Monday, April 18, 2011

Swift Air confident in transatlantic success

Flights could be extended throughout the year
In exactly 2 months, Swift Air will commence charter flights from Chicago to Belgrade and Zagreb, with the airline confident the service will prove a big success. The flights are being chartered by the American tour operator Fly Air Plus. Although the exact launch date of the Zagreb service is expected to be announced soon, as the airline awaits clearance from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency, the service to Belgrade begins on June 17. Ron Hansen from Swift Air says, “We have known for a long time that there is a market for nonstop flights between Chicago, Belgrade and Zagreb. We are also aware that there is no competition on these routes. We have already received all necessary licenses from Belgrade and hope that our first flight will be packed to the last seat”.

Some 50 travel agents are already selling tickets for the Chicago – Belgrade service. The flights, which will operate with a Boeing 767-200ER, will have a flying time of roughly 10 hours. Hansen notes that the aircraft has been refurbished and will operate in all economy class layout with leather seats and in-flight entertainment. The service will be extended all year round if it performs well during the summer.

Hansen also revealed that the airline will hold talks with both Jat Airways and Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. “I will be in Belgrade by the end of April where I will meet up with representatives of Jat Airways and the airport. I will also be one of the passengers on Swift Air’s first service to Belgrade. We are certain in the success of the route”, Hansen told the “Vesti” newspaper.

Visit the blog tomorrow for exclusive news on an airline which will commence flights to an EX-YU city this summer. It will be one of a kind.

50 comments:

  1. I do wonder how the big boys (Lufthands, Swiss, Air France even Lot) react now when there is a direct flight between the two cities.

    What's the point of talking to Jat? Can they do anything until they are in the category 1?

    As for the new route I do hope it's not that XL service as that would be a mjor let down

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  2. Maybe if talks go well with JAT we could probably see a codeshare and more flights p/w??? if that happens then the all Y class seating will need to change for a 2 class config

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  3. Tell us at least witch EX-YU country will receive that route:)

    btw-do you know anything about flight code and numbering on ORD-BEG route, and when will Phoenix be included via Chicago?

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  4. Do we even know what is Swift Air's code?

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  5. Apparently it is Q7, but it uses Air Kiosk for its inventory and is not a GDS participant. That means that travel agents won't be able to book flights through GDS and combine flights to/from BEG/ZAG to other destinations in the region.

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  6. Sorry, Air Plus uses Air Kiosk for its inventory, but I haven't been able to find its code.

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  7. @ First anonymous,
    'I wonder how the big boys react'

    Well, the Croatian CAA has not given approval to these flights yet so maybe they have already reacted, but seriously would they really be worried, especially at this early stage?

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  8. @Q400

    Well maybe not so much in the case of Croatia since they still didn't issue the permit, however I am sure that when it comes to Belgrade they will.

    The bookings on the route have been rather good which means that people have an alternative to the well established carriers. Lufthansa has been filling their morning departure with passengers travelling to North America. With Swift planning to expand their operations in Serbia I bet that the other carriers will rethink their position and their future when it comes to the Serbian market.

    I do hope that the Croats grant them the permit as the average Croat will benefit from this service. Plus, it seemed to me that Zagreb Airport desperately wanted a link to North America, well now they have an opportunity, they should lobby in order not to lose it...

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  9. I'm curious to see these flights as Zagreb and Belgrade are really close to one another and are relatively small cities so flights to both destinations may not last for long.

    Due to Belgrade's numerous connections, most of the ex-Yu diaspora will fly through Belgrade (Montenegrins, Macedonians, Bosnians) and possibly Bulgarians and Romanians.

    I am interested to see what will happen with New York and Toronto as Serbs are demanding in Canada that flights begin and New York is a big market for ex-Yu. I believe Delta was looking into the feasibility of starting such flights.

    As for the blog tomorrow, I'm going to take an outrageous guess and say Qantas is starting flights to Belgrade :)

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  10. Since there are more Serbs than any other ex-Yu nationality in Chicago, and the city has partnerships and cooperation agreements with Belgrade (no other ex-Yu city) I feel that the Belgrade flights will be the most popular and the most helped-out in terms of government assistance and popularity. Someone also mentioned BEG's connections and they are rising every year making it a more attractive destination.

    I am not sure Chicago-Zagreb will last.

    And the big boys will react in Belgrade because it is an expanding market so there needs to be change. As for Croatia, they will just force Croatia Airlines' hand and make them use routes through Europe due to the Star Alliance shit.

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  11. Let us not forget that until now the big boys have been fighting competition when it comes to the European travellers but they have been enjoying the relative lack of competition when it came to the North American market.

    The airline might be unkown and it might suck big time. However what it offers is one stop less than all those other carriers in Europe. A lot of people might want to just board in Belgrade and disembark in the US. The US customs are already horrible enough to make one hate connecting.

    Let's see what happens this summer. No matter what I do hope that both Belgrade and Zagreb manage to keep this service.

    It's a shame that OU is Lufthansa's bitch and can't actually feed this service. I think it would have been much better for them.

    There might be some people who might drive to Belgrade in order to catch this flight however I doubt that Bulgarians would ride to Belgrade when Istanbul is much closer.
    Romanians get a lot of possibilities so I doubt they will do it. Maybe some of the Romanians living in Western Romania might opt for this flight, however let's not forget that the roads to Belgrade from Romania are HORRIBLE!

    As for the Bosnians, maybe... who knows. For most of them the flight in Zagreb might be much closer.

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  12. I guess that LH and star alliance are putting tremendous pressure via their puppet OU on the croatian government not to allow the service. If that happens even better for Belgrade as the future western Balkan hub....

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  13. @ Anonymous from
    April 18, 2011 6:43 PM

    LoL Jeebusman. Even hiding behind the Anomymous name can't help disguise your rethoric. For God's sake it's just a once a week charter flight...It's a good thing but you make it sound as Serbs have discovered a new continet.

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  14. Its definitely not an intercontinental route. I bet!

    BTW-there is an info @BEG wiki page that AirBaltic will commence charter link from St. Petersburg to Belgrade. Is it true?!

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  15. Regarding the "surprise", maybe Iran Air will commence scheduled flights from Tehran...?

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  16. Due to Belgrade's numerous connections, most of the ex-Yu diaspora will fly through Belgrade.

    hahahahahahaha.... Ohrid, Skopje, Tivat, Podgorica and Sarajevo is "numerous connections"? Hahahahahahahaahahaha....

    I believe Delta was looking into the feasibility of starting such flights.

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha... Even better then first bull shit...

    You make my day.

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  17. last anonymous,
    chill .. you piss me off, idk why your laughing when its the truth .. lol...

    Srbijo.. sve najbolje :)

    I am planning on getting Amtrak ticket Cleveland - Chicago with family, 7 hour ride, then have 12 hours in Chicago before charter leaves for Beograd :DDD

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  18. Aleks, that's a long ride on train. Why don't you take Southwest Airlines from Buffalo to Midway? Sometimes you can get a RT ticket for $100. We don't live far away from each other :) I have been to Cleveland several times.

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  19. Sam, i love train rides.. so relaxing , watching scenery and everything, you can go on cell phone or anything, and its cheap...

    why would I take plane from buffalo - midway , buffalo maybe what.. 4 hour drive? then fly to midway... i dont know man.

    :) really, do you like it here? Because I HATE it... the air, the life, people, food... blah

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  20. Are you referring to the Dubai - Dubrovnik flight to be launched by Emirates?

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  21. What?? EK to Dubrovnik? Great news then! :)

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  22. Oh please, that means that Air China, TAM, Qantas, Emirates and many more WILL commence routes to Belgrade from its main and secondary hubs just because of the signed agreements with Serbia.
    I wish that to happen (EK to Dubrovnik) but really, c'mon...

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  23. Aleks, I used to complain at first as well but now I just ignore bad people/things and try to focus on the brighter side. There are bad and good people wherever you go. Europe can go on my nerves for making things complicated with no reason. Ex-Yu is probably a world leader in the amount of bureaucracy someone faces when trying to get something done. I have some friends in CLE. Do you live in Parma as well? :)

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  24. Haha very true. You are right. Well I live in Broadview Heights, I was born in Parma which is 5 minutes from where I live now. :)I just dislike Ohio a lot.

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  25. If you have MSN u can add me at southwest7755@hotmail.com so we can talk there sometimes

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  26. Does anybody know how safe / secure this charter service is ( ON - TIME PERFORMANCE WISE) . Many Serbians here say there is a big chance that the plane may even be delayed a week later or like 10 hours later, and it is horrible having to take a train or rent a car to Chicago. I am stuck where I do not know what to do. I would like to take the charter, but they say there are all these risks. For an extra $300, there is CLE - PHL - FRA - BEG with US Airways and Lufthansa... back is same except BEG - MUC - PHL - CLE .... my travel agency said it is better through that since you go straight from Cleveland and it cannot be delayed for a week....

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  27. @AleksNikolicUSA

    I guess there are no guarantees at all, since of course it is a Charter flight by a shifty little carrier with aircraft that don't even display their corporate branding.

    I was in JFK two days ago and noted that there are quite a few flights to Eastern Europe with DL and AA, I mean they could squeeze in BEG somewhere. If JU were to join Skyteam or Oneworld (Just saying IF ok don't jump your guns) then eithr AA or DL respectivley would be more willing to operate into BEG due to connections.

    One question, I can't seem to find any Boeing 767-200ER on Swift Air's register?

    All I can see is a single Boeing 767-200 (A) non-ER model reg-N767MW. That aircraft (N767MW) is the one featured in the photo of this thread and of the last one. Although the apparent 767-200ER that is listed on their website is N250MY which is still stored in the desert somwhere and features an all white livery, where as the on swift air's website is in a diffrent livery.

    As for the In-flight entertainment, AOD and a simple flight airshow does not count as much on a 10 hour service.

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  28. Some on this forum are missing the intentions of these flights I think. Looks like they are aimed at the Diaspora market and that’s it, this is why both Belgrade and Zagreb have an equal chance at success or failure. Not many, maybe even less than 5% of passengers on these charters will be transiting to other countries, except maybe to say BiH, Montenegro and maybe Slovenia to a lesser extent.

    In the case of Zagreb, say 5000 passengers per year using this charter service out of the 250,000 which fly from Zagreb to North America every year is not something LH will be too worried about especially when the global brand of Star will be a contributing factor to a person’s decision when choosing a carrier.

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  29. I don't know why everyone's getting so excited over this. Talk of 7hr train rides to catch the direct flight? That's nuts. You're probably paying more than going with a normal carrier and not collecting any frequent flyer miles.


    I laughed at this:

    "I am interested to see what will happen with New York and Toronto as Serbs are demanding in Canada that flights begin"

    lol.

    "demanding"

    I see.

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  30. So what if its only for the disprosa? Why would you not have scheduled services? Even so its called operating a damn airline by offering potential conections.

    I mean once weekly charter on a 767-200ER it hardly what I call providing for the disprosa, its a joke.

    And this carrier has/will have only 1 767-200ER in operation, what if one was to have a mechanical faul? Since the aircraft is 20years old or so there is quite a high chance of that happening too.

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  31. I doubt that 250000 passengers from ZAG are flying on transatlantic service....This is equivalent of more than 600 pax per day! This may be a figure that the Airport manager launched in order to lure a carrier like DL or AA.
    For BEG the new service will for sure harm LH/AF/LX and others that offer transatlantic. 250 pax per week less is an equivalent of 35 pax per day less for the big players!

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  32. 250.000 pax from ZAG to USA is not number presented by managers of Zagreb airport, but by 2 international companies which target passengers. Those companies (one from Manchester, 2nd from USA) are specialized for this kind of service and Zagreb airport pay them to trek all passenger from ZAG to their final destinations. This tool is one of main tools for strategy of development of airport.

    In my interview with Mr. Matkovic for Aeronautika (when he was general manager of ZAG) he shows me those data from official reports.

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  33. ...250.000 and yet there is no airline flying the route.

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  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  35. Company AirPlus is making reservations and the first few weeks are sold out http://www.flyairplus.com/
    Leaving Chicago on Friday only, and Belgrade Sunday only.
    Chicago flights are operated from Chicago O'Hare airport terminal 5. They arrive to international terminals at Zagreb Pleso Airport and Belgrade Nikola Tesla airport.
    Feel free to contact our call center at 877-849-5002.

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  36. I agree that 250000 transatlantic passengeres from ZAG is made up. The airport management wanted transatlantic service and paid for a review that proofes that figure. I think 35000-50000 maximum is more realistic.

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  37. Hahaha....250000 transatlantic pax to Zag...the management could have saved a lot of money on the study (btw who did it? the uncle or nice of the airport manager?) if they made printout of baggage tags with final destination for each flight.....or just the PTM of each flight. Every airport does this....

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  38. @Mister Wegas,

    Are you working for the airline? Maybe you can shed some light on the mentioned delays of the service?

    Thank you

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  39. I'm not working for the airline. I just called them today and made reservation for myself and my son. They told me everything is set, even all flights still have "stand by" status.

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  40. Doot...

    do you read what i say ? lol open your eyes... 7 hour train ride for 50$! that saves my family $600, not little money! iid rather take train than waste on airplane :P durrr.... we are possibly going to just fly CLE - ORD - BEG , or pay little more to go CLE - PHL - FRA - BEG..

    i dont know what you are talking about.. and they are demanding.. they wanna fly to jfk or ord to hop to BGD :P

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  41. @Mister Wegas,

    Wow that is really good!! Thanks for the update.
    I guess that those rumours about the delays is just someone trying to bring about bad publicity for the route.
    I am really happy that this route will finally become reality!
    I am not so sure if this route can become profitable in winter... Who knows and who cares as long as it does happen!!

    I can't wait for this summer in Belgrade. It's going to be pretty wild. The end of the month results should be impressive.

    @Aleks

    Would that mean that you would be flying on US Airways? Man don't do that to yourself, that airline is like a flying ghetto! Stay away from it :P

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  42. "and they are demanding.. "

    OF WHOM??!


    Maybe it's an election issue.

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  43. I really don't understand why you have this tone. 250.000 passengers is data from 2 the biggest company which trek passengers. Zagreb is just one of several hundreds of airports that use that information.

    But I will not be part of discussion with people which don't have any idea of tools that are used by airports, and how airports work. On this blog most of participants are Serbian nationalists which hate Skopje, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Pristina, Ljubljana, Podgorica etc. and who are totally blind because of their nationalism. For them all what is not BEG is nothing, does not have any potential, and is just here to work for BEG success!

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  44. last anonymous,

    EXACTLY!! im flying with grandparents and they INSIST we fly with them because they are cheaper, out only other option is charter and they say it can arrive late and they are like... i dont know!!! i heard good of US Airways, what do you mean ghetto?

    Mister Wegas - are you living in Chicago?

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  45. The question is would 250,000 to North America be enough to motivate an airline to start direct flights? You have to consider both the competition and the fact that all these pax are not travelling to the same destination so what is the difference in say flying Zagreb direct Chicago then connecting there to your final destination or flying Zagreb to Frankfurt or Heathrow for example and connecting on a direct flight there to your final destination. When you consider all this then you start to realise that 250,000 pax per year is not really a huge pool to get a decent share on a direct flight market.

    Also, 250,000 passengers continuing to North America from 2 million pax who use Zagreb every year or 12.5% is not unrealistic.

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  46. @Aleks,

    Well they have a bunch of planes that are really old and crappy inside. Most of their B767 and A330 fleet is like that.
    Their cabin crew is absolutely nasty and horrible to say the least. They are rude and unpleasant and so on...
    Their onboard service leaves a lot to be desired.

    Out of all the US airlines Delta ranks as the number one, at least for me. Their intercontinetal inflight product is far behind Lufthansa but is miles ahead of let's say United.

    I remember when I flew from Amsterdam to Dulles on a B767-300 (United) they informed us once we sat down that the ptvs were broken. Not to mention that it was during the ash cloud so our flight was MUCH longer. The crew was nasty and you could see them only once during the entire flight...

    The only reason why I do fly on US Airways is coz it's only them and Delta that are allowed to fly Boeing 757s into DCA :D

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  47. @Purger

    I think you forgot that BNX will soon get transcontinental flights way before Zagreb because they know how to make it profitable with only 4 people on board. The airline will be called Sky Srpska.

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  48. Something is shady here. The American tour operator is AirPlus who uses Swiftair's service, who then rent their plane from Ryan International since the code on the ticket is RD. So many companies mixed up. Plus I heard that Airplus had to organize an event for the Chicago ethnic agencies since people are afraid of offering and selling this option. So the stories about sold out flights are not true. After all everyone still remembers the adventure called non-stop flights to Zagreb from 4-5 years ago promoted by Vega Travel that burned a lot of people. But, hey let's see what happens. :-)

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  49. @ Maxwell

    Why so malicious? Air Plus had a contract with Ryan International to operate their flights but RIA stood them up because they went for ARMY contract and said Serbia and Croatia are barbaric. We all know that. RIA did that every year and they are on court for it. That is why still on the ticket there is RD call. But it will change next week to Q7 as per agreement with DOT. Vega travel did not deliver the money to their carrier and carrier canceled the arrangement. Air PLus does not need to deliver the money to the carrier as they are now part owned by Swift and all the funds go directly to escrow account from which Swift gets money when passenger returns. This is the reason why you allways look at financial background of carrier. If you were on the meeting you know that it was organized for travel agents that are selling tickets as they asked for it. They heard rumors from people like you and Purger that Swift does not have permits and that flights are with tech stop, that Swift does not have widebody ac, that Earth will end in 2012, that Nikola Tesla left us an weapon to fight any enemy etc. Flights are not sold out that is definately truth. THEY CAN'T BE IN SUCH SHORT PERIOD! No one can sell out widebody aircraft for two weeks. But flights for 17th, 24th of june and 1st and 8th July do not have lowest fares no more. I personaly know that on those flights there is already over 140 pax on each. That is 60% PLF in two-three weeks of sales on first month of operations. So if you are one of those agencies that was offended as they did not get consolidator contract (one of the largest consolidator in USA is selling these tickets, they had 148 Million sale in 2010 and they do not allow home-based agencies or scammers to sell same product as they want to preserve their credibility), or one of those that was expecting LH/JU SPA contract to continue why dont you just write "I am jelous" or " I wish I did this, not them", than spread malicious lies like this. It is shame that instead of supporting this thing as it is good for everyone especialy our diaspora and our countries, you have people like you who try to turn everything positive into their little malicious jelous games. If anyone needs informations I did a check on distributors for Air Plus. In last year, Cosmo, Panorama, Unidea, Easy travel and Kompas had combined revenue of over 200 M. By ARC and BSP infos. Not one of these agencies is in the busines less than 15 years.
    Cosmo in business 20+ years and in last year "biggest producer" for Lufthansa, Delta, Croatia Airlines and Jat in USA.
    Panorama in busines over 20+ years while owner in this busines over 40 years.
    Unidea one of first five BSP agencies in Serbia and official travel agency of Serbian Basketball association, Serbian Tennis Association. My friend Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic travel with them for God's sake.
    Kompas is curently having a market share in Croatia of over 40% and they are GSA for Delta, TAP etc etc.
    People all of these guys are long in busines and they all know what they are doing. If they were making wrong moves they would not be for this long in business.
    If you know about ethnic travel busines situation right now, you do know that this is only chance after 1st of may for our people to travel this summer to Belgrade and Zagreb under 1500$.
    Me as someone who lives from sales of airline tickets can tell you that I hope this ops will go trough until some big boys see the potential and take it to next level. And my dear friend you should think same way.
    There is two things we all need to pray for: these flights full and that JU will not file Chapter 11 before june. If these flights are profitable you will see big boys very soon with their aircrafts, and in second case no one would like thousands of people on the airports with tickets LH does not let passengers on board.

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