Air Serbia responds to US snub
Air Serbia has expressed its disappointment with a decision by the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) to deny its planned codeshare with Etihad Airways on flights to the country, a precedent which could have future implications for the Serbian carrier. “We believe the decision to deny the planned cosdeshare is contrary to global trends on air transport liberalisation and that the current trade levels and good diplomatic relations between the two countries have not been taken into account”, Air Serbia said in a statement. The DoT’s decision came after several parties, including Delta Air Lines, argued against the codeshare.
Air Serbia says it is considering filing a formal response to the DoT’s decision. The airline is also expected to soon find out whether its planned codeshare to the States with Air Berlin will be approved. Delta has again requested for the DoT to dismiss the application, arguing that while Air Serbia is still majority state owned, Etihad has too much power in its day to day business. Delta used the same line of argument in Air Serbia’s previous codeshare application and could use it again if Air Serbia is to launch flights to the United States, as planned, sometime in the future.
In its own analysis, the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said, “This relatively minor application, having created such a massive reaction, has produced an outcome that harkens back to the baddest old days of regulation. In those less enlightened times, government took the position that it knew best what was good for consumers. Logic would dictate that more route options and price points are better for consumers than fewer”. It adds, “DoT’s decision also reflects the tremendous efforts US carriers are putting into blocking expansion of Middle Eastern hubs. During the winter 2013/2014 season, Air Serbia plans to introduce 12 new routes from Belgrade. The expansion no doubt will allow some channelling of passengers from Eastern Europe to Abu Dhabi, giving those passengers alternative routings to Asia and the Middle East instead of travelling through Western Europe. The new direct links from Belgrade to Africa and the Middle East also give Eastern European passengers new options for travel rather than relying on Western European carriers to reach those markets. The Belgrade expansion ultimately results in another layer of competition for Western European airlines and their US partners”.