Minsk - Budapest - Belgrade service in the works
Belavia, the national carrier of Belarus, plans to launch services from Minsk to Belgrade this summer, the Serbian Ministry for Transport has confirmed for EX-YU Aviation News. The airline intends to operate the flights to the Serbian capital via Budapest. The Belarusian national carrier has informed the ministry of its intention to launch flights to Belgrade and has requested further information on passenger flow between the two countries in the past few year. The airline has also requested fifth freedom rights between Budapest and Belgrade, allowing it to sell tickets between the two. If it is granted such rights, it will be the first airline since the demise of Malév to connect the two cities.
Belavia first announced plans to launch services to Belgrade in November last year after the two countries agreed on a bilateral air agreement. Several years ago it was planned for the airline to launch winter charters from Minsk to Niš Constantine the Great Airport, however, the airline and hoteliers at the nearby mountain resort of Kopaonik failed to reach an agreement. Thus, the flights never went ahead. Several airlines from the former Soviet Union have operated flights to Belgrade in the past few years. They include airBaltic from Riga, Aerosvit from Kiev and Uzbekistan Airlines which operated flights from Tashkent to New York via the Serbian capital.
While it is unlikely that flights between Minsk and Belgrade could generate too much interest, the Belarusian national carrier offers an extensive network to Russia which could entice some transit passengers. The Belgrade - Moscow route is one of the busiest operating out of the Serbian capital with 28 weekly flights planned for the upcoming summer season. Furthermore, Belavia has smaller aircraft in its fleet such as the Bombardier CRJ200 and the Embraer E175. However, the Budapest - Belgrade service could generate significant traffic, though it is highly questionable whether the airline will be granted fifth freedom rights.