|Air Serbia plans for the future|
The President and CEO of Etihad Airways and Vice Chairman of Air Serbia, James Hogan, has given further details of the Serbian carrier’s planned and much anticipated operations to the United States. In an interview to the daily “Novosti”, Mr. Hogan says transatlantic flights will operate from Belgrade with an Airbus A330 aircraft but insists numbers must first stack up. “It was important for the Serbian carrier to reposition itself and strengthen its position in Europe so we could record a profit. Of course, it is planned for Air Serbia to enter the US market. For that to happen all conditions must be met and numbers must stack up. We must have a vision and a new bilateral air agreement between Serbia and the United States must be reached”, Mr. Hogan says. Serbia, as the legal successor to Yugoslavia, last signed an Air Transport Memorandum of Understanding with the United States on June 28, 1989. Since then, no other form of bilateral cooperation in the field of aviation has been made between the two countries.
Etihad’s CEO says more time is needed for services to the States to be established but adds, “Once flights begin, the Airbus A330 will be used. Etihad has the type in its fleet and it can be transferred to Air Serbia. It’s important for the numbers to stack up and for us to choose the right moment and be ready. Regardless of whether flights launch in 2015 or 2016, we have to set off all that is necessary on the US market, such as tour operators and public relations because it is important to distinguish the company apart from the former Jat”, Mr. Hogan says. He adds, “We are not aiming for our guests to be only Serbs visiting relatives and friends in their homeland but also others such as tourists and businesspeople who will fly with Air Serbia”.
The Etihad CEO and Vice Chairman of Air Serbia notes a ten year development strategy for the Serbian carrier has been made with the aim to transform Belgrade Airport into a transit hub in the Balkans. “Our goal was to create a safe airline which is top of its class, as well as competitive, generating new jobs and above all profitability, an airline that is free of nepotism unlike before. I want to congratulate [Air Serbia CEO] Dane Kondić and his team for their hard work and dedication and I think we can all be proud of Air Serbia’s development. I say this as someone who works in the aviation industry because Air Serbia’s results are unbelievable. Today, Air Serbia is a competitive airline on the European market”. Mr. Hogan denies that Etihad’s recent acquisition of Alitalia will have an impact on Air Serbia. “These are not related. The Etihad Group is made up of nine airlines, each with its own management. I am a member of the Air Serbia board and I intend to stay and oversee all the developments”, Mr. Hogan concludes.