Monday, April 27, 2009

Charter wars

Atlasjet Belgrade service under question
With the Serbian national carrier, Jat Airways, on one side and 3 Turkish and 1 Egyptian carrier on the other a war has developed in order to gain licenses to perform charter services to and from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. Some Serbian travel agencies have made agreements with foreign carriers to commence services to Belgrade this summer however the Serbian National Association of Tourist Agencies (YUTA) and Jat Airways are strongly against the move. However, the Turkish and Egyptian authorities are equally as frustrated and some of Jat’s charter services (the rare sector in which Jat performs extremely well passenger wise) is under question.

YUTA believes that letting foreign charter carriers commence services to Serbia could be a move which will directly harm the national interests of the country and the national carrier. Although Jat does not decide which carrier is allowed to fly to Serbia it has joined YUTA in its pursuit to get rid of these airlines. In order for other carriers to fly to Serbia they need to be issued a license by the Serbian Civil Aviation Authority. The authority informs Jat of which airline would like to commence services to Serbia and Jat gives their opinion if these should go ahead or not. However, Jat’s decision is not binding and is simply in place to see what the national carrier thinks. The trouble is that the Turkish and Egyptian authorities are now angry at Serbia and will take away Jat’s charter license if their carriers are not allowed to commence services to Belgrade and Niš.

Nevertheless it seems that the issue has been resolved for now, at least when Jat is in question, as the airline’s charter flights to Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheik and Antalya all departed on Sunday and arrived in Belgrade today.

The airlines which are interested to commence charter services to Serbia is the Egyptian Lotus Air which would fly to Belgrade from Marsa Alam from June 15 to October 29 and the Turkish charter companies Pegasus Airlines, Atlasjet and Sky Airlines which would connect Antalya to Belgrade via Niš.Jat’s charter services have been a big success since Montenegro Airlines ended charter operations from Belgrade in the summer of 2006. With practically a 100% share of the charter flights it would be difficult for Jat to lose it now, particularly when its struggling in the scheduled flights sector. The only charter carrier which has been issued with a license so far is the Tunisian Nouvelair from Monastir to Belgrade.

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