|Germanwings pulling out of Belgrade|
Low cost airline Germanwings will discontinue its flights from Stuttgart to Belgrade at the end of the 2014 summer season and thus suspend its operations to the Serbian capital. The airline, wholly owned by Lufthansa, was the first low cost carrier to commence operations to Belgrade back in 2008. It currently maintains three weekly flights between Stuttgart and the Serbian capital but has been hit by strong competition and declining passenger numbers. While last summer the airline competed on the route against Jat Airways’ four weekly flights, operated by an ATR72, the airline now faces daily flights by Air Serbia, operated by an Airbus A319 and codeshared by Etihad Airways and Air Berlin.
Germanwings has been progressively scaling down its operations to Belgrade. In 2012 the airline cancelled its flights from Cologne to the Serbian capital. As reported by EX-YU Aviation News earlier this year, Germanwings, together with Austrian, has been one of the hardest hit airlines from the Star Alliance group operating to Belgrade as it faces increased completion. Star Alliance member airlines have been reducing their operations to the Serbian capital this year. Adria Airways suspended its flights from Ljubljana to Belgrade in February, choosing instead to codeshare with Air Serbia. Lufthansa cancelled one of its three daily flights from Munich at the start of the 2014 summer season, while Swiss International Air Lines plans to cut down on frequencies from both Zurich and Geneva this winter. Swiss’ service from Geneva has been especially affected. Since launching flights last winter it has seen competition from both easyJet and Etihad Regional on the route. Despite bucking the trend and seeing a significant passenger surge, Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines will have to cut down on its flights from Istanbul to Belgrade from seventeen per week to two daily flights after Serbian and Turkish aviation authorities reached a deal on regulating slots and frequencies between their respective national carriers.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for Star Alliance in Belgrade. LOT Polish Airlines has this year increased its frequencies to the Serbian capital and turned its seasonal service from Warsaw to year long flights despite facing competition from Air Serbia. TAP Portugal will become the newest Star Alliance member to launch services to Belgrade as it prepares to inaugurate its flights from Lisbon on July 2. Finally, Croatia Airlines has added additional flights to its seasonal services from Split to Belgrade.