, Tel Aviv, Stuttgart, Thessaloniki, Tivat, Stockholm and Copenhagen. In the table below, equipment changes have also been highlighted. Flights to Sarajevo, Skopje and Podgorica will all be upgraded from turboprop aircraft to the Airbus A319. As a result, one of the three daily flights to Podgorica (which operated  last season) will be discontinued.

Air Serbia has also changed flight numbers on all of its destinations with exception to London Heathrow. Furthermore, the airline has changed slots at most airports with exception to its traditional landing and departure times at London and Moscow. Airlines that will be particularly hit by the added competition include Olympic Air which will face a tough ask trying to shrug off the 21 weekly flights which will be offered between Belgrade and Greece by Air Serbia with jet engine aircraft this winter. Austrian will also see tough competition on its Varna service next summer. Thanks to a monopoly on the market, Austrian’s sky high prices from Varna will be in trouble especially since Air Serbia has timed its flights from the seaside town so as to connect on to its western European services from Belgrade. Furthermore, TAROM and Adria Airways will lose the monopoly on their respective services to the Serbian capital. Larger aircraft and the general hype surrounding the newly branded Serbian carrier will also force Montenegro Airlines to rethink its strategy to its busiest market. Read the full story

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