Air Serbia has seen a spike in sales for its upcoming transatlantic service to New York, following the arrival of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft earlier this month and the attainment of all necessary regulatory approvals. According to broadcaster "RTS", the airline has sold over 12.000 tickets for the flights so far, with some 1.000 tickets purchased over the past few weeks. Travel agents in the United States have previously told EX-YU Aviation News that ticket sales have improved following initial reluctance from the public due to a lack of an interline agreement with a domestic carrier and pending government approvals, however, these issues have since been rectified. On the other hand, travel agents in Serbia note the route's biggest drawcard is its relatively low return fares.
With just a few weeks to go until the June 23 launch of the Belgrade - New York service, the Serbian carrier is putting the finishing touches to its A330 in Abu Dhabi where it is undergoing a cabin re-fit. Early next week, the aircraft is expected to be issued Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An STC is a type certificate issued when an applicant has received FAA approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design. The STC approves not only the modification but also how that modification affects the original design. The process is expected to begin this week and take just over seven days to complete, after which the aircraft will be flown back to Belgrade.
Meanwhile, Air Serbia and its part-owner Etihad Airways have agreed to a contingent wet-lease under which Etihad may wet-lease aircraft to Air Serbia in the event of maintenance problems or other issues that might take its A330 out of service for any length of time. Therefore, Etihad has applied for a Statement of Authorisation with the United States Department of Transportation that would allow it to wet-lease an appropriate widebody jet to Air Serbia on an "as-needed basis". The Emirati carrier has an Airbus A340-500 stored in Abu Dhabi to act as a replacement aircraft when required. A wet-lease is a leasing arrangement whereby the lessor provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to another airline.