|Air Serbia and Adria to battle for transit passengers on Tirana route|
Air Serbia expects to attract a significant number of transit passengers as flights between Belgrade and Tirana are to resume for the first time in six years on September 23. The Serbian carrier is set to operate the route three times per week with a 66-seat ATR72 aircraft, becoming only the second airline in the former Yugoslavia, besides Adria Airways, to operate services to the Albanian capital. In a statement, the CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, said, “The re-introduction of services to Tirana is an exciting and significant addition to our regional network. The new services will offer our guests from Tirana increased travel options and enhanced connections over our Belgrade hub to 38 business and leisure destinations across the Balkan region, Europe and the Mediterranean”. He added, “The new flights will support trade ties between Serbia and Albania, with Tirana standing as one of the emerging commercial and business centres in Southeast Europe”.
Air Serbia’s predecessor, Jat Airways, suspended flights between the two capitals in 2008 as part of a cost cutting scheme, with the route deemed unprofitable at the time. The playing field at Tirana Airport is somewhat different this time around. Albania’s national carrier, Albanian Airlines, ceased operations in 2011 while the country’s largest airline, Belle Air, collapsed in December last year. This has given other airlines an opportunity to attract transit passengers from Tirana through their respective hubs. The CEO of Tirana Airport, Rolf Castro-Vasquez said, “We are very pleased to be launching this route. We believe that the benefits will include stimulation of commercial trade between Albania and Serbia, and will bring an additional value to our airport and the economy in general”.
With Air Serbia’s arrival, Adria Airways loses its exclusivity as the only EX-YU airline serving the city, with both vying for transit passengers. However, Adria has already situated itself as one of the leading airlines in Albania with further plans to grow. This year the Slovenian carrier inaugurated direct flights from Tirana to Frankfurt, complementing its existing Ljubljana service. In a recent statement, Adria’s CEO, Mark Anžur, said, “Tirana is very important to us and we will continue developing it. It is likely that we will launch flights from Tirana to Brussels and Paris next year”. Flight details for the new Belgrade - Tirana service can be found here.