Friday, June 10, 2011

Chicago flights fail to sell

Swift Air to combine Belgrade and Zagreb flights due to poor loads
Swift Air, which was to commence flights from Chicago to Zagreb and Belgrade from June 17 and June 19 respectively, will now combine the service due to poor tickets sales. Instead of an individual one weekly flight to Zagreb and Belgrade, the service will now operate Chicago – Zagreb – Belgrade and return. Swift Air has sent a request to both the Serbian and Croatian civil aviation directorates for a new license to be granted based on these changes. Both have are said to be in the process of granting the new license to the American charter airline. The spokeswomen for Serbia’s Civil Aviation Directorate, Katarina Andrić-Milosavljević, said that there was no reason for a new license not to be granted since all technical and safety measures have been met by the airline.

Swift Air has told the civil aviation agencies that it has been unable to sell enough seats and is requesting for a license to be issued for a combined service based on economic reasons. This is despite earlier announcements from the airline that tickets were selling like hot cakes. As a result, Belgrade and Zagreb will be connected via the air for the first time in 20 years, although no tickets can be purchased for travel between the two cities.

Recently, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Infrastructure in Serbia said that such seasonal charter services are unlikely to succeed as they do not offer the same leniency as scheduled carriers when it comes to date changes and baggage. Furthermore, he noted that such airlines do not connect onto other regional services.

The flights from Chicago to Belgrade are still scheduled to commence on June 17. Although the departure and arrival times are certain to change, no new schedule has been officially published.

63 comments:

  1. off course. the idea of having them fly to each city had seemed too tood to begin with. Maybe some day, when the market gets used to flying directly. For now, it's the most logical way.
    So would anyone know how does this work in practice? The plane lands in Zagreb, some pax get off. What do the rest do in the meantime ? Can they get out and refresh themselves/buy things in the transit area of the LDZA or what ?
    I'd hate to have to sit in the plane for 1 hour. Still better than catching another plane and waiting sometimes for over 3 hours which is often the case in most of the connecting flights via European airports.
    what do you think ?

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  2. lol, wud love to be on that plane, now with the mixed crowd haha. Epic!

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  3. Yes but if tickets can not be sold between Belgrade and Zagreb then it means that they are not really connected. ;)

    There is demand however I think that the timing is bad. The US economy is still in a bad place and they didn't give people enough time to purchase their tickets.
    Not to mention that there is tough competition from airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France and let's not forget Lot whose primary goal in Belgrade was to attract Serbs travelling to Chicago.

    Oh well...

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  4. Once again, a failed attempt at scheduled operations turns to rubbish. Lets see a major carrier open this route once and for all simple, DL,AA or UA then we can firmly belive the service will acutlally operate.

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  5. That was dilettantism in first place:

    1. Too late with sale and promotion of line. Most potential passenger already bought ticket with some other carrier. For sure if you travel so far you don't wait till one month in advance.
    2. The promote line and no one even know where to buy ticket (Kompas in Zagreb, for instance, told me that they don't have any information about it, and they for sure would have to know first).
    3. Internet page was still unfinished on day of starting booking, very simple, with no information, e-booking did not work... Even today you can not find this web page if you don't know precise address.
    4. They did not know precise dates and time of flying, even today they change it. They change dates and starting flights for several times.

    Now will anybody in this blog buy ticket for his family and spend some 3.500 EUR for company acting like this? I would not for sure!

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  6. I had a filling that will not work , maybe in the next weeks we will see suspension on the service due to not enough pax. Maybe they should add SKP to attract more pax , ord-zag-beg-skp-ord. :)

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  7. What I m curious about is, how much potential HR and SRB residents live today in the Chicago area?
    For sure many of them who emigrated 1950-1975 do not travel anymore on a steady basis back. Their kids are born in the States and do not necessarly travel on a steady basis back home, some of them even doesn t speaks serbo-croatian language.
    So actually how much potential passenger is still here who flies on a yearly or 2 yearly basis back home to ZAG and BEG?
    And than again from this figure, it s the question how many of them can afford flying intercontinental each year or every 2nd year??

    Because when people speak of 100 000s of Serbs and Croats are living in the States, this might be right, but most of them probably being 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation or even more.

    Sam do you have any figures overthere?

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  8. @ Dreamliner,

    No they would not cancel the service. Zagreb loads are poor, so they combined the flights. June 17th from chicago to beograd was almost sold out the other day, i barely was able to get the ticket. On June 24th, the flight is SOLD OUT. Many other days too, sources tell me cabin load factor is about 70-80%, and they tell me people are constantly buying the tickets to this day.

    I believe for sure next summer swift air or another airline, hopefully scheduled will link america with serbia via air travel! and they will do so on time.

    @ JU 250,

    I live in cleveland. I can tell you most of the people here travel back to serbia as much as they can, including akron. I can speak for the cleveland and akron area we have maybe 200,000 serbs/ serbs for bosna together... maybe even more, and more move here every year. We all want to go back. That is why many people are driving to chicago lke myself and then taking the charter. Serbs here save as much as they can from their paycheck to go, especially their families. Roughly, maybe 80% of serbs here go back. That is why next summer, swift air told me they are planning to begin cleveland - beograd. Maybe it would work chicago - cleveland . Beograd? pozz.

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  9. @ Admin,

    how can you put "fail to sell"....? when some flights are sold out? and a lot of people bought tickets.

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  10. Mr Nikolic,

    You are a funny man / boy.

    There were not even anywhere near 200,000 Serb declared in the last US senses in the whole USA! From LA to Main form Miami to Anchorage there are less than 150,000 persons who put Serbia as their nationality, so 200,000 Serbs in Cleveland? I don't think so.

    Also, when you are talking to Swift and asking how the bookings are going, they will always give you a positive answer even if this is not the case. This is basic promotion and is designed to have a euphoric effect as we saw in your last post. They could have sold 2 seats on a particular flight but they will tell you that it is almost sold out so you can run around and tell your family and friends to better hurry up and buy before it’s too late.

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  11. @ JU520

    The number of ex Yugoslavs living in the US and Canada is significant but how many is hard to say. Serbs and Croats who emigrated after WW 2 used to prevail. However, during the last war, a big wave of people from Bosnia and parts of Croatia started coming, including myself :)
    I would say, you are most likely right when you say that it's mostly the 1st generation who travels back home most frequently. I travel every summer, sometimes for the Christmas holidays as well. It depends how much vacation I get and of course if I can afford the ticket :) Most of the Bosnians, Croats and even Slovenians that I know here, fly to ZAG and then they get picked up by their relatives and friends. Bosnians who live in the Sarajevo region and more south, fly either to SJJ or even SPU and DBV. On the other hand, Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians utilize BEG. I think politically, people wouldn't mind flying into any of those (ZAG or BEG) as long the price and connection times are attractive. I think many of the EX YU diaspora is more comfortable finding their way around ZAG or BEG airport than some humongous FRA or LHR.

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  12. We have to have patients when it comes to these charters, I said it a post a few months back that it could be one or two years before direct flight become popular. This won’t happen overnight, people have to change their habits and as noted in the original post, a charter does not offer the extra goodies one would get flying with an airline such as Lufthansa.


    Also,

    How many people take the opportunity to visit other relatives throughout Europe when flying indirect. For example, Chicago to Frankfurt, 2 day stay to visit brother sister cousins etc, then continue to the ex Yu?

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  13. It is easy to find out how many Croats, Serbs etc live in the USA, just look at the latest census. If they are 3rd / 4th generation and have not declared a nationality then they have most likely lost all contact with thee ancestral home and would have little interest in traveling there unless it’s a one off holiday. Therefore are not even worth including as a group who is likely use this charter.

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  14. well, I think we need to look this from another point of view as well. Today, the airlines have many different programs with which they are trying to attract passengers, one of that is air miles and possibility for upgrade. It's not anymore just to fly from point A to point B and be done, even many ex-yu ppl whom are living in US nowadays they might be going to meetings, conferences throughout the year within US often and if they are members of some airline awards program, they wouldn't mind to get one more flight somewhere in Europe and get much better inflight experience.
    The ppl who are using airports just for going back to Ex-Yu, I would say they wouldn't mind taking this charter flight.

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  15. The thing is, we cannot count on the diaspora travel only. Hopefully, the economy situation improves and more investment comes to ex YU. This would increase business travel, which is the money maker for airlines. Croatia is almost in the EU. I truly hope Serbia joins soon too as this will be the only way to make this region stable and safe for investments. Serbia and Croatia are major players in the region and whatever they do, the rest of ex YU will follow. I am happy to see passenger numbers increasing. This year might be the record breaking one. One thing is for sure. Tourists started coming back. Building infrastructure and developing the tourism sector is a vital source of income for our region. I hope our people realize it and make this land once again welcoming and tourist friendly.

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  16. @ Q400,

    My bad, I meant around 100,000. Yes, this number. A lot of them do not put Serbian on their census. Many are americanized as well, but find the money and go back. And I didnt JUST say Cleveland, I said Cleveland - Akron area. Both have many Serbs/ Bosnians, also in many cities near them too. Not to mention Detroit nearby, and many other cities. Charters used to fill up once weekly Cleveland - Beograd when it was Yugo. Now with many more Serbs in Cleveland area, this can be a reality. Parma alone got around 40,000 registered Serbs I believe. Enough said. Nobdoy knows 100% sure, and nobody ever will 100% of the time, but this is an estimate... an accurate estimate. I talk to people from the churches around here about how many Serbs reside around here and the families that are there. Number is above 100,000 , 100% sure.

    And no, we were going to book tickets on the 24th.... we couldnt because it was sold out.

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  17. except diaspora other potential pax are "work and travel" students. But for the students i think the biggest problem is the price for this route. Just to compare: flying to USA form SKP,PRN,BEG,ZAG etc. for this students price is about 600 eur round trip(to NYC), with Austrian, and they offer open tickect (we can use the ticket for flying back on any date we want)and with add. 100 eur we can travel to CLE,DTW,ORD or some other destinaiton.

    and as for the Macedonians in USA. why the wont use this flight. Becouse most of the Macedonians who travel from USA to Macedonia are 50+ years old and they just love to use DTW-AMS-ZAG-SKP, and JFK-VIE-SKP route, and is very hard to change their habit:))

    Except this, ex-yu diaspora will use some other flight with connection from DL,UA or AA and earn some air miles, and the they can get discount on some domestic flights is USA.(Florida, California etc)

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  18. @ last Anonymous

    There are many Macedonians in my area here. Actually, there is a whole suburb called Macedon :)We are having a big wedding party at their church in 2 weeks.

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  19. OFFTOPIC!!!

    AIRBERLIN AND PEGASUS WILL START FLYING TO MACEDONIA THIS SUMMER, AIRBERLIN FROM SKOPJE TO DÜSSELDORF ONCE A WEEK AND PEGASUS FROM SKOPJE TO ISTANBUL (AS A COMPETITION TO TURKISH AIRLINES) THREE TIMES PER WEEK AND ALSO TO IZMIR.

    (Macedonia will also get ten new airline companies that will mostly operate charter flights to the destinations such as Amsterdam, Venice or Zurich.)

    http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/18362/1/

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  20. General problem with diaspora travellers is that they make "wave" on the begining od summer and oposite on the end of period. In mean time carier will have a lot of empty seats in oposite direction of wave. Other kind of travelers, business, leasure etc. from America or ex-yu who can fill empty seats does not exists. This is a main reason why charter flights always fail and network carriers not.

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  21. Perhaps they would be better alternating. Chicago-Zagreb-Belgrade one week and Chicago-Belgrade-Zagreb another week. This could be a beneficial test if they actually plan on having direct flights to each city next year.

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  22. @ last anonymous
    Why would anyone be stupid enough to fly a higher mileage than necessary? It's simple geography: Zagreb is closer to the States than Belgrade.

    Why doesn't JAT fly Belgrade-Dubai-Larnaca-Dubai-Belgrade but Belgrade-Larnaca-Dubai-Larnaca-Belgrade?

    What's so 'better' about landing in Belgrade? Sure, you want a non-stop connection from Belgrade to Chicago, but as far as the operator is concerned that's worst, not better.

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  23. off topic.
    just noticed JAL flight is scheduled to arrive from Osaka at LDZA for tomorrow. I thought I read somewhere, peraps on this forum, that JAL would be cutting down on summer charters this year...
    BUT notheless great news !

    @betterlsworse - makes complete sense. flying to Belgrade first would be irrational regarding time, cost of fuel etc. Afterall, Swift hasn't invented this pracice. JAT did it all the time in the 70s and 80s for large number of flights to the States.

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  24. @ Anonymous b4 Better is Worse,

    No. It is stupid to fly Croatians over their country into Beograd. And then fly back to their country. Wtf? If they will do it, then they should do it right like scheduled - RFD-BEG (via ZAG)

    @ BetterIsWorse,
    Im sorry my friend but no it is not simple geography, especially if an airlines from the states begins flights. There are more connections out of Belgrade, it is more of a regional hub. Yes, Zagreb as well has decent connection - but not as much as Belgrade, everyone knows this. All they need is flights starting between Zagreb and Belgrade. It is not just mileage, why do you think there are flights from Warsaw to Chicago, but no flights from Warsaw to Myrtle Beach or New York? The reason is CONNECTIONS and passengers. Belgrade is the key here.

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  25. @AleksNikolicUSA

    I was talking in the context of Swift Air flights RFD-ZAG-BEG. In this context, it's simple geography.

    So, how upset are you that your flight to BEG will not be a non-stop one?

    Also, you sound like SerbianSausage with that evangelical belief of BEG being a hub that it's not. You keep telling people to chill, but in this case you should chill out, although I foresee a rant about how you see the BEG future through your crystal ball. Call me when American, United or Delta set up a proper direct and non-stop connection to BEG. After all, even the tiny PRN had two different charter airlines fly direct and non-stop from JFK. Not the end of the world.

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  26. plus belgrade has lepa brena concerts...duh!

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  27. I talked to friend of mine that owns a travel agency.according to him,he receives everyday phone calls about this charter flight,but can not sell the tickets,obviously..so why is it that only 2 travel agencies in US can sell this type of charter flight...this swift air CEO has no room to complain about the seats being not filled up with pax...

    just my 0.02cents

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  28. @ Better Worse,

    I actually am not upset at all. Why would I be? I believe we do not get out of the plane, and anyways this was how it was back when JAT had charters to Belgrade. I am just happy I can get on the plane in Chicago, and get out in Beograd!

    Yes, it is not now. Correct. Nobody knows the future, I never said anything for sure. I do say chill because some people go off saying how THIS WILL HAPPEN or THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN, when NOBODY knows.... We have to think about the possibilities, and be open minded for the future. Sadly this is not so common in the world today. But everyone acknowldges Serbia's future path and knows it potential. It is MOST LIKELY flights will begin with American carrier. It is about time, seriously. With the huge diaspora, increasing tourism from USA (personal experiences, figures provided by government sources), and business between USA and Serbia increasing, it is VERY LIKELY. JAT did the charters to many cities in USA back in the 80's. WHy not today?

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  29. @AleksNikolicUSA -
    the potential of Serbia is certainly there and there is a huge diaspora, ok.
    However, the way I see it, things have changed a bit since the 80s. The most change is in the fact that the exYU markets are now fragmented, and if Croatia itself is struggling to attract U.S charter passangers, I don't see how, on the other hand, you could expect Serbia to rock on.
    JAT had connections throughout exYu and was able to deliver full planes on steady basis because pax were picked up from Skopje, Beograd, Zagreb, Ljubljana. There were combinations Beg-US directly, ZAg-US directly, than Beg-ZAg-US, or even LJU-US directly too. They played around with time schedule because they had the space to manouver all this. Now with the border restrictions, "sporazum o zračnom prometu" or whatever you'd call it in english, and other companies (Lufthansa) and airports (Budapest) that "stole the regional connection" makes it hard for a U.S company to come to any one of these ExYu countries.
    For example, my good friend found a ridiculously cheap ticket for Budapest-New York and so I am driving his ass to Budapest next week. It's either that, or pay more and fly to Frankfurt. Beg and Zag had lost it and are faaaar behind the game.

    OK, Belgrade has the most connections, but if you look at the number of tourists, Zagreb that is much smaller than Belgrade attracts around 600-700.000 tourists each year just around what Belgrade does. American tourists come to Zagreb to stay for 2-3 days and go to Plitvice lakes, Zagorje or continue on to the croatian coast.
    Zagreb has a lot of potential, it's the capital of a country that has almost 11 million of tourist annually, yet is still struggling to get direct flights.

    Belgrade has been becoming a "hot" city break destination lately and yes it does have much larger serbian diaspora than Croatia in the U.S, but honestly what other tourist destination, other than Belgrade, is a brand in Serbia ? I am saying that other than being able to easily "reconnect" in BEG, a foreign tourist wonders where to go once outside Belgrade. Or I am wrong ? Please correct me if I am being ignorant, but I see Serbia as a country that still has not much to offer yet, other than Belgrade.

    Also, while Belgrade is the only relevant airport in a large region which makes it a "natural hub" for making other "reconnections", Zagreb, is surrounded with many destinations that are attractive for visitors and so tourists may want to come just to be in "the area" from where it's easy to snoop around and go elsewhere (beach, mountains, national parks).

    My point is, if each country insists on getting the conections by themselves, we may wait for U.S flights forever.

    I believe we have a problem with fragmented markets. The logical solution is to have 2 smaller hubs, ZAG for the connections towards North America and West Europe, and BEG towards East Eurpoe and Asia/Oceania etc.

    Also, the market segments (diaspora travelers vs. tourists, or business travelers) that we talked about on this forum, make the situation less clear as to where do our passengers come from, or where can come from in the future.

    I agree that we won't know what'll happen...can only hope for the best.

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  30. Exactly my point! I agree with you on most of your points, but I am too exhausted and busy to reply to all of them lol. I believe all the ex-yu countries should work together more, maybe get one airline. Balkan Airways? Who knows. Connect the whole region very well, and start trans-atlantic flights. I am still hopeful that soon enough flights from USA or Canada and other countries will begin to Belgrade, and Zagreb can begin routes with Beograd so people from Zagreb can catch those flights. Purchasing power may be lower than Yugoslavia, but we still have Nikola Tesla aerodrum , "Surcin" ... where any airline can fly to if they decide to. We will just have to wait and see what the future brings us, and hope for the best!

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  31. Aleks
    one airline - maybe in a scenario in which one would acquire one or two of the other airlines.

    When I said fragmented markets, I didn't mean purchasing power which is roughly around the same as it was before the war.

    I meant that our markets are fragmented for someone that would deliver their service here, i.e. a major US carrier.

    I advocate the idea that if some carrier wants and/or needs to do "collecting" of passangers throughout exYu that would fill up their planes on regular basis, that should be done US-ZAG-BEG because of geography. The classic idea of hub for BEG can work for many destinations, but not on the US flights. Zagreb is what you need, because those planes could fill with tourists that will stay in Zagreb area and travel around + croatian diaspora etc.

    So, first phase US-ZAG-BEG
    If the market gets large enough, the next phase that'd make sense is US-BEG directly. The third US-ZAG. That's how I see it.

    If I were to reconnect in a classical "feeder flight" from ZAG to BEG, to me it's more logical and less expensive to do ZAG-FRA-US just like I had been doing... makes complete sense.
    Now if I was to stay on the plane and just wait for people to get on board so that we could continue the flight, that's a different story. That's "almost as flying direct". In that scenario US-ZAG-BEG-ZAG-US makes much more economic and logic sense.

    Not only

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  32. Aleks you make me smile every day!

    1. Zagreb via Belgrade to USA. Why? To west via east? If you have option to travel via FRA, MUC, ZRH, LHR, AMS, CDG... so many options why will someone travel via BEG?
    2. Croatia has bigger Diaspora in USA and Canada than Serbia. There are 420.763 Croats in USA and 110.880 in Canada. There are 170.874 Serbs in USA and 72.690 in Canada. That means there are 3 times more Croats in North America than Serbs. Of course lot of Croats and Serbs does not declare them as Croats and Serbs but that is same for bout nations in percentage.
    3. Croatian BNP is much bigger than Serbian + tourism is main industry. Also Croatians will not have visa to enter USA from December 2011, and for Canada we don’t need visa for some years now. In 2013 Croatia will enter European Union.

    That is why Pan Am and Air Canada flew to ZAG not to BEG, and why most of Jat lines flew from ZAG to USA.

    No stop bi blind nationalist and read this facts again.

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  33. Purger, LMAO! Everyone knows Serbia has a greater diaspora in America than Croatia. Not all registered, lmao! 100,000 and something isent even close!!! Alone not too long ago in one church in Parma Ohio, 40,000 Serbs were registered. 30,000 in one down th street. So ur saying about 70% of Serbs in USA live in Ohio? LMAO no! Man , get outside of the box.

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  34. Oh yeah, Quantas JAL and many other airlines flew to BEG. Pan Am too! lol :PPPPP

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  35. @AleksNikolicUSA

    Add Air Koryo (at the time CAAK) to that list! FNJ-SVO-BEG-SVO-FNJ, and FNJ-SVO-SOF-BEG-SVO-FNJ services.

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  36. Aleks, everyone knows Croatia has a greater Diaspora in America than Serbia, just you know different. For 2 times I quote here official document of Ministry for religion and Diaspora of Republic of Serbia where you can read that Serbian Diaspora is 3 times smaller than Croatian. Of course USA census confirmed that.

    Yes, of course, lot of Serbs does not declare them as Serbs in USA, but you want to say that absolutely all Croats declare them as Croats in USA? Census is official document. And if 50% of Serbs in USA declare themselves as Americans, trust me it is same percentage of Croats to do so! Anyhow census says so, your Ministry says so, and all possible documents and source say so. Just you know different.

    Pan Am never flews to BEG, but had 4 flights per week to ZAG. Air Canada never flew to BEG, but had 3 flights per week to ZAG. Most of Jat flights were from ZAG to USA with connections to BEG, not upside-down.

    Of course Air China and Qantas flew to BAG instead ZAG. It is logical. The same way as it is logic that US flights fly to ZAG instead of BEG.

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  37. @AirKoryo

    Can you please verify the JS routing to BEG? Maybe with flight numbers too? Is there any historical timetable of Air Koryo on the internet that could provide that info and validate it? :)
    Thank you in advance.

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  38. Btw, geography is a simple thing regarding air routes, right? Of course its logical to fly USA/Canada/South America/West Africa-ZAG direct just as its logical to fly East Africa/Middle East/Asia/Australia-BEG. Thats why both BEG and ZAG should become great central (Balkan) hubs, with decent connections between these two airports plus good regional connections. That could work as a charm, I bet! We just need to put a side politics, history etc, and think professionally. For once. :)

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  39. @Purger. You are right about Air Canada but not about Pan Am. It flew to Belgrade. As for JU’s flights to the USA they all originated in Belgrade with a stop in Zagreb.

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  40. Whan did Pan Am fly to BEG? I have timetibles and I never find Pan Am flow to BEG. Give me year and I will check it. But I can not find that...

    Most od flights to USA was BEG-ZAG-USA, but ther was aproximatly 30% of flights flew ZAG-USA, and just few BEG-USA. I put here few months ago time-table from 1990 where you can see that.

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  41. @Purger
    Can you please give me a link to the mentioned timetable from 1990? I would like to see it :)
    Back in 1980s PanAm flew to BEG from New York, London, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt with 727s and 747s I believe.

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  42. "Most of Jat flights were from ZAG to USA with connections to BEG, not upside-down."

    What??? Did you happen to take a look at a Jat timetable from the 80s?

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  43. YES, I have them... As it was going near to 1990 more and more flights transfer to ZAG. Obviously they find that better and more profitable.

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  44. "As it was going near to 1990 more and more flights transfer to ZAG" - No, you said "most of the flights". Which one is it then, "most of the flights" or "more and more"? This just shows you either have no idea what you're talking about or you're deliberately making such claims.

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  45. Could i give my input as someone who sells these tickets and knows things from inside the company?

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  46. ORD-ZAG was about to be canceled, because 90% of people that purchased tickets to ZAG were West Bosnia not Croats and PLF was so low due to non existing sales in Croatia and boycott of Croatian Travel agencies in US. You have largest agency in Croatia selling tickets and you call them and they tell you they dont know about it or they give you price of 300 eur more than on the website of Air Plus? Or that none of the their subagents has information on these flights in Zagreb and they do sales for two months? ZAG AP information desk says that those flights are non-existing while sales are going? Hm. Publicity on both routes was undermined constantly with lots of threats from regional airlines, ridicilous travel agents statements, passengers getting false informations from media, scare tactics etc. At one point there was either cancel ORD-ZAG and refund pax and leave them without tickets in middle of JUNE, or combine and protect them. It was unacceptable for Air Plus to leave passengers with no travel in the middle of June because of sabotages that are not in anyway concern of passengers. This was the reason for consolidation of routes. Because of too many passengers that bought tickets from BEG further, it was impossible to keep same flying times as all of them would lose connection and would suffer for none of their fault. This was the reason for time changes which were not allowed by ORD as they are at their capacity with time slots for new tentative schedule. Only reason for AP change. ORD cannot recieve another wide body aircraft in period 5-10 PM on departure or 12-18 at arrival. At least these guys as i said before, showed credibility, and did not leave any of their passengers like previous attempts.

    @ Better is Worse

    Yes you are right, there is two reasons for ZAG to be first point.
    Time of flying is 45 minutes less via ZAG then via BEG. Also, overflight fees are less and turn of the aircraft is faster and cheaper. Let's not forget that RFD is 15 minutes further West so ZAG has much more sense as first point due to fuel burn also. Flying with less payload for 35 minutes can save beetwen 300-500 gallons per flight...

    @ Purger
    Dilentatism no. Risky yes. Guts yes. But unfortunately, this proves, that for a long time, ZAG will not gonna get transatlantic scheduled flight for sure. YYZ-ZAG, Skyservice, down, JFK-ZAG Vega Travel, down, ORD-ZAG, Air Plus down... All due to same reasons, same problems and same way. All three had same problem with their sales in CRO and all three ended up without big sums of money. It even made SKYSERVICE default with sunwing and close the doors at the end. Majority of things you said is right, but unfortunately, after all bad publicity, sabotages and behind scenes politics, these guys still filled flights to BEG enough to operate trough season. 17th, 24th, 1st, 8th, those are all flights that are sold out. This means 100% PLF. Even under these circumstances i think this is great success for the region. And after all negatives constantly trown to Air Plus face, they are still flying to region after 20 years while all previous attempts failed.

    @ all

    Best success of the sales of Air Plus shows this, once Air Plus announced limited number of seats with price of 1099$ , LH instantly showed in GDS same price... Lufthansa does not react, if someone does not take big chunk of their passengers. All of these years in tickets sales thought me that. No flag carrier ever reacts with uploading prices in GDS if somene did not take their passengers. Hm, dont bet flights are not filled.

    @ Petar

    Dude, it seems that there is another Bratstvo i Jedinstvo starting here and its done by Americans :) HAHAHA Too small of a market to survive separately, too loud to be unified and too complicated to be instant success.
    But what we wished for (direct connection to US for the region) finally is happening... I think this demands celebration... Negative did not succeed, positive and passengers took it in their own hands...

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  47. Yes Dusane, please! :)

    p.s. I didn't get the timetable I was looking forward to :(

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  48. Aca:
    How can you not understand simple sentence?

    That means JAT try to prefer Belgrade when they start to flight to North America. That was politics of Jat not just on America. It was stupid that much more flights were from Split and Dubrovnik to Belgrade than to Zagreb. By that way they unnaturally try to make BEG much bigger hub than ZAG. Of course you can influence passengers by price, connection time etc.

    But they could make this unnatural rape so every year they HAVE TO put more and more flights to ZAG especially to USA, Canada and Western Europe. Because of that MOST OF THE FLIGHTS to USA and Canada, at the end of 1980-es, was from ZAG, not from BEG.

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  49. @dusan,

    wow, that's a shame about the croatian agency. I actually wondered about this, as I too noticed a fairly unagressive marketing for such a new project. Kompas has a banner at zagreb airport web page leading the customers directly to Kompas, and there on their site you could send an email request...etc - I didn't notice that the information was on the front page of Kompas either.
    The positive thing is that there were series of PR articles on-line and in print (jutarnji etc.) informing people about the charter line, Swift etc. but still I feel not enough was done.
    What's the deal with that ? I thought that we in Croatia would want this to work, especially as this line is not in a competition with Croatia airlines. Croatia Airlines explained how transatlantic routes are not in their business strategy.
    So, are the agencies retarded ? And what happened with the sales channels in the States promoting Chicago-Zagreb?
    Maybe the Star Alliance (Lufthansa) lobby has something to do with this, or customers simply haven't gotten the information ?

    Retarded idiots.

    By the way I find it amusing how in the previous post you talked about the negative publicity in Serbia, while commending the professionality of croatians.
    Now, it looks like it's the other way around, or the both are sucky, but one market (serbian) responded better than the other ?
    What is the deal here ?
    Thanks.

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  50. If that's true what Dusan said about Croatian travel agencies, than it's really sad. I also wouldn't be surprised if Lufthansa has to do something with this. Seems as they want to kill every transatlantic service from ex YU before it even becomes a competition game. I wish AirPlus all the best. Hope their service gets more media traction and even more passengers. For the moment, I think I will try to avoid booking on Lufthansa for my future travel plans.

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  51. What Dusan is saying is not all true..Air Plus didn't invest a cent in marketing and excpected the product to sell by itself so late before start of ops. All agencies knew about the product and there was no boycott...that's ridiculous. There's no market, at least not so close to start of ops....especially not for 'no name' product who still doesn't have any credibility, and cannot have it instantly. Regarding sales US side, I don't have facts, so I cannot comment. As far as Toronto ops are concerned, those flights were sold very well and that product (or it's problems) cannot be compared with CHI. Number of pax and sales of flights were not a problem. Bad organisation has been which led to termination of that business and that had nothing to do with Skyervice termination whatsoever. Dusan simply talks too much and changes opinions and facts as it suits him. He just didn't prepare business enough in advance and with enough sales and marketing quality and counted on people standing in line to give him money just beacause he is there with the plane. That's the whole story to this 'boycott'....ridiculous.

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  52. Let me repeat my post.

    That was dilettantism in first place:

    1. Too late with sale and promotion of line. Most potential passenger already bought ticket with some other carrier. For sure if you travel so far you don't wait till one month in advance.

    2. The promote line and no one even know where to buy ticket (Kompas in Zagreb, for instance, told me that they don't have any information about it, and they for sure would have to know first).

    3. Internet page was still unfinished on day of starting booking, very simple, with no information, e-booking did not work... Even today you can not find this web page if you don't know precise address.

    4. They did not know precise dates and time of flying, even today they change it. They change dates and starting flights for several times.

    Now will anybody in this blog buy ticket for his family and spend some 3.500 EUR for company acting like this? I would not for sure!

    ...and with this parody of starting, of so called web-page, of missing seling agent... you have nerv to put it on agencies...

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  53. Pruger,

    I would rather fly with AirPlus for their price than fly with LH for double the amount

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  54. Really?

    Lufthansa ORD-FRA-ZAG-FRA-ORD is 1.174 USD. Swift price start from 1.099 USD, and of course we know what that means "price start from", that not more than 5% of seats will be sold on that price.

    Even if price is 10-15% less (and it is not) I will choose Lufthansa because I can not be sure with such a company!


    And message on their web site is same for 7 days now:
    “Our website will go through scheduled maintenance until June 9 21:00 H. We are very sorry…”

    Today is June 14… Hm, hm, hm…

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  55. purger - sure the Swift air appears to be awkward and for sure that at this point can't reach the level of service Lufthansa can.
    But guess what, LH is juuust a little bigger player that knows its shit and gives none about Croatia, nor Zagreb.
    Swift Air is giving this route a serious shot.
    And for that they are the first ones after 20 years that dared to do open the flight originating from Chicago to Zagreb directly.
    They are probably acting all weird because they are forced to change timetable at the very last minute.

    I understand that you are upset. I am too.
    But there's seriously no point to further accuse Swift for their unsuccess. They organize charter flights and make money for doing just that. They don't sell nor advertise as their core busienss. That's agencies' job. If we so much cared about the success of this route, we (croatians) should have done a better job promoting it at home. That's at least we could have done. Maybe we don't have control over what's being done in America, but we certainly could have done better than a shitty landing page and e-mail contact to a guy who has no idea what he's selling.
    No contextual ads, no google ads, no banners, no placement on front web page...sucky sucky sucky.

    Swift air is in the business of making money, and if we don't show them money, they'll simply go to the place that will do so. So, it's really up to the workings of the croatian market.
    They have a choice to go to a market that sells better. Why would they invest if this formula works in many other places. These people own only a few planes. They have the whole world to choose from... if Zagreb bombs the route, well...

    Swift as a charter must share some responsibility, but I would say that we (croatian sales channels) are 80% responsible for how well this was done. Especially given this is the first route so vital for encouraging other airlines to get these flights in...not to mention the whole thing important to LDZA and Croatia.

    The market does have the potential, and I am sure that LDZA's new strategic partner will help Zagreb achieve the transatlantic routes, but meanwhile before this happens, why loose yet another chance ?

    Croatia and Zagreb have solid airline, good gepgraphic position (not great), tourist potential, and are a capital of a country whose tourism is great. If we put the airport business on heatlhy legs, we are set to be doing 5 mil. pax by 2017.

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  56. Bottom line is that the main reason is that you cannot start sales of long haul flight (also point to point travel basically only) two months before the start of ops...and that is the main reason why this failed. Majority of pax already purchased their tickets and out of the rest you cannot really grab 100% of market share...because there are frequent travellers, there are people who cannot organise themselves to travel exactly on the day when direct flight is, there are pax who don't TRUST the product yet...and that is the whole deal..if the whole thing started 6-8 months before with better advertising etc...then there would be a chance. This way it is now the easiest way to blame the agencies (and that is really ridiculous as they sell what the market wants and needs) or politics...this had notjing to do with any of that, just bad organisation of potentially good business. who knows, maybe in the future, let's hope so!

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  57. Hrvati i Srbi u jednom avionu cccc to je osudjeno na propast...

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  58. "They don't sell nor advertise as their core business. That's agencies' job."

    How can agency do anything if they even did not know that this flight even exists and that they are planed to be agents? Remember I call Kompas when this starts, they didn’t have any information about it. They told me that that is not true, and there is no flights planed directly from Chicago to Zagreb. Now, if I am potential passenger I will go immediately to some other company to buy ticket.

    Also those flights are for Coatis in USA to come to Croatia + tourist to come to Croatia. I am sure no one did not plan that most of the flight will be Croats to fly to USA. So, how can it be responsibility of Croatian agencies? I am sure you did not want to say that Croatian agencies have to pay promotion in USA.

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  59. Purger- sure Swift is partially responsible, but I am talking about the passive approach that I witnessed here in Croatia.
    I repeat: shitty promotion, no information to offer, no distribution of business to several other sub agents...scarce PR, and no goodle ads targeting croatian travellers.
    Given that this is the first flight, people don't know and need to be bombed with information.
    I carefully observed what went on and thought well it really must be up to the croatian american market, because this one is taking a passive approach.
    I agree that the time span was too short, but look at Belgrade, how come they managed to get outsold ? They must be doing something right.

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  60. dusan - our insider man, please would you know what's true...supposedly the Zagreb-Chicago flight just got cancelled, heard it on the croatian news today.
    Will they still fly directly to Belgrade?
    Supposedly, Kompas from Croatia re-directed people towards the other flights for the first flight.

    Now are all the flights to Zagreb cancelled, or just the first one? The rest will be Chicago-Zagreb-Belgrade, or just Chicago-Belgrade ?

    Thanks !

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  61. HELLO, THE FLIGHT IS STILL SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW! I just talked to Air Plus, they said they are the ones to listen to. The 767-200 is parked at Rockford airport, the Air Plus people told me to call the airport and ask if I would like.... :))) YESSS

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