Air Serbia marks two months since relaunch
The launch of Air Serbia has undoubtedly been the biggest event in the aviation industry in the former Yugoslavia in 2013. This time last year few could predict Etihad Airways would purchase a 49% stake in the debt ridden Serbian national carrier and relaunch it under a new brand. The airline’s CEO, Dane Kondić, says Air Serbia has achieved a lot since launching operations two months ago, on October 26. “In a short time we showed the world that Air Serbia is a dynamic and ambitious airline with a bright future. We have presented to the world the new identity of our brand, completely redesigned our offer and services, strengthened our sales and modernised the fleet”, Mr Kondić says. He adds, “We have also begun rebuilding our network, with our guests able to enjoy the benefits of a number of new destinations with favourable arrival and departure times”.
Since rebranding as Air Serbia, the airline has launched five new routes with a further six to come in the next five months. On March 30, the Serbian carrier will launch flights from Belgrade to Beirut, Budapest, Sofia and Varna, while Kiev and Warsaw will follow on May 29. All flights are currently planned to operate on a daily basis. “This will bring the number of destinations within our network to 35. That is an increase of 20% and brings us closer to our target to serve 39 destinations by June 2014”, Mr. Kondić says.
However, Air Serbia’s CEO believes there is still some way to go before the airline reaches its full potential. “Our journey has not finished and we still have a long road ahead of us. By lifting our standards we have lifted the expectations of our guests and that is why we have to continue to surpass them in every possible way. We must try even harder for our guests to be at the centre of attention, at the centre of everything we do”, the CEO concludes.
Etihad Airways will officially take over its equity stake in Air Serbia next Wednesday, January 1. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, Air Serbia will continue its close cooperation with Etihad and intends to begin codesharing on the airline’s service from Abu Dhabi to Perth next summer, subject to government approval. In addition, Etihad will organise cabin crew assessment days in Banja Luka from January 11, the first airline ever to do so in the city. It says it is a direct result of the partnership between Etihad and Air Serbia and an example of the benefit that this investment is bringing to the broader region. Meanwhile, the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate has announced it expects the country to be granted category one status by the United States Federal Aviation Administration next March, after the aviation authority completes its assessment of Serbian aviation regulations. The upgrade to category one will bring an end to bureaucratic restrictions for direct flights between Serbia and the United States.