Preparations for the launch of Air Serbia's first transatlantic operations in 24 years are entering their final stages, with the carrier's leased Airbus A330-200 aircraft set to make its first appearance in Belgrade this week. The airline's CEO, Dane Kondić, says, "The finish line is in sight and many, many people from the wider Balkans region and the United States are eagerly awaiting for the first flight. Our strategy in 2016 is to strengthen the network further by taking advantage of Belgrade’s position as the gateway to the Balkans and capturing regional traffic flows to the United States". The A330-200 is expected to be ferried to Belgrade from Abu Dhabi this Wednesday for a short stay before returning to the Emirati capital for cabin configuration. The 254-seat jet will then return to Belgrade in early June in order to prepare for its first commercial service to New York on June 23.
Air Serbia has already said that sales for its new service have "exceeded expectations". The airline's largest seller in North America, travel agency Axioma Travel, notes that sales in the US have picked up following initial reluctance from the public. "In the beginning the fares were above market rates and there were few sales. However, in the last month the fares were adjusted downward by about 35% and now they are quite reasonable and we have quite a bit of interest and much better sales. Once the first flight takes off, the demand will increase significantly", Axioma Travel President and CEO, Fedja Stepanovich, told EX-YU Aviation News. He added, "Most of our customers are outside the New York City metro area and these flights will ultimately appeal to a small portion of the total diaspora in the USA and Canada. A future interline agreement will surely boost those numbers. Air Serbia has goals of selling not only to the ethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia but also to destinations beyond".
The Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, noted yesterday that sales for the flights are performing better than expected, when questioned on the matter. "Sales are 70% higher than was expected. It would have been even better, but people are hesitant until they see the aircraft", Mr Vučić said. Meanwhile, Air Serbia has expanded its codeshare agreement with partner Air Berlin to points in the United States in the lead-up to its New York launch. Mr Kondić said, "It is our belief that air services should offer travellers convenience, choice and flexibility, which is why I'm happy to say that we have also recently expanded our codeshare cooperation with Air Berlin to offer travellers easy connections over Dusseldorf to Boston and San Francisco. This brings to a total of five US cities that we now serve with one-stop codeshare flights over Germany, including Miami, Chicago and New York".
Due to an ongoing server issue, EX-YU Aviation News has temporarily reverted to its previous design in order to allow access to news. Apologies for any inconvenience.