|Air Serbia focuses on core network but eyes future growth|
The CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, says the airline is currently focused on its core network but will look for further growth opportunities. Speaking to "Gulf Business", Mr Kondić noted there are a handful of destinations the airline could serve, highlighting cities in Italy. "There’s probably half-a-dozen to a dozen points that we could cover that we haven’t started flying to yet. In Italy, we don’t fly to Florence or Venice, for example. Each airline [Etihad Partners] is focusing on core networks now, then we’ll look for incremental opportunities", Mr Kondić said. Air Serbia will add new destinations to its network this summer for the first time since December 2013, with the introduction of flights to Hamburg, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Ohrid and New York.
Commenting on the upcoming launch of transatlantic flights, Mr Kondić said the New York route comes as a result of the continued cooperation among the Etihad Airways Partners-member airlines. "The partnership is coming to life. We’re using an aircraft from Jet Airways, having our pilots trained by Alitalia, and crew in Abu Dhabi", the CEO said. The airline's first Airbus A330-200 jet is scheduled to arrive in Belgrade in May. Despite being on lease from Jet Airways, the aircraft will be decked out in Air Serbia's livery. "Our primary focus in 2016 is the launch of transatlantic flights to the US. We expect strong interest to come from countries of the former Yugoslavia. This is good for business, because it can strengthen our hub at Nikola Tesla Airport and generate significant revenue", Mr Kondić said in an interview to the "National Business Review" over the weekend.
Air Serbia's CEO noted that the arrival of the wide-body A330 will result in greater freight capacity as well. "This year we take delivery of our first wide-body A330 which offers a significant increase in cargo capacity compared to the narrow-body single-aisle A319s and A320s, so there is a lot of potential to carry greater amounts of freight", he said. In 2015, Air Serbia saw growth in the total volume of freight and mail flown, which increased to 3.756 tonnes, up 39% on the year before. As the airline prepares to expand its network over the next few months, it has also inked a new codeshare partnership agreement with Israel's national carrier El Al, bringing its total number of active codeshare agreements to sixteen. As a result, El Al will place its designator code and flight number onto Air Serbia's services between Tel Aviv and Belgrade. “Codeshares are a fundamental part of Air Serbia’s long-term growth strategy and we are delighted to launch this agreement and begin an exciting and mutually-beneficial partnership with El Al. Tel Aviv is an important destination for Air Serbia and this cooperation with El Al will enable us to grow our business in Israel", Mr Kondić said.