|Air Serbia promises "best transatlantic long haul product in Europe"|
Air Serbia will offer a new on board product on its two-class cabin Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which it will utilise on flights from Belgrade to New York JFK Airport from June 1, 2016. The carrier's CEO, Dane Kondić, said the product would differ from that of its short haul fleet. "I can reveal some of the planning that has already gone into this and, dare I say, we will probably have the best product flying transatlantic from Europe. We are fortunate that we have a one aircraft operation as opposed to a forty or fifty fleet aircraft operation. Our positioning is very much such that we are a boutique offering in Europe and as a boutique offering we can bespoke what we have and that will give us an enormous competitive advantage", Mr Kondić said. He added, "However people have been pleasantly surprised with our offering today, which by and large is the very best business class offerings in Europe, that is exactly what people can expect with our long haul offering".
Air Serbia is currently considering lease options for the A330-200 with Etihad Airways Partner airlines as well as with other external companies. The Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, noted that the aircraft will likely come from an Indian company (Jet Airways). Jet Airways operates eight 254-seat (eighteen in business and 236 seats in economy class) Airbus A330-200 aircraft, one of which is on lease to Etihad. The President and CEO of Etihad Airways and the Vice Chairman of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board, James Hogan, added, "Another advantage is that we have so many Serbians at Etihad, we will be able to bring Serbians back into Air Serbia that have long haul experience, because you have to have experience within your cabin crew ratio. So, by combining the Air Serbia team, as well as Serbians within Etihad coming back, we are going to have experience in the cabin for long haul services. It's going to be outstanding".
|Jet Airways A330-200 product (buisness left, economy right)|
Air Serbia will become the first airline from the former Yugoslavia to operate transatlantic services since the country's breakup and the first to operate medium to long-range wide-body aircraft. Serbia's Prime Minister let slip that the carrier is considering Beijing as its second long haul destination sometime in the future. Flights to JFK are expected to go on sale as soon as the airline is issued government approval. "We are finalising the approval process. November 6 was the sixtieth day since we applied for approval. We have contacted our attorneys in the United States and there is nothing questionable about it. We are just waiting for someone to put a stamp on the documentation. We are expecting that to happen any day now. The deadline expired last Friday, so this will happen in a matter of days", Mr Kondić concluded.
Belgrade - US flights
The first commercial service between Belgrade and the United States was launched in 1963 by Pan Am from New York. With the arrival of the Boeing 707, JAT Yugoslav Airlines had the ability to launch services to the US as well, which was home to a significant Yugoslav diaspora. Starting with three weekly flights in 1970, over time, JAT would introduce daily services to the States. The Belgrade - Zagreb - New York service was introduced on June 15, 1976. Charter flights to Chicago followed on April 10, 1980, with scheduled services commencing as early as November 4 that same year. Flights to Chicago were operated via Cleveland during the summer season. Furthermore, during the summer, JAT also operated charters to Detroit, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Scheduled flights to LA commenced on May 1, 1987. In 1989, JAT ran fourteen weekly flights to the United States. They were reduced to twelve weekly in 1990. That year, the airline handled 103.532 passengers on its services to the States, carried 4.156 tonnes of cargo and netted 65.5 million USD in earnings.
In 1990, JAT suspended its flights to Los Angeles, Detroit and Cleveland and shelved the Zagreb stopover on its transatlantic services. Furthermore, flights to New York were reduced from seven to four weekly, while Chicago flights went from four to two weekly services. On May 21, 1992, the United States introduced an embargo on all flights from and to Yugoslavia. JAT operated its last service from Chicago on May 17 and from New York on May 19. On June 3, federal police, in accordance with the US Treasury, sealed off JAT's New York office at Rockefeller Centre and ordered the airline's employees to leave. On September 18, 2003, Uzbekistan Airways launched two weekly flights from Belgrade to New York in cooperation with Jat Airways. The service, operated by a Boeing 767, would be short-lived and last just a year. This marked the last time Belgrade was connected with a scheduled non-stop air service to the United States.