|Air Serbia rules out expansion until load factor improves|
Air Serbia is on track to outperform its 2014 profit figures and passenger numbers while maintaining its current network size until its average load factor improves. Speaking to the media in the United Kingdom some time ago, the carrier’s CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “We will improve our profit and are on target to improve our passenger numbers”. The CEO added that he does not expect for passenger growth to keep up at a rate of 26%, as was the case during the first quarter of the year, but is encouraged by the strong results posted during the first three months of 2015, which saw the airline handle 453.000 passengers and revenue soar 44% to 39 million euros.
Mr Kondić noted that the carrier will work on improving its average cabin load factor before expanding its operations. “It was always envisaged that we would go hard at trying to drive our load factor. Last year we closed at 70% load factor. It shows there is plenty of room to grow in the existing network”, Mr Kondić said. He added, “Unless there are specific opportunities that present themselves, we really need to go fitter and faster with what we have. Once we get to that 80% plus average load factor, then we can look at expansion”.
The airline’s CEO explained that transfer passengers formed the basis of Air Serbia’s significant passenger growth last year. “Our growth from 2013-14 was an incremental one million passengers and the majority of that came from transfer passengers, traveling from, say, Athens to Dusseldorf via Belgrade. Now to do that, you’ve got to have a network that lends itself to that”, Mr Kondić said. He concluded, “The flying is largely in the two to three hour range, and that’s where we think the sweet spot is. So that’s what we do. We connect people north, south, east and west, and that’s how we get efficiencies in network and aircraft utilisation”.