|New business model responsible for passenger growth|
The CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, has said that connecting passengers through Belgrade has played a major role in the carrier’s growth over the past year, after the airline posted a 68% increase in passenger numbers in 2014. Due to the state of the Serbian economy, the airline has developed the business model in order to rely on a broader spread of customers. Speaking to the “EY Performance” journal, Mr. Kondić said, “Growth has come from simply connecting the network - having a network where people can transfer with ease. It’s come from the person in Athens who is travelling to Dusseldorf, or the Lebanese family travelling from Amsterdam to Beirut. Compared with many other European airports, Belgrade Airport is an amazingly easy and convenient place to transfer. From the furthermost gate at one end to the other is a ten-minute walk”.
The carrier hopes to use this model to attract travellers to potential long haul flights, with the airline looking to build critical mass at Belgrade Airport necessary for such services. “We’re not there yet, but we’re certainly making progress in being a good alternative to an airport such as, say, Vienna, which has always positioned itself as a transfer airport for people flying into Central and Eastern Europe”, the CEO says. He adds that further improvements are still required, particularly on the ground. “We’ve certainly made our customer service in the air better. Improvements on the ground will come as we start to address people’s pay, rewards, remuneration, conditions and accountabilities - all those things that were not previously seen as important”.
Commenting on the carrier’s improved passenger numbers and financial performance, Air Serbia’s CEO says that the partnership between his airline and Etihad Airways has delivered broader benefits to the country. “Directly and indirectly, over 20.000 people depend on this airline. That is a pretty significant number in a country that has, unfortunately, a very high unemployment rate. The government of Serbia really wanted and needed an experienced aviation operator to partner with them. That’s what Etihad Airways brought to the table. It brought industry expertise and know-how that the government didn’t have”, Mr. Kondić explains. He concludes, “For Serbia to have a business that is growing so successfully and that has employed more than 300 people, sends a positive signal to all Serbians. We are doing this for Serbia, and we will never forget that”.