Saturday, February 15, 2014

Air Serbia demands return to Ataturk

Air Serbia and Turkish Airlines locked in talks as agreement deadline looms

Air Serbia has demanded to be issued suitable arrival and departure slots at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in talks held with Turkish Airlines this week. In return, the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate will issue Turkish companies, amongst which is Turkish Airlines, permits to operate summer charters to Belgrade this coming season. This winter Air Serbia was forced to relocate from Istanbul’s main airport Ataturk to Sabiha Gokcen after authorities at Ataturk Airport, in collaboration with Turkish Airlines, offered Air Serbia landing and departure slots in the middle of the night. Talks between Air Serbia and Turkish Airlines have to be concluded by next Friday with Air Serbia also pushing for the two sides to end the disparity and operate an equal amount of flights between the two countries in accordance to the bilateral air agreement between Serbia and Turkey. Currently, Turkish Airlines operates more than double the amount of flights between Istanbul and Belgrade compared to Air Serbia.

Three Turkish carriers have applied to operate 194 charter flights to Belgrade and Niš this summer. Since they are yet to be issued permits, the majority of tour operators have decided to use Air Serbia as their means of transport. “It is much easier for tour operators to work with a local company. Anyway, they invested in a new fleet, why should we assist the economy of another country”, Serbia’s National Association of Travel Agencies, YUTA, said in a statement. Air Serbia has put aside four Boeing 737-300s for charters this summer.

Turkish Airlines dominates the market between Turkey and Serbia. This winter season the Turkish carrier offers seventeen weekly flights between Istanbul and Belgrade and is the only airline operating out of Ataturk Airport to Serbia, allowing it to capture a large share of transit passengers as well. On the other hand, Air Serbia offers daily flights to Sabiha Gokcen Airport while low cost airline Pegasus runs four weekly flights to Belgrade from the same airport.

58 comments:

  1. This is very good news. If there is no space for Air Serbia at IST then there is no room for charter flights between the two countries. Turkey would be at a loss here, our tourist can just go to countries such as Greece or Spain for their holidays. If I remember correctly, every summer roughly 500.000 Serbs go to Turkey making it one of the most popular destinations. Heck, with Wizz Air's dirt cheap fares to Larnaca, Serbs can maybe go to Cyprus as well. After all, the island of 800.000 people hosts 2.300.000 tourists every year.

    YUTA's statement is a very good one and I am happy that they are backing Air Serbia. With four B737-300 in service they will dominate the charter market this summer. Air Serbia will have morning departures out of Belgrade (in stead of night flight as was the case before); what will be interesting to see is if the operational division will place them right before the morning wave or just after. My guess is that these charter flights will take off at around 09.00 when the airport is rather quiet and when there is more than enough gate space.
    Actually, I don't think there will be a single free gate until the first morning departure (either Lufthansa or Wizz Air). That's why those bus gates will come in handy. Not only will it be easier to use the C7 to C10 remote stands but they could also use the five parking positions at the B platform.

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    1. Actually, I totally forgot that quite a few aircraft will be flying night flights which means that charter flights will be either departing between 05.00 and 05.30 or like I already said at around 09.00.

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    2. As someone mentioned below, if Kontiki plans to bring tourists from outside of Serbia, it would more likely be 09.00 (to get them connecting from the morning flights) - also it is more convenient for local travellers, as well as for those who live further away.

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    3. Nemjee, you do not have any authority to decide where people should go on holidays so please do not use that cheap argument. If half a million people want to go to Turkey then it is the responsibility of tour operators and relevant authorities to provide them with necessary logistics. And if there are disagreements then there should be talks. But neither you or anyone else has no right to divert them to Cyprus, Greece or anywhere else if their preferred choice is Turkey.

      It is also stupid that Serbia uses summer charters to fight for JU's slot at IST. They already had a good chance to retaliate when TK applied for third daily flight to BEG and what did they do? Instead of offering them something at 3 AM they again approved the best possible slot. And now they will try with charters - a battle they already lost once.

      Finally, maybe some people should bear in mind that TK is state-run and it only takes one unofficial decision that hundreds of TK flights start bypassing Serbian air space (for example, all flights where such maneuver would not increase fuel consumption more than 5%). Then you will quickly see whose negotiating position is better here.

      Serbia of course should fight for its peace of cake baked by the bilateral agreement with Turkey. The only thing is, such fight is done at the table, face to face, and through constant communication. It is not done through online war declarations and 'we-will-force-all-our-tourists-to-go-to-Cyprus' threats.

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    4. 'It is not done through online war declarations'

      So then why didn't you just ignore my post or any other post for that matter? Just because the politicians are discussing this behind closed doors doesn't mean we are not allowed to voice our opinion.

      To me, everything you wrote resembles a rant more than anything else.

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    5. I offered you clear arguments so it is up to you to decide whether you respond to them or not. The first one I will repeat: whoever wishes to spend his/her holiday in Turkey has the right to do so and you have absolutely no authority to force them elsewhere.

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    6. Well, you started you argument by implying that I have the authority to decide where people go for holidays. lol

      Also, your argument that the Serbian government should not fight the Turks is plain silly. It's never too late to start fighting for your interests. The Serbian government owns 51% of JU so obviously they should fight the injustice that was done to them when they were kicked out of IST. After all, if the Greeks could ban them from adding more flight to Thessaloniki, because of what they did to Aegean, then we sure as hell should do the same.

      Furthermore, you are comparing two different things. Back when TK was granted all they wanted, it was during a period when Jat Airways' future was uncertain and when the government didn't really know what to do with them. The situation is very different today as competent people are running JU. This time around the battles the Serbian government will fight are for a good cause and one that will benefit them in the long-run. So maybe they lost this kind of battle in the past but this time around they have much stronger weapons in their arsenal.

      I think you overestimate the importance of Turkey in Serbia. If they decide to re-route their flights around Serbia then some other carriers will just move to fly over Serbia (less congestion). It's not like we will capitulate the very next day. After all, the Serbian sky is busy as it is. Turkey might be a large country and a powerful economy but it has zero influence over Serbia. As posted further below, it seems that they will strike a deal and that there will be charter flights. This can only mean that JU will be returning to IST as that was something which was not up for negotiation. Actually, if the article is true then it proves you were wrong from the start. ;)

      And when it comes to Cyprus, what I meant is that thanks to its cheap fares, Wizz Air has made Cyprus more accessible for the Serbian holidaymakers. If there are no charter flights to Turkey they will just go somewhere else. This year Cyprus is an option since you can buy €50 tickets to go there. Just like Rhodes or Corfu was easy to reach last year when W6 flew there.

      Let's not kid ourselves. Most Serbs go to Turkey because it's cheap. This is best proven by last year's outrage which was caused by a 20% price hike of Turkish holiday packages, a result of the Arab Spring.
      It's safe to argue that Turkey is popular because it is cheap. Anyone who has remotely travelled around will know that Turkish resorts are no better than the Greek or Spanish ones. Simple as that.

      Finally, someone who really wants to spend his holiday in Turkey will just fly to Antalya via Istanbul. However, someone who is looking for a €350 package holiday for his family (most Serbs) will simply go to Greece or Tunis... or even Egypt as was the case last year.

      As you said, I have no authority to dictate where Serbs go for holidays. However, their wallet does and luckily Turkey is not the only place that offers cheap holidays.

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    7. Namjee, my friend, Ataturk is the mess, chaotic and overcrowded airport.SAW ia the better airport for servicing Au SERBIA, many transit px are using SAW and airplanes are loaded, Taxes are lower and everything is better than at Ataturk.Lower prizes, full planes and AirSERBIA could make big profit from SAW.I have been flying at both airports and SAW is like heaven for Ataturk

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    8. I do agree with you, Ataturk is a horrible airport but it's geographical location does give it a clear advantage over Sabiha, especially with business passengers who are generally higher yielding.
      Even though Air Serbia might be flying full out of SAW, it doesn't necessarily mean they are making money there. I am sure they have good reasons for insisting to return to the European side of the city.
      If they keep on expanding at this rate, I could eventually see Air Serbia expand into SAW. Especially as IST keeps on being more and more congested.
      Istanbul and Sabiha could be the same as Heathrow and Gatwick. The former is crowded and expensive but it still attracts airlines to fly there because of prestige and geographical location (though Sabiha is much further away from downtown than Gatwick is).

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    9. I was waiting passport control two hours at Ataturk, at SAW it was take in 2 seconds and had bus to Taksim 45 minutes ride for 5 Euros....so what is better for passengers?

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    11. Well, I guess it all boils down to personal experience. Mine was more or less ok at IST however I would hate to connect there.
      I just think that if IST was so bad (for airlines, not passengers) carriers wouldn't be so interested in flying there. Mind you, even Lufthansa complained they could not get more slots at IST.
      In my opinion JU should have daily flights to IST and then a few weekly to SAW. The market is big enough and there are enough connecting passengers.

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    12. Also, it depends on your needs, I fully agree JU should fly to both SAW and IST. Few years ago I was twice on some conferences at one university on Asian side, flying to IST it was a nightmare. Obviously, it took ages to get trough passport control and claim baggage, then waiting for other participants to arrive (delayed flights, and so on), and in the end, going with minivan to the Asian side (3 hours in bus), it took ages, and it was a hot, very hot summer.
      After the conference I was going to Morocco with some friends from SAW - completely different, positive, story.
      Istanbul is so big, and traffic is a complete disaster and JU should be flying to both airports.

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    13. Exactly. I never advocated for Air Serbia to completely suspend Sabiha flights. All I said was that they need to return to Ataturk airport. In my opinion the best solution would be to fly daily to IST and then to reduce SAW to four weekly flights.

      Flying daily to SAW is a bit too much, especially since Air Serbia's brand recognition in Istanbul is close to zero. By keeping SAW flights, they will retain some of the O&D passengers who are price sensitive (unfortunately this is not a small group of travellers).
      In my opinion, the reason why SAW is performing badly is because Air Serbia dumped capacity overnight. Jat Airways used to fly 4/5 times per week mostly using the Atr. The first thing Air Serbia did was to upgauge the route which is even today operated by the B737. If I am not mistaken they have also added some frequencies to SAW in the meantime. This is the same story as Tel Aviv. It takes time for a route to mature. If it was that easy to fill seats on a plane then almost all European carriers would have been mega-airlines today.

      By the way, I highly doubt Air Serbia will be reducing Tel Aviv at any point. It is an important market because it is high-yielding. After all, it will take some time for Air Serbia to position itself on the Israeli market. That will be no easy task having in mind Turkish Airlines flies up to 8 times per day there, their B777-300 and A330-300 are common sight at TLV. Even Pegasus increased TLV to double daily. If Air Serbia was not serious enough about Tel Aviv, then they would not have immediately increased it to daily, dedicated service out of Belgrade.

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  2. Hell yeah, Air Serbia is pushing back. I think they'll win this one.

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    1. Well right now they don't have much to lose. Their daily flights do SAW aren't even full from what I hear.

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    2. LF is almost 90%, transit pax mostly, viva SAW!

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    3. Ex Yu admin do you have any information on this topic, some people say the LF is around 50%, while others say its 90%. I think both of them are wrong data to be honest.

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    4. It's one of their worst performing routes that's why they want to move. While it started off well when it launched LF now hovers around 50%

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    5. does anybody really know what the loads are to Istanbul? Some people say its 50% full while others say its 90%.

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    6. ^^^^ sorry for posting it twice, I didnt notice you responded back! Cheers

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    7. I flew twice with AirSerbia to SAW in January, hade some business in Istanbul, both flights were full, am i fool or maybe i had that experience by chance?

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  3. YU-ALN departed to Netherlands this morning.

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    1. YU-ANI departed to Amsterdam this morning

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    2. @Anon 9:56
      What are you trying to say?

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    3. Is YU-ANI staying during the summer months? Maybe it is getting its cabin reconfigured.

      I remember reading somewhere that the B737s will be getting a new cabin. I guess they will be in the all economy configuration like the Bulgarian ones.

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    4. They are not getting new cabins they will just be in all economy configuration

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    5. YU-ANI flew a scheduled flight. YU-ALN will receive new cabin and livery.

      @Anon 10:57
      I'm not so sure about the 144Y-configuration.

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    6. YU-ALN is an Atr-72. We are talking about the Boeing fleet here since it is already well known that the Atrs will be getting the new livery, seats and toilets.

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  4. It was also reported that the biggest Serbian tour operator, Kontiki, will be bringing tourists from the region to fly from Belgrade.
    I wonder what region they are referring to though.

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  5. ExYu minus Slovenia probably.

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    1. Hmm I think it might be eastern parts of Croatia and some parts of Republika Srpska. I don't it makes sense to bring people from as far as Sarajevo or Zagreb or even Macedonia. Even if there are quite a few Macedonian buses at Belgrade airport.

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  6. Ataturk aerodrom ne dozvoljava Slobodan geit u dnevnom period, ER SRBIJA odstupa na Sabiha Gokcen
    drugo razredni. DELTA AIRLINES stavlja rampu na tamo
    malu AIR SERBIA. LUFTHANSA German erlains protestvuje protiv investiranja u avio kompanije izvan EU drzava... Da Lufthansa je snazna avio kompanija i takva treba da ostane. Ne treba da manje kompanije i to sve odreda da obsluzuju veliku Lufthansu. Ljudi u ER SRBIJI
    kno how. Nece razljucivati uvazene prijatelje u Nemackoj,
    ali nece leteti samo izmedju Beograda, Nisa,Kraljeva, Banja Luke (Trebinja kada se izgradi aerodrome) ... vec
    kako krila rastu tako ce biti dostupni Chicago, New York,
    Sydney... Na 40 destinacija krila dinamicne AIR SERBIA vec uspesno slecu. Jedino ko cita Srpski ovo mu je dostupno. Za sve probleme i resenja tu je "majka" tiha diplopatija. Nikad ne reci nikad! Na Engleskom sledeci put. Na Nemackom sa zadovoljsvom kada budem naucio
    Velike nade u fair go. Leto na severnoj hemisveri je na vratima. Dobra volja je u nama ako hocemo, a tu su I krila
    stotina avio kompanija. Mirno nebo, srecni letovi svima nama sto letimo i naravno zivimo i letimo sa mirom gde hocemo, skim hocemo, kada hocemo...
    Rodney Marinkovic, AME. Kraljev0 / Sydney-Griffith NSW.

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  7. Vecernje Novosti said yesterday that they are close to make a deal.

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  8. If this isn't sexy then I don't know what is. :D

    Air Serbia's first Atr-72 featuring the new livery.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/1622265_655111904530920_323215172_n.jpg

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    1. It's very nice indeed. Hope the interior is somehow different from A319 cause I don't like that blue-grey seats.

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    2. Yu-alo heading to beg right now in a new livery as jat101, so spotters be ready and prepare your cameras. This morning yu-aln went for reconfiguration and livery as well. Welcome ATR, waiting to see photos

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    3. New Air Serbia livery looks great on ATR's indeed, maybe even better then on A319's...

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    4. The aircraft looks simply stunning. Much better than the A319 in my opinion.
      There are more pictures on Air Serbia's Instagram account.

      http://instagram.com/airserbia

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    5. it looks better on ATRs because the lettering is above the windows, not across them. so much more elegant. that was my criticism of the AS livery from the start, thank god they finally came round to their senses. the 319s should be repainted in the same fashion.

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  9. sa Turcinom samo ostro!...zub za zub oko za oko!!! nista manje i nista vise samo problem je u nasim jajarama koje su verovatno primile mito pa prodale stvar unapred.

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    1. Ништа онда, чекамо тебе да преузмеш Србију па да се осветиш свим нашим непријатељима, онако редом и по списку, онако непоткупљив и непобедив.

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  10. A319 to LHR delayed over 4 hrs today ... what is the reason??

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    1. Weather probably. All flights at LHR are delayed on average by 2 hours today

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  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/travelnews/

    (A Turke i IST...Bolece ih...Jako! Jednom kada odes...Pozdrav si! Bar je JU ostao priseban i zadrzao LHR slotove)

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    1. Ер Сербија је била приморана да напусти Истанбул јер нису имали више слотове, турска власт им је одузела и дала друге у 02.30 ујутру. Енглези никада нису правили питање.

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  12. Air Serbia should stick to SAW,its the better airport in Istanbul.

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  13. OT: LJU airport handled 1.321.100 passengers in 2013, up 10,2% compared to 2012.

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  14. Well done AS management. Thats the way to talk to Turks. If they do not provide us with good slots, give them a night slot at Nis or Kraljevo.

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  15. I would appreciate if somebody could respond back to this!
    I bought two return tickets with Air Serbia( they were cheapest) to Tel Aviv for the beginning of July. I heard from this blog that Tel Aviv route is doing really bad, so is there a chance that Air Serbia will suspend that route till then.

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    1. They won't suspend any route.
      They will make assessment in August,in order to cut off some lines as of October.
      Still, it doesn't mean they will suspend any line next winter.

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  16. Air Serbia will definitely NOT reduce/cancel any route before winter 2014/15.
    Even if Tel Aviv would do bad (what is so far only a rumour).
    I even predict that route to become very succesfull in future.



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  17. 11Feb14 JU370 BEG-ZRH total 25 Y pax B733 (20% CLF)
    11Feb14 JU375 ZRH-BEG total 52 Y pax A319 (40% CLF).
    Maybe tickets are not yet sufficiently cheaper to allow better CLF?

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    1. Zurich is doing ok, even outside the season. That route is an anomaly. Most of the days it is around 70%.
      Air Serbia should however improve its marketing strategy, the one they have now is rather bad. Also, morning flights are always performing worse than the afternoon ones because they have zero feed. This will change from March.

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    2. I fly regularly the Zurich-route and except Wednesday (when the LF is about 30-40%) the planes are between 75-85% full. I speak about the winter season. Summer is a different story.

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  18. Great, an anonymous prediction that a route will do well. Good one...

    -- Charlie

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  19. Guys, is it true that YU-ALO did not receive new seats? Only new livery?

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