A month in from launching its first transatlantic service, Air Serbia has recorded solid results on the route so far. According to Serbia's Prime Minister, the carrier has registered an average cabin load factor of 84.1% on the 254-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which is utlised five time per week to New York. Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, conceded that, as a newcomer, it is difficult to establish brand awareness on the crowded transatlantic travel market. Speaking to "Travel Weekly" recently, Mr Kondić said, "Flying as a young brand is no easy feat, but we're lucky in that we have a fairly sizable diaspora in the US. There are 200.000 people who are Serbian and of Serbian descent coupled with just as many people who are from the remainder of the former Yugoslav federation". The airline has run a number of promotional campaigns to attract new passengers to the service, particularly in the former Yugoslav markets.
Local travel agents in the United States, who specialise in sales to the former Yugoslavia, have told EX-YU Aviation News that ticket sales and interest in flights from New York to Belgrade have considerably increased in the lead-up to the service launch and spiked some thirty days ago when the route was inaugurated. According to the airline's CEO, Air Serbia also plans to attract more tourists from the United States but also lure travellers heading to the Adriatic coast. "As Serbia grows as a leisure destination, we hope to draw more passengers. Read many publications; they will tell you Serbia is a great destination to go out and see. We are positioning Belgrade as a gateway into the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Montenegro".
However, solid passenger numbers do not necessarily translate into profitability. According to Serbia's Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, the route will turn a profit in three year's time. "We have a significant number of Albanians using the service and we will look to capitalise on this", Mr Vučić said, hinting at the possibility of the resumption of flights between Belgrade and Pristina. "The target is to reach an average cabin load factor of 90% in the foreseeable future", he added. On the other hand, the President and CEO of the Etihad Aviation Group, which Air Serbia is a member of, James Hogan, has said the financial investment in launching the flights was minimal due to the support of other group members. Another way in which Air Serbia is looking to increase revenues on the route is by carrying a larger share of freight. The carrier's A330 has a belly-hold cargo capacity of fifteen tonnes or forty square metres per flight. “Since launching the flights, we have seen strong demand from postal services for carrying mail across the Atlantic, including from authorities in Serbia, as well as Slovenia and Bulgaria, and the United States Postal Service", Mr Kondić said. He added, "We are also now transporting freight to the United States from Serbia and all over the region, including Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia and Turkey, showing that our new flight is already enabling significant economic activity and trade growth”.