Air Serbia has taken delivery of its first wide-body aircraft, an Airbus A330-200. The jet, which will carry the registration YU-ARA, touched down at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport this afternoon. The aircraft was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute and a delegation of airline representatives. On-board the flight was a group of VIP stakeholders led by Siniša Mali, Air Serbia's Chairman, and Dane Kondić, the airline's CEO. The aircraft was piloted by Davor Mišeljić, Air Serbia's Chief Operations Officer. YU-ARA will become the first wide-body passenger plane to be added to Serbia's aircraft registry since the retirement of Jat Airways' DC-10 aircraft (registered YU-AMB) in 2005. The registration process will be carried out by the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate tomorrow.
The A330 is on lease from India's Jet Airways for a five-year term. It is expected to stay in Belgrade for several days before flying back to Abu Dhabi for final preparations prior to its entry into service. This will include work on the cabin, installation of the in-flight entertainment and connectivity system, as well as certification procedures from both European and American regulators. The jet will then be ferried to the Serbian capital on June 8, after which it is planned to operate a number crew familiarisation flights. The aircraft is also expected to visit Niš Constantine the Great Airport for promotional purposes. The A330-200 will commence regular operations on June 23 when Air Serbia launches its five weekly service to New York's JFK Airport.
Speaking at a press conference following the aircraft's arrival, Mr Kondić said, "The arrival of our Airbus A330 this afternoon was a historic occasion for Air Serbia and a sign of the bright future that lies ahead of us. The A330 is a modern and fuel-efficient aircraft that opens up many growth opportunities for the airline and will allow us to launch our long-haul service to New York, greatly simplifying travel and offering the fastest connection between the Balkans and the United States" He added,. “In the coming weeks the aircraft will be completely refurbished with new business and economy cabins which, coupled with our fantastic service offering, will provide guests with an unparalleled travel experience over the Atlantic“. Mr Mali noted, “This is a massive milestone for Air Serbia and for our nation. Watching our newly-painted Airbus A330 land at its new home in Belgrade for the very first time was a proud moment for all of us, showing that Air Serbia is continuing to invest in the future of the airline and Serbia itself. Our first wide-body aircraft and the bigger cousin of our A319 and A320 jets, the A330 is a sound investment choice that will reconnect Serbia and the United States in a few short weeks, opening new channels of tourism and trade for the economy”. He added that some 11.000 seats have been sold on the Belgrade - New York service so far.
|Air Serbia crew on delivery flight|
The eight-year-old A330-200 will feature eighteen seats in business class and the remaining 236 in economy. Commenting on the on board product, Mr Kondić previously said, "We will probably have the best product flying transatlantic from Europe. People have been pleasantly surprised with our existing offering, which by and large is the very best business class offering in Europe, and that is exactly what people can expect with our long haul product". Air Serbia's long-haul business class will feature leathered fully flat bed seats (68.5 inch in length) in a 1-1-1 configuration. Furthermore, the airline will offer its premium passengers an on-demand dining and turndown service, as well as a personal in-flight entertainment system and a 2 X 32 kg baggage policy. Economy class passengers will have a choice of three meals, personal in-flight entertainment system and a 2 X 23 kg baggage policy.
• Some 11.000 tickets have been sold on the Belgrade - New York service, Mr Mali says. Aircraft to be added to the Serbian registry tomorrow.
• Chairman Mali notes that the airline aims to attract point to point, leisure and transfer passengers. He notes that the aircraft will be named. Mr Mali adds that the jet will give a significant boost to cargo capacity.
• CEO Kondić informs the press about the aircraft's upcoming cabin re-fit and other information available in the article above.
• Touchdown. The A330 landed in Belgrade with a water cannon salute. Air Serbia's CEO and the carrier's Chairman will speak to the press upon disembarking the aircraft.
• The aircraft is expected to land in Belgrade at 17.05 CEST.