Monday, September 22, 2014

Hogan: Air Serbia to the US with A330s

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.

48 comments:

  1. So who will travel to Belgrade from the US? Tourists?

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    1. Transfer passengers?

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    2. The very important sentence from the interview I think is this one "The Etihad CEO and Vice Chairman of Air Serbia notes a ten year development strategy for the Serbian carrier has been made...."

      Long term planning is vital for a successful airline business, and Hogan and Etihad do it well for Air Serbia so far.
      So glad, and best of luck to all exYu airlines.

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    3. Well US people do not know where Latvia or Uzbekistan is, still they have direct links.

      I do not believe that those flights are going to materialize for sure, but saying there is no demand is simply not true.

      First of all, Serbian and Yugoslav diaspora is more or less new. And there aren't just "few" Serbs.

      Second, Serbs won't be the only one who would fly, I think there will be Bosnians, Croats, Albanians, Slovens, Bulgarians etc. So in further discussion, try mentioning them as well. I hope Croats and Albanians in US would not mind flying with something that has name Serbia on it.

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    4. Last 15-20 years I frequented OS's YYZ-VIE flights. It never seem to amaze me how many people continue on to Serbia,Croatia and especially Bosnia (virtual monopoly for them). Now, my observations are based only on one flight, usually during high season so they might be skewed. Also, many many times I was at the airport waiting for some friend or family member. Every single time, I saw several familiar faces (Toronto is city of 4.5M), heard many people speaking our language etc.

      All I'm trying to say is that with a good regional network connecting BEG with other larger centres in Balkans and further east plus some tourists and business (to a lesser degree) it could work. Hopefully they'll be able to lower prices at the beginning to gain the foothold. I think that OS makes killing on it now, I came back on Aug 17 and the flight was overbooked by 22. Three of us were give 600euro, hotel and transfer and rebooked on tomorrow's flight.Ticket agent told me that situation was the same on every flight since Aug 10 and will continue for some time. What's also interesting is that on that day every single flight out of Europe to YYZ was overbooked.

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    5. So it makes you feel better about some aviation enthusiasts (not normal population of Serbia) if you start doing some silly predictions that you yourself do not believe in?

      Does it make you feel better to say that no one wants to visit Serbia (wtf) ?

      And one question. Are you the guy who posted these "projections" ?

      And projections for 2014

      2014
      Belgrade - 3.83 million passengers
      Zagreb - 2.55 million passengers

      And projections for 2015

      Belgrade - 4.13 million passengers
      Zagreb - 3.25 million passengers

      found them here:

      http://exyuaviation.blogspot.com/2013/12/wizz-air-leads-ljubljana-airport.html

      The very same person who posted those projections assumed that they will all come to Zagreb because of the terminal, now you are talking about terminal, so who knows...

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  2. A no brainier really and widely expected given the commonality of the current single-aisle fleet.

    2-3 A330s can be expected on lease until the business case for long haul flights proves itself. A350 order could follow thereafter.

    JFK, YYZ initially, probably followed by ORD. I would not be surprised to see PEK at some stage - but also certain points flown on behalf of EY, as HM is doing now to HKG and CDG. JNB is high on that list given very restrictive bilaterals between UAE and South Africa while Serbia has rights since the '90s.

    All in all, ahub and spoke development in the making...

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    1. Seriously? JFK, YYZ, ORD, PEK? On what basis? All those transfer passengers through Belgrade?

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    2. I'm thinking A330 NEO long term. It's chepaer than A350 XWB and a perfect fit for JU.

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    3. @ Seriously? JFK, YYZ, ORD, PEK? On what basis? All those transfer passengers through Belgrade?

      That's what a hub and spoke system is... transit passengers - collect them at one point, bring them to a central hub and disperse them onwards to their destinations. DXB does not need 97% of direct link it has, yet it flies them, daily mainly...

      BEG can become hub and first real steps have already been made. JU has done many things right, though teething problems remain - such as punctuality.

      My bigger concern is BEG airport size at this point, while luring pax to these far flung destinations with attractive fares and short transit times - with the admittedly good on-board JU product, should not be too difficult with EY's mighty help.

      But as someone pointed out, all is not done, a lot of work remains if this is to see the light of day. I personally think that long-haul will be introduced more for eventual EY benefit than JU.

      Just look at HM, they don't need half of the destinations they fly, yet they are serving them, and making money according to last financial reports.

      So lets wait for the end of 2015 - if it happens, hey spotting will come much better at BEG :)))

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  3. Off topic but still interesting:

    Al Baker has confirmed his interest in the Italian carrier Meridiana which is based in Olbia. If I am not mistaken this could be the first time he said that they were actually interested in an airline and not merely monitoring the situation.

    In my opinion, if they go for this, it will not be because it is a good business move but because they want to prevent Etihad from bringing Alitalia back to life. Also let's not forget that Qatar is the richest country in the world and they have been pumping money like crazy into their aviation sector. If this happens, it will be interesting to see what impact it has on Air Serbia as well as on any future privatisation attempts of Croatia Airlines.

    http://247.libero.it/focus/30316745/1/qatar-salver-meridiana-da-doha-ci-interessa/

    http://www.air-journal.fr/2014-09-22-qatar-airways-sinteresse-a-meridiana-5115696.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

    As fas as today's topic goes, Hogan said it himself, the numbers have to add and the new bilateral has to be put in place. This could take years so...

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  4. One more important step to stretching wings outside Europe to AIR SERBIA. One more reason to be happy!
    Rodney son & associated. Kraljevo /// Sydney

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  5. So the new discussion should be: is it going to be A330-200 or A330-300 for Air Serbia? Etihad has both.

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    1. It will be A330-300, Hogan said it before.

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    2. Hope it will NOT be in Etihad's configuration, they have A333 in sparse 3 class with some 231 seats, that's less than LOT 788 with 252 seats in 3 class (Y+ instead of F) and 788 has lower trip cost.

      Air Serbia should probably go with two class, perhaps 18-24 seats in J and everyone else in Y.

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    3. Pretty much. F is a complete waste here. Possibly, they could go for Y+ long term like LOT.

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  6. What other paperwork is outstanding? Are ALPA and Delta onboard this time? Did DoT say anything about this? Is US likely to agree on bilateral given the circumstances? Any outstanding paperwork with Canada?

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    1. Wow, surprised no one responded to most important question here. Without approvals, all the other comments are just a pipe dream. I'd hate to see Serbia drop the ball and put other interests ahead, as this could postpone approvals indefinitely.

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  7. OT: Hong Kong from Belgrade just 403€! Wot! http://budjet.guru/2014/09/fly-from-belgrade-to-hong-kong-for-just-403eur-roundtrip/

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    1. jav1 mi kad bude nešto do Singapura tako. Air Serbia na long haulu mora da se pozicionira kao star alliance killer :)

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  8. What a joke! yesterday friends flew SVO-BEG-TIV and their luggage didn't arrive to destination. Today it didn't show up either (despite 3 flights BEG-TIV) so what kind of leading regional airline are we talking about!!?? ... JU lost and found in Belgrade don't know what they are doing; there are hundreds of laying bags next to carousel #1 at Beg arrivals ...

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    1. Why didn't your friends just fly SVO-TIV with Aeroflot directly or choose one from handful of airlines flying from DME to TIV?

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    2. I influenced them as a patriot to fly via BEG telling them that JU improved their service and are worth a try...I was wrong!

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    3. Look guys, if losing your bags on JU flights is such a safe bet, why not get travel insurance (or use a credit card which comes with those perks) and just cash it in every single time? You can get those in Serbia as well, they pay out something in the vicinity of $200 for the delay, and more if bags are lost (or delayed for an extended period of time), and that's all over the money you get from the airline.

      I use it every single time, alas, my bags arrive with me...

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  9. I am a Croat and I live in Ljubljana. I wouldn't mind flying air serbia if the price is competitive. I normally drive to Venice and from there on. It is great to land home. The prices in Lj are awful.

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    1. Finally, a voice of reason ! And that is the point ... it doesn't matter whether it's full service, LCC, charter, bus, car or whatever ... if the price is right and it suits your purpose, then that is what the smart consumer takes into his/her consideration set ... Not what flag flies on the tail of an aircraft or the license plate on the vehicle ....

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    2. In my opinion 90% of people that fly economy and pay for it themselves look at the price first. After that comes the ease and length of transfer (I pay more for my parents for example to avoid huge airport-it's easier for them, they are old). All this other staff is not applicable in a most of the cases. Of course provided that the company is considered as safe and established airline.

      When I flew on company dime or if I had $ to fly business class I would look at some other factors like service quality, availability of lounges, airport you transfer in etc. because in those case couple hundreds or thousands more or less doesn't make a huge difference

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    3. Im a Macedonian - also wouldn't mind flying Air Serbia on long haul - price, transfer and take off time are what's important 2 me - not the name of a country in the name of a carrier that would bring me wherever.
      an A330 would b 1 more argument to fly Air Serbia because of their 2-4-2 sitting.
      ps
      no flights at 6 am for me- thank you very much.

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    4. You are right I look at departure times as well and I see how it can be a deciding factor for someone. But I think you'll agree that even that is to same extent price dependant. All things being equal, for $50 you might say forget it but for $200 you are lot more likely to set your clock couple of hours before.

      All I'm trying to say that there is a small portion of flying public that will fly or not fly with them no matter what (some people on this blog probably fall in one of those two categories). Everybody else (and I think this is big majority) they are going to have to win over with first with price and then with departure time, service onboard, connection times etc. Most of the people I know tend to swallow their nationalistic pride when it suits them and (especially in NA) I have a feeling this is closely connected to ones personal finances.

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  10. There is much that Air Serbia still needs to do going forward. However, let's not forget what has happened in a very short period of time. The few haters that simply can't help themselves by commenting on this site, neglect the fact that JU has increased its numbers by 70% so far - that's nearly an additional 1m passengers. An additional 1m passengers must see some value and benefit in having chosen Air Serbia - they can't be all wrong. We aren't talking about an extra 20 or 30 thousand people who were conned into travelling....

    So let's get real with the comments ....

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  11. OT: today BEG-SOF 65PAX

    BEG-BNX 63 PAX

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    1. So what ? Are we now going find the number of passengers on specific flights so newsworthy ?

      Geez, if you are struggling for things to do, I've a garden full of rubbish that needs cleaning ...

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    2. If BEG-BNX 63 PAX was on a Saab 2000, that would result in a LF of 126%!!!

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    3. Ma nije baš svaki dan badnji dan, negde će se nešto morati skratiti..

      Upravo se i postavljaju ovakvi rezultati, jer nisu uobičajeni.. Npr Prag je uvek odličan..

      Neka malo skrate, nek se lf konsoliduje.. Ne fali ništa

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    4. @7:39: from the bottom of my heart: bite me. And sry it was for the 21st of sept. not the 22nd

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  12. Mnogo je glupo sto ce dobiti A333 bolje da su dobili B789 ali se nadam da ce posle poruciti barem 2-3 A350-900 XWB umesto A330NEO sto bi za mene bila katastrofaa =D.
    Znaci sad ce se leteti za ZBAA-KORD-CYYZ bilo bi dobro leteti i za KLAX ali kad je A333 mali i ako AB leti leti sa A332 =D
    INN-NS

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  13. If you ask an American tourist if they will fly with Air Serbia from the US to Europe and make a connection in Belgrade they will probably tell you that they "don't want to fly on Air Siberia and go through Russia" Just like may Americans can't tell the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia.

    Air Serbia will be only used by the Serbian Diaspora.
    Croatian and Albanians will most likely go with the American carriers to other destinations in the EU then connect to Pristina, Split, Zagreb, Dubrovnik.

    Business people will look for what alliance the line is connected with and what points they can collect as well as the reputation and service.

    Their best bet is to just run a Summer schedule to keep the aircraft full with Serbians wanting to visit family during the summer. The other times of year will be money losers.

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    1. "American tourist", or an Average Joe almost anywhere, will get the cheapest ticket on Expedia or ask their local travel agent for the best deal - commissions come in play here. Rarely will they get really into which airline they're flying if connection time is decent.

      Pax who choose and pick have a whole different set of criteria, and you get to lure them with top notch service, but they first need to hear about you from reviews, travel reports and such.

      Finally, business pax will primarily choose an airline from an alliance they picked some time ago, just for miles if not for reputation. Also, they already have FF status elsewhere and will not care to earn it with EY Guest unless they are matched instantly. Lounges are a serious issue here. Sure, BEG and AUH offer lounges at par with competition at those airports, but what's with every other airport out there? This is a battle already lost for JU, until/if ever it joins one of three major alliances. It will be hard to earn their loyalty, it's going to be more of ad hoc choices in the beginning.

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    2. True, average American tourist has never heard of Serbia but chance of them going anywhere past " Vegas baby" or Cancun is slim to none. So the fact that thwy will not use these flights is immaterial. However, imigrants from all the neighbouring countries pkus some tourists would be their target group. Is it goi g to be enough? I gurss we'll see.

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  14. I am montenegrin and i would like mgx to fly to new york from tivat-and then to other parts of the balkans with mgx. germans have adria...the arabs have ju and in the us they dont like it to much but with our company they would almost 100 % fly with us..of cours if we had a longhaul aircraft-we are the most progressing country in the balkans right now and the minorities have all the rights they need..we are a fantastic,inteligent,brave and honest people..

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  15. Of course you are. You are Serbian. If I manage to sell my plot of land in Donje Zdravinje near Prokuplje, I might buy it. Be patient with me.

    vlada kinderlada

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  16. Hello everyone, I am doing my bachelors dissertation on Air Serbia and it's competitiveness in the airline industry and would appreciate it if you could fill out a customer satisfaction questionnaire. Thanks! Links below : https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RTX5XM9

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  17. Don't forget that also the Bulgarians are starting to fly in April 2015 to NY and Chicago.

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