Sunday, June 28, 2009

Universiade hope

Will the 2009 Universiade mascot “Srba” bring Jat much needed passengers?
In 3 days the world’s largest sporting event of the year and the second largest sporting event after the Summer Olympics will begin in Belgrade. The 2009 Summer Universiade Games will bring 10.000 athletes to Belgrade and over 15.000 visitors. The event which Belgrade has been preparing for the last 4 years will be officially open in the evening hours of July 1. Jat Airways is the official carrier of the 25th edition of this sporting event. It hopes that the sharp rise in passengers resulting from Universiade could finally end its continual passenger decline. The rise in passengers is expected to have occurred in the last 2 weeks of June. The second wave of passengers will occur in mid July when Universiade ends which is good news for the airline’s July results. The rise in passenger flow has certainly been felt by other airlines operating to Belgrade with most sending larger aircraft to operate during the week including Russia’s Aeroflot which sent its 4 engined Ilyushin Il-96.

Jat will be the official carrier of Universiade for a second time, after it held the same title in 1987 for the Universiade in Zagreb. Over the years Jat has also been the official carrier of the Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984. Universiade will be the largest sporting event ever to be held in Belgrade and Serbia.

The start to Jat’s pre-Universiade passenger rise has not gone too well. On Thursday the Serbian carrier’s B737-400 had problems with starting up one of its engines and therefore the pilots decided to wait for spare parts to arrive from Belgrade to Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt). The aircraft finally departed 24 hours later on Friday evening. The trouble continued when one of Jat’s B737-300s operating from Tripoli to Belgrade had to land in Malta after a passenger felt very ill. As a result of these two aircraft being extremely late on their arrival into Belgrade, many of Jat’s flights have been delayed and some even cancelled. The schedule is expected to be normalised by Sunday morning.

Jat has also announced that it will bring forward its services to Dubrovnik. The flights which will resume to the Croatian coast town after more than 18 years will be Jat’s second in Croatia after Pula and will begin on July 2, rather than July 6 as previously announced.

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