Serbian airline Air Serbia announced continued expansion in early March, with plans to increase the number of flights not only in Europe but to New York even as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has reached out to Qatar in search of a strategic partner.
With regard to the former the company announced increased flights to New York off the back of a booming February during which the company stated that it carried 200,743 passengers–an increase of 150 percent compared to the same month in 2022 or a more than 30 percent increase over the last pre-pandemic February, this being February 2020.
Maša Vasović, head of revenue management for Air Serbia, noted the increase took place in what is typically a down month for airlines.
“February is a somewhat shorter month and is considered to be the worst month for air transport in this part of the world,” Vasović said. “That did not stop us from carrying more than 200 thousand passengers from Belgrade, Niš and Kraljevo in February for the first time.
“February is the eighth month in a row which broke the record in terms of passengers carried,” the executive added. “We have been recording historic results since July 2022, and judging by February, the growth trend continues. The addition of new destinations in our network will further drive interest in spring. Evidently, a dynamic summer awaits.”
In February 2023, the most popular destinations in West Europe were Zurich, Paris, Athens, Vienna and Berlin.
Yet there is still great interest for Air Serbia’s flights to Istanbul, as well as for the long-haul destinations New York, Tianjin and Chicago, to which the national airline will begin operating flights on 17 May, after more than three decades.
During the upcoming summer season, Air Serbia will increase the number of flights to New York, and from 18 June until the beginning of September, it will fly to this destination seven times a week.
“Air Serbia has been flying to New York for seven years now,” noted George Petkovic, Air Serbia’s Vice President Americas. “During this time, the number of weekly flights changed, but it never exceeded six.
“In the meantime, we have undertaken a series of activities, from strengthening our fleet to expanding our cabin crew team, and thanks to that, we can now proudly announce that we will be operating flights to New York every day, all summer long,” he added.
Yet more may be in store, according to Serbia’s president, who said the company is currently considering a strategic partner in Qatar.
“Air Serbia is now 100% Serbian owned,” Vucic stated, as cited by ekapija.com. “We operate well, we have a pure profit, but we are also looking to avoid potential risks in the future, because what happens does not depend on us alone and that is why I have asked the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to see if they have an interest in becoming a strategic partner of Serbia.”
Vucic implied not only that talks were under way, but also that “analysis” has been submitted, apparently in order to aid such talks.
Interestingly, ekapija.com noted that the statement that Serbia owns 100 percent of Air Serbia was a bit of a news item itself, as the most recent information on share ownership comes from September 2022 during which it was announced that the Republic of Serbia became the owner of 83.58 percent of Air Serbia, and the share in the airline held by Etihad Airways had dropped from 18.03 percent to 16.42 percent.
Possibly, however, Vucic was also referring to ownership by Serbian individuals or smaller companies.
Photo by Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.