Air Serbia starts strong in 2014
Following its first official week as an Etihad Airways subsidiary, Air Serbia has seen its passenger numbers soar. In the first seven days of the year the airline handled just over 33.000 passengers, an increase of 64.9% compared to the same period last year, setting up one of the busiest Januaries the airline has seen since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Air Serbia’s average cabin load factor stood at 66%, down two points on 2013. Although the figures are representative only for the first week of the year, they are significant as it is the first time growth levels have hit such a high since Yugoslav Airlines began resuming services across Europe in the early 2000s.
The rebranded airline has also seen a major jump in passengers travelling business class, up over 120% on last year, as well as a major increase in the number of passengers using its services to transit through Belgrade. Currently, Air Serbia boasts the largest fleet out of all EX-YU airlines with fifteen aircraft in use at the start of 2014 - seven Boeing 737-300s, four Airbus A319s and four ATR72s. The highest load factor of over 90% is being reported on flights from Belgrade to Zurich, Copenhagen and Paris as well as from Moscow to Belgrade. Prague remains the most popular of the newly launched destinations.
Air Serbia’s predecessor, Jat Airways, hit a low point last January when its fleet shrunk to only eight operational aircraft. The airline was forced to cancel many of its flights and reduce frequencies on most destinations. In January 2013 the airline suspended services to Brussels, which were resumed in April, and operated only a single weekly flight to Copenhagen and Stockholm (with services to the latter operating via the Danish capital). Flight cancellations continued throughout the year until September due to a fleet shortage. A year later, the Serbian carrier has added frequencies to nearly all of its flights and has launched five new destinations while almost doubling its fleet.