Belgrade – Zurich 60 years laterSerbia’s Jat Airways is celebrating 60 years since the start of scheduled services between Belgrade and Zurich. The first flight on the Belgrade – Zagreb – Zurich line was performed by a DC3 aircraft on August 24, 1949. Jat was only the fifth airline to begin services to Zurich Airport whose tarmac was still covered by grass at the time. The Belgrade – Zurich service has over time become one of the airline’s most profitable. Jat operates daily services from Belgrade and 2 weekly services from Niš. The airline has announced that it will add a further 4 weekly flights on this service throughout the New Year and Christmas period during the 2009/10 winter season. Jat’s departure times on this line are specially adjusted to accommodate the Serbian diaspora. According to information from Jat’s Zurich office, due to market developments the offer of flights this year has shrunk by 9% when compared to last year. However, despite this, the airline is recording an increase in the number of passengers on this service by 12%. In 2008, Jat transported a total of 38.224 passengers from Zurich to Serbia, and 23.446 in the first 7 months of this year.
Jat’s 60th anniversary on the Swiss market, something a few airlines can boast about, was recently celebrated at Zurich Airport with Jat representatives, the ambassador of Serbia to Switzerland and travel agency representatives attending boarding procedures for the jubilee flight. Jat faces competition from Swiss International Airlines on this service although the Serbian national carrier can claim a victory over them passenger wise, being the more popular airline on this service. Swiss recently began flights from Basel to Belgrade however the service will be discontinued by mid October.