|Serbian Prime Minister announces five weekly Belgrade - New York flights for 2016|
The Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, announced yesterday that the country's national carrier, Air Serbia, will launch flights from Belgrade to New York next year which will operate five times per week. The comments were made following a meeting of the airline's Supervisory Board, the PM said. In a statement to the "B92" network, Mr Vučić noted, "It is very important that we held a meeting of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board, and that, in addition to the excellent results which have made it the leading carrier in the region, we concluded that we will fly to New York five times per week next year". He added, "Even from Athens there are no flights to New York despite the city being double the size of Belgrade. From Belgrade there will be flights to New York, not to mention that we already have on board Wi-Fi and other services which set our airline apart from other carriers in the region". Athens is in fact served seasonally from New York by Delta Air Lines.
Air Serbia itself has not committed to any dates or frequencies to the United States. However, in February, the airline's CEO, Dane Kondić, told "The Australian" daily that he hoped to realise transatlantic flights within the next twelve to fourteen months, but noted, "In terms of Belgrade and Serbia re-emerging in the world, it’s a natural ambition for the country to want to reconnect to many of the markets and places that they used to fly but Air Serbia has no aspirations to fly all over the world the way Jat Airways used to". Later on, in May, the airline said it was studying potential flights to the US but that no decision has been made.
In August, Air Serbia applied for a permit from the United States Department of Transportation (DoT), stating, "While Air Serbia initially proposes to provide scheduled air service from Belgrade to New York, Chicago and Miami pursuant to a codeshare arrangement with Air Berlin, Serbia's recent achievement of Category 1 status under the FAA's International Air Safety Assessment Program makes it possible for Air Serbia eventually to provide its own service to the United States”. Caitlin Harvey, from the DoT, recently told EX-YU Aviation News that Air Serbia's application is "under active Department consideration", adding that the processing time for applications varies from case to case. According to the Serbian government, an Airbus A330-200 will be leased for the flights, at a cost of 500.000 USD per month. Last September, the President and CEO of Etihad Airways and Vice Chairman of Air Serbia, James Hogan, said the jet could be transferred to the Serbian airline from the Etihad Airways group.