|Belgrade - New York busiest US O&D market|
Air Serbia will begin five weekly flights from Belgrade to New York's JFK Airport next June with Sabre's demand data estimating that 143.000 O&D (origin and destination) passengers flew between Serbia and the United States last year, or some 392 per day. According to the "Routes News" development magazine, this is a growing market with traffic increasing by an average annual rate of 5.7% between 2005 and 2014, with growth of 23.3% last year alone. New York accounted for the largest number of passengers flying between Serbia and the United States last year. Combined, JFK Airport and Newark Airport accounted for 36.175 passengers between these two markets in 2014 (26.234 from/to JFK and 9.941 from/to Newark). The Big Apple is followed by Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles and Washington.
Largest US O&D markets to/from Serbia
|City||PAX||Change vs 2013 (%)||Change vs 2005 (%)|
|New York (JFK+EWR)||36.175||▲ 21.6||▲ 65.2|
|Chicago (ORD)||24.589||▲ 12.0||▲ 38.0|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||10.896||▲ 37.4||▲ 31.5|
|Washington (IAD)||9.315||▲ 23.3||▲ 59.2|
The Serbian carrier hopes to draw passengers to Belgrade from the entire US. In order to do so, it will need a strong US partner which will carry passengers from points in the country to New York and viceversa. Etihad Airways' biggest partner in the States is American Airlines, with which it codeshares on a wide range of routes. From New York, Air Serbia's part-owner has its flight numbers and designator code on twenty of American Airlines' domestic routes, including Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Norfolk (Virginia), Orlando, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. Furthermore, it codeshares with jetBlue from New York on 35 domestic destinations. Air Serbia will also look to stimulate the Balkan market in attracting passengers to its transatlantic service. The airline has said that flights will be timed so as to offer connections for passengers heading to and from the Balkans and Southeastern Europe, but has particularly emphasised connections for travellers from Athens, Istanbul and Tirana.
Air Serbia is still awaiting regulatory approval for its first long haul venture. Furthermore, Belgrade Airport still poses an issue for the new service. Last week, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, said, "Right now the biggest problem is what the US call TSA (Transportation Security Administration, in charge of safety of all US flights), There are some things that need to be done at Belgrade Airport. This is something which requires major investment in the airport itself. Air Serbia is more or less ready for these flights but the airport is still not ready. This is something that we need to do. Currently, if I may say so, the brunt of the job lies on Air Serbia's shoulders, but we haven't completed our part of the job in terms of readiness of the airport to operate such flights". However, Mr Vučić noted that these issues will be resolved in time for flights to begin from June next year.