|Air Serbia evaluating feasibility of transatlantic services|
Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, has said that no decision has been made on launching flights to the United States but confirmed the airline is continuing to evaluate the feasibility of transatlantic services. Speaking to the “Flightglobal” magazine recently, Mr. Kondić said, “No decision has been made. There has been a lot of talk about it. We haven’t actually said anything about it”. He added, “The government is a shareholder in the business and they've asked us to look at the feasibility of serving North America. We are in throes of doing studies and analysis. Now, simultaneously, and not to prejudice the outcome of what analysis is going to show us, we've asked the government to make sure everything regulatory, that would enable us to fly, if we decide to fly, is in place”.
The CEO of Serbia’s national carrier previously told “The Australian” newspaper, in an interview published on February 20, that the airline hopes to establish transatlantic flights within twelve to fourteen months. Serbia and the United States signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement on Tuesday, paving the way for future services. The Serbian government has pushed for flights to the States since Etihad Airways took a 49% stake in Jat Airways and renamed it to Air Serbia in August 2013. The government has been continuously pushing for services to New York and Toronto. On the other hand, Etihad Airways’ CEO, James Hogan, said exactly a year ago that Chicago will likely become Air Serbia’s first long haul destination. “Air Serbia will connect the entire region. We plan to expand our network based on the Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin diaspora”, Mr. Hogan said at the time. He added, “We will launch new routes and Chicago is the first destination we are thinking of”. However, Etihad’s CEO has continuously said that services would be launched “only if the numbers stack up”.
Speaking to “Flightglobal”, Mr. Kondić noted that Air Serbia’s analysis of future transatlantic flights has been based around Airbus A330-200s. The CEO said the airline would follow a similar process in leasing the aircraft as it did with other members of its fleet. “We’d go in and see what aircraft are available within the [Etihad] family, that’s the synergies that come from being part of a family. It would be a remiss not to do that - so we’d see what aircraft might be available, and of course we’d go out to the market”, Mr. Kondić concluded.