The President and CEO of the Etihad Aviation Group, James Hogan, has said that Air Serbia's service between Belgrade and New York's JFK Airport, launched nine months ago, is a "long-term investment", which will take several years to achieve its full potential. Speaking to the "Blic" daily, Mr Hogan said, "The introduction of flights to New York is a long-term investment for Air Serbia. Such routes usually take three to five years to achieve optimal results. What you get from the service to New York is an important air bridge between the United States, Belgrade and other destinations. If you take into account the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and if you take low cost carriers out of the picture, because we are not one of them, Air Serbia is, in my opinion, one of the leading smaller brands. That is not a bad result for just three and a half years".
Commenting on future expansion, Mr Hogan said, "It's not all about expansion. It is important for a company to be of the right size and form. In the past, many companies expanded too quickly and then collapsed. It is important that we strengthen what we have and make it more functional in the right way. Air Serbia has a good image, good people and good operational results. There is room for improvement in a commercial sense but it is important for Air Serbia to continue developing. It is very important to sell Belgrade as a tourist destination". Last January Mr Hogan said the Serbian carrier could expand its footprint in North America in two to three years. "We have already considered flights to Chicago and Toronto and these services could be introduced in two to three years. First off, the New York route must become functional. We don't want to make a decision that would set Air Serbia back", Mr Hogan said at the time.
Passenger numbers on Air Serbia's New York route have been 40% above the business plan within the first half year of operations, although yields haven't performed as hoped for, due to less Americans travelling on the route to Europe for fear of terror attacks, according to the airline. As a result, the carrier has reduced frequencies to New York from five weekly flights to three weekly outside of the peak summer travel season. Furthermore, the airline has said it will not take on additional long haul aircraft for the time being. Serbia's Prime Minister has previously noted that the airline's New York route would become profitable within three years of operations.