|Air Serbia plans to replace aging ATRs|
Air Serbia plans to replace its turboprop fleet over the next two to three years, the carrier’s CEO, Dane Kondić, has said. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, Mr. Kondić noted that the aircraft are getting older but in terms of air worthiness they are in fine condition, having been thoroughly checked over by technical experts from the airline’s part-owner Etihad Airways just three weeks ago. The CEO said it would be easier to lease new aircraft, rather than place orders with a manufacturer, due to the time it would require to deliver them. He added that the replacement type of aircraft will be chosen when the need arises and that the decision will depend on a range of factors such as pricing and other terms and conditions.
Air Serbia currently has five 66-seat ATR 72 aircraft in its fleet with three owned ATR 72-200s and two more modern, leased -500s. The turboprops were refurbished last year with new seating covers and carpets. In addition, the airline has ten leased Airbus aircraft in its fleet with eight A319 and two A320 jets. A further ten Airbus A320neos are on order and are due for delivery from 2018 onwards. Meanwhile, four owned Boeing 737-300 aircraft have been transferred to the carrier’s dedicated charter brand Aviolet and operate in a high-density all economy layout. Since its transition from Jat Airways to Air Serbia in late October 2013, the airline’s daily fleet utilisation has doubled from just 5-6 hours to 12-13 hours.
The carriers's CEO says there are currently no plans to buy new aircraft. “As part of our normal fleet review exercise, we are constantly evaluating our future requirements, based on the five year plan we have. There are no plans at the moment to go to the market to purchase new aircraft - other than the ten A320neos we announced in November 2013”, Mr. Kondić told EX-YU Aviation News. JAT Yugoslav Airlines ordered three ATR 72s (all of which are now part of Air Serbia’s fleet) on December 16, 1987. The first landed in Belgrade on July 14, 1990 with the other two following shortly after. The first ATRs in the airline’s fleet were three smaller ATR 42s, which were leased in 1987. They were all returned to their owner upon the breakup of Yugoslavia.