|Flights between Belgrade and Zagreb to resume after more than 23 years|
Air Serbia has announced the launch of a double daily service between Belgrade and Zagreb from December 12. The new flights mark the resumption of commercial traffic between these two cities following a 23-year hiatus. The Serbian carrier will operate both a morning and afternoon departure from Belgrade to the Croatian capital, primarily targeting transit passengers who will continue their journey onwards from its hub. In a statement, the airline says, “The new service will offer business travellers excellent connections through Air Serbia’s Belgrade hub at Nikola Tesla International Airport to popular destinations across the airline’s network including Athens, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Tel Aviv, Moscow and Larnaca, and key destinations across the Balkan region including Skopje, Tirana, Sofia, Bucharest, Tivat, Podgorica and Sarajevo”. Both flights will operate with a 66-seat ATR72 aircraft.
Air Serbia faces no direct competition on the route. The airline has been expanding aggressively throughout the region with the recent launch of flights to Tirana, as well as an upcoming frequency boost to Ljubljana and capacity increase to Podgorica starting December. Commenting on the new route launch, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “The introduction of services to Zagreb is a significant and welcome addition to the airline’s rapidly growing network. The flights will meet the growing demand of business and leisure travellers regularly commuting between these two capitals and will save them considerable time in comparison to travel by train or car”. He added, “The new service will also provide two-way connections over Belgrade between Croatia, mainland Europe and key global destinations”. Recently, Air Serbia’s Chariman, Siniša Mali, said, “Our goal is to eventually fly twice daily to all cities in the region but before we do that we need to connect the last two cities in the former Yugoslavia that we do not fly to yet - Zagreb and Pristina”. From December the airline will already offer double daily flights to Ljubljana, Podgorica and Zagreb.
The new service marks a major milstone in the former Yugoslavia as its two largest cities will once again be served by commercial flights - the first since the dissolution of the federation. The last scheduled flight between Zagreb and Belgrade was operated by JAT Yugoslav Airlines on August 6, 1991. The route enjoys a long history with JAT’s predecessor, Aeroput, maintaining flights between the two cities since February 1928. With the introduction of this new service, Air Serbia will now have a considerable presence in Croatia. Apart from Zagreb, the airline will also operate seasonal flights to Dubrovnik, Split and Pula, all of which are set to see frequency upgrades this summer. Their resumption will be brought forward to the very start of the 2015 summer season in late March. In its last year of normal operations, Yugoslav Airlines was already recording a significant drop in passenger numbers across its domestic network. However, in 1990 JAT carried 340.000 passengers between Serbia and Croatia. Travel between the two republics accounted for 34% of all domestic air travel.
Flight details for the new Belgrade – Zagreb service can be found here.