Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Air Serbia considering Kazakhstan flights


The Chairman of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board and the Mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, has said the airline is considering launching flights to Kazakhstan following talks with the regional governor of the central Asian republic's largest province of Almaty. According to Mr Mali, the service would strengthen relations between the two countries and improve business links. The talks come ahead of an official three-day state visit by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to Serbia which begins today. According to Mr Mali, further discussions on the potential new route will be held during the visit. Air Serbia has made no comments on the matter. Simmilarly, in February, Mr Mali announced that the Serbian carrier was eyeing services to Kiev and St Petersburg. The new routes were confirmed and launched several months later.

Almaty Airport is Kazakhstan's busiest, handling some five million passengers per year. The country's national carrier, Air Astana, maintains a base in the city offering flights to Europe and Asia. Several European airlines also serve Almaty, including Lufthansa, KLM, Aeroflot and Belavia, as well as Czech Airlines and Ellin Air on a seasonal basis. Serbian citizens do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan. Furthermore, Serbia is one of only a handful of European countries that do not require Kazakhstani passport holders entry visas. Others include Macedonia, Albania, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Russia. Air Serbia's part-owner, Etihad Airways, will suspend flights to Almaty, along with Larnaca, at the start of the 2016/17 winter season this October. The carrier maintained three weekly flights to Kazakhstan's largest city with an Airbus A319 aircraft.

Currently, none of the national carriers from the former Yugoslavia operate flights to central Asia. Apart from potential transfer passengers, services between Belgrade and Kazakhstan could cater for Serbian workers and engineers who are involved in the development of several major infrastructure projects in the country, although whether this could be enough to turn the potential service into reality remains to be seen. Kazakhstan will host the major bi-annual international exposition Expo in 2017 with around two to three million people expected to visit the international pavilions from June to September next year.

95 comments:

  1. Etihad suspending flights to Almaty and handing it over to Air Serbia and putting a codeshare, the same as Larnaca this winter. Perhaps?

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  2. Energoprojekt has built two metro lines in Almaty, as well as shopping centres. They are now building some big residential complex there too.

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    1. They are also active in Astana and Aktau as well.

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  3. Maybe this can been possible with two stops route Almaty and Tehran, or some Caucasus ciy (Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan)...

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  4. Can A319 make it non stop to Kazakhstan avoiding Ukraine? Football charter flights to Kazakhstan with 733 used Rostov-on-Don as fuel stop.

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    1. I don't think Ukraine is being avoided anymore.

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    2. I think eastern Ukraine, Crimea, and most of the Black Sea are still being avoided.

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    3. I found that flight range of A319 is 6800km and the distance between BEG and ALA is around 4500km. So, from technical side it should be ok.
      The other question is the profitability of that line. We should not forget that A319 would need almost all day to fly there and back and I am not sure that JU has spare planes for this kind of experiment.
      From the other side if there would be stop over in IKA it would make the story much different and open the door to profitability.
      I just hope that JU is not forced to open that line due to the fact that EY is closing it.

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    4. 4'500km (with flying south of crimea, direct it is 4'440km)

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    5. I think flying via IKA would make the route to ALA uncompetitive, especially when considering that Turkish has 9 weekly nonstop flights from IST-ALA.

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    6. Anon 10:27
      Don't forget that airliners seem to all be hugging the Turkish coast of the Black Sea. This adds another 100-150 km or so.

      It wouldn't be the longest a319/a320 flight, but it would still test the plane pretty well.

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    7. BEG-ALA is 2404nm, range of A320 is 3100nm and A319 up to 3600nm. Straight routing would lead plane right over Ukraine "war area" Odessa->Mykolajiv->Melitopol->Mariupol. Average flying time if direct routing is used: 5h16mins. I highly doubt this could be profitable.

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    8. All airlines have to cover the same distance to Almaty from Europe and people still have to fly to Paris, London, Frankfurt and Athens so I don't see how Air Serbia is at a disadvantage in here, besides being able to serve more efficiently a part of Europe from Kazakhstan that other airlines expect TK simply can't.

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    9. First of all economy of Germany, France , UK etc is in much better shape than Serbian economy and logially you will have much more P2P passengers to these big centers.
      Second, the network of LH, BA, AF is much bigger than JU network for connecting flights from Kazakhstan
      Third, if LH send one plane to ALA or TSE and keep it flying all day only on that route it is not big deal for them as they have 271 planes in fleet. If JU sends one plane for whole day flying to Kazakhstan it is 5% of all their fleet.

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    10. So why are they considering it then, any good point?

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    11. The president of Kazakhstan is in Belgrade with an economic delegation. That's why they mentioned it, they always do it when there is some foreign visit.

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    12. ^ Not really...

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    13. Dear AEROLOGIC what do you think ? It's all simple. Air Serbia is a non private company which is managed by politicians so if something goes wrong the bill is going to be paid from Serbian people taxes. As I said it's so simple!

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    14. Anonymous at 2:24 PM
      +1

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    15. In your mind it is definitely that simple. But it's still, you know, only your mind.

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    16. The Etihad alliance is about to become completely absent from central Asia, a key region with a developing economy and huge natural resources, once EY withdraws from Kazakhstan. This must be considered not from the vantage point of Serbia or ASL but the Etihad group as a whole to which it belongs. With the rumour that Etihad is retiring A319s it used to operate the route and transferring them to Air Serbia, it all makes sense. No one is telling they should be flying 11 times a day, but 3-4 per week for the beginning would certainly work with the right marketing and tourism appeal of Serbia/Montenegro. It's all about selling your product. TK is so far making a fortune on their Kazakhstan routes, with no competition as far as Frankfurt and Kiev.

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    17. Fully agree with Aerologic on this one.

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    18. I still don't get it, why this is a great opportunity for air serbia ? For the record etihad is suspending almaty not Astana. And if Kazakh people want to travel to JFK there is always the daily solution of Aeroflot. As for Europe air astana, Lufthansa, klm, Aeroflot, Turkish.

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    19. 1) B733 could not even make flights to the UAE direct but the A319 has legs for it. A319 could comfortably do BEG-ALA

      2) @nebojsa popovic

      going by this logic Serbia should not have an airline. Serbias economy suffers from low paying black market jobs where the government loses on taxes and low purchase power of its people. Serbian workers in Kazakhstan get much better salaries. Energoprojekt is a good example of Serbian labour in Kazakhstan. Direct flights could stimulate a growth in business and trade, which is what we need. JU has a surplus of aircraft in the winter and what better way to use it than on a long flight. Also, rumour here has been another 2 A319's will be joining the fleet from AB and they need to go somewhere.

      3) I see this flight fitting perfect in the 13h departure wave. Western Europe and JFK connects to this flight, a couple extra hours on ground in Kazakhstan and back to BEG for an arrival before 6am to connect again to Western Europe and JFK. A codeshare with Air Astana would be icing on the cake as both side have something to offer.

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    20. JATBEGMEL I'm referring to your part 3 , once again why do Kazakh people have to wait those 3 or 4 flights pw of Airserbia to travel to JFK or Europe while they have many more alternatives? (Aeroflot, Lufthansa, klm , Turkish , Air Astana)

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    21. Same reason why people from Albania, Cyprus, Ukraine are going to the US with Air Serbia - it's cheaper.

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    22. Wow are you aware of the prices between almaty or astana to New York, I am impressed!

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    23. @JATBEGMEL
      That kind of logic cannot be followed in this case at all. Air Serbia is young company from country that suffered a lot in recent 25 years. It was a great move to establish the company as it is, but in next moves management needs to be on the first place realistic when it comes to exotic destinations. Kazakhstan is far from Europe with population that is also not among the richest nations, there is almost no Serbian diaspora there (there are more Serbian people in Spain but JU does not plan to fly there) except people who work for construction companies but their number is far from enough to open direct line which would occupy plane for whole day. IKA would be much smarter decision. The rumours about 2 A319 are quite old and they should not be trusted as long as we do not see these planes in BEG.

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    24. @ 6:19 PM
      Then why should Aeroflot, KLM or Lufthansa open flights if Turkish (or any other airline) is flying there?!

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    25. @AnonymousAugust 23, 2016 at 6:19 PM
      What sort of logic is that?

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    26. Anonymous 7:41pm and 7:43pm all I'm saying is that those airlines are away more established in this kind of routes, this for a little company like Airserbia is a profound risk and I'm afraid that this risk that politicians take at the end is going to be paid by us Serbian people!

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    27. If it is a question of the Etihad Alliance member flying to Almaty then wouldn't AZ make more sense? More O&D pax, better connects from Rome and Milano.

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    28. Longer distance to fly from Rome (more fuel to carry), higher cost structure, Kazakh people need a visa for Italy, BEG can gather pax from all the sides of the alliance (North, South...) in the most convenient way.

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  5. At first it looks a bit out there, then when you look at some of the facts you think maybe it will happen.

    Usually when Mali announced a route was being considered it actually launched. Although consideration does not mean it will go ahead.

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  6. Well Kondic did say they are flying everything in Europe they need. So now they focus on Asia :D

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  7. This would be an interesting experiment.

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  8. They should have kept St. Petersburg and Kiev year round before even considering Almaty.

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    1. +1 don't forget WAW

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    2. WAW and KBP would have both 100% worked if ASL had a regional jet in the 70-100 seat category.

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    3. Winter schedule still not finalized. We might see some surprises.

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    4. Not true, winter timetable is finalized, the only exemption could be introducing PRN in the network at some time.

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    5. PRN will definitely launch at the first possible moment. JU are looking for people who speak Albanian for ASGS and Cabin Crew.

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  9. This won't happen before BEG-JFK-MEX as announced by Zorana Mihajlovic.

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    1. There is a difference between the announcements of Zorana Mihaljovic (whom has nothing to do with ASL), and Sinisa Mali, the chairman of the supervisory board of ASL and an individual who has been rather trustworthy in past announcements.

      I am not saying that ASL will fly to Kazakhstan (I will believe it once tickets go on sale or the flights are officially scheduled), but you can't compare the announcements of Mihajlovic and Mali when the topic is ASL.

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    2. Why not? Mali is also a politician and a crooked one while we're at it. He is no different than Zoka.

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    3. I don't trust Mali on any topic, but I must admit that he has a pretty good track record on announcements regarding ASL. His word is slightly more worthy on this matter than other politicians.

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  10. Yeah, pour more money in the black hole

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    Replies
    1. Painkillers don't help this morning?

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  11. OS for example is cancelling Kazakhstan completely at least this winter as it is one of their most unprofitable routes (Astana). It seems unclear if they will keep it possibly as a seasonal route (summer) from 2017.

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    1. Which aircraft do they use on that route?

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    2. Remember that OS has a much higher cost base. Maybe this is actually making space for ASL opening the route. The same is happening as with Swiss in Ex-Yu, it's being served by other carriers in LH group.

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    3. JU doesn't have OS network.

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    4. I could not find that OS fly to TSE at all

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    5. Leteo je OS imaju i mape na Internetu.
      Ali takodje OS pojacava letove za Iran.
      INN-NS

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    6. Mozda je leteo ali ne vidim da sad leti s obzirom da je diskutant gore napisao kako od ove zime nece leteti sto normalno ukazuje da sad leti.

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    7. Last flight of OS to Kazakhstan TSE was on 1st of August. Route is doing an extended brake (officially just pausing for winter).

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  12. As I said yesterday and many times before, this was long overdue. Planes to Kiev have been running full for most of the summer.

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  13. If this flight will materialize, but there is still a big if, I will take it ASAP.
    Currently on this route I'm flying mostly Turkish and Aeroflot, sometimes Lufthansa.

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  14. Replies
    1. Except that was AZAL not Air Serbia :)

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  15. Belgrade - Astana - Beijing?

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    Replies
    1. Perfect, only 0,3% longer than direct routing.

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    2. Actually, this idea might be worth a sincere thought if it can all be served by an A320. But probably only under condition of granted Fifth Freedom between KAZ and China

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    3. Makes more sense than connecting ALA to IKA in a triangle! Very big distance between these two airports.

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  16. Central Asia is quite an underserved market.

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  17. Don't think this would work but it's good they are considering new markets.

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  18. Mali would not shoot his mouth about this just for the fun of it. I bet this was suggested during a board meeting.

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  19. Still don't get why they are overlooking the Spanish market...

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    1. The numbers are probably just not there.

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    2. And there are higher numbers forecasted for Kazakhstan??

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    3. Ebala vas vise Spanija ne rade Srbi u Spaniji nego idu na godisnji odmor za sta postoje charteri. Spanija pa Spanija.

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    4. Just wait for only several days...

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    5. Ja bih pre rekao, Španija je Španija.

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    6. A little patience

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    7. Spain is definitely a black hole in the JU network.

      VY seems to be doing ok with their seasonal BCN. JU has a codeshare agreement with UX which could boost JU offerings ex MAD and BCN. Not to mention the large amount of traffic between Bulgaria and Romania to Spain, which could push SOF and OTP to double daily.

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  20. If EY could not make it work how can JU?

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    1. Same way Larnaca works for JU and not for EY.

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    2. Because transferring through Abu Dhabi to anywhere in western Europe would be much longer then through BEG which is on route.

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    3. Just because a larger airline can't make it work on a certain market does not mean that a smaller one can't.

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    4. EY was butchered by QR in LCA which increased it to double daily. EY launched LCA 8 years ago and they couldn't go beyond a daily flight.

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    5. AUH is definitely inferior to the other ME3 in terms of base, that is AUH. Anybody who has been through AUH will know how terrible it is. This will partially improve with the opening of Midfield Terminal, however this doesn't change the fact that the ground staff are useless.

      EY simply doesn't have capacity to expand much in AUH, as they struggle with current operations as it is.

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  21. Ovo bilo odlicno kad bi se iskoristilo kao ekspanzija i jos otvoriti letove za TBS , GYD , TSE i IKA .
    INN-NS

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  22. The biggest problem here is that Servia has no "outgoing passenger" card system in place. If they had this, they would be able to get figures as an airport to know where passengers are going. This would give the airport insight in a 12 month period to know how many people are going to a destination and they could approach airlines to discuss potential new routes between their cities.

    Speculating the need for a service that in the end is just a feeder to the rest of Europe is pointless since this won't grow your tourism internally - I see the majority of the passengers here as being VFR and not tourist or even stopover potential for the growth of Serbian tourism.

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    Replies
    1. Could they not get this information from the airlines at the end of each day? But I suppose this info is privileged & proprietary.

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    2. Most countries don't have arrival/departure cards and yet have these figures. The main reason behind these cards is to declare items brought into the country.

      This information is easily accessible by running through pax itineries, that is check in pax and their checked in final destination.

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  23. Ok so I had a bit of time so I tried to figure out the optimal schedule for BEG-ALA flights. From my amateur analysis, the best times would be to either feed the morning West Europe departures (~06:00) or the afternoon West Europe departues (~18:00). The market between Almaty and West Europe might not be huge, but it is underserved and BEG is at a perfect position to serve many large West European cities.

    The first option is to serve the morning bank of W. Europe departures, which also connects rather well to JFK and Zagreb and Ljubljana as well. All times are local BEG. I think ALA is 4 hours ahead.

    Arrival BEG 06:00
    Departure BEG 13:00 (Layover BEG 7hr 00min)
    Arrival ALA 20:00 (Block Time 7hr 00min)
    Departure ALA 22:30 (Layover ALA 2hr 30 min)
    Arrival BEG 06:00 (Block Time 7hr 30 min)

    The second option is to target the afternoon W. Europe departures.

    Arrival BEG 14:30
    Departure BEG 23:45 (Layover BEG 8hr 15 min)
    Arrival ALA 06:45 (Block Time 7hr 00min)
    Departure ALA 08:45 (12:45) Layover ALA (1hr 15min)
    Arrival BEG 14:30 (Block Time 7hr 30min)

    I think we can all agree that such a route with so little P2P traffic would almost certainly not be profitable, but if the losses are small or the route can break even, this route could certainly help the company by establishing it as a transit hub and bringing in a lot of traffic flow. Also, the economic and political benefits for Serbia would be rather large.

    I think the greatest chance of success would be to lease an A320 with winglets and equip it in ASL's 155 seat config. Then, basically dedicate that plane to flying daily to ALA serving the morning W. Europe departues (the first schedule I wrote in this post). The next step would be to start a marketing campaign in Almaty to introduce BEG as an extremely convenient stopover point to West Europe.

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    1. But will there be enough pax to sustain the flights? Maybe thrice weekly at first. Can AS code share with a local airline to get more pax from Central Asia?

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    2. I think that the only chance of success is taking the risk, being aggressive, and going all in.

      I don't think that there are more than 10-15 passengers per day between ALA and BEG, so ASL has no other choice but to go hard for transit pax. Without at least 6-7 weekly flights, there is little chance that this route will succeed.

      The two main competitors would probably be Turkish (up to 9 weekly flights), Aeroflot (up to 16 weekly flights) and Ukraine International Airlines (Daily flights).

      If ASL can offer convinient and daily connections to about 10 major European cities, a handful of Ex-Yu destinations, and even offer flights to JFK, maybe they can pull enough transit traffic to make it worth it.

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    3. It seems that the risk is high for, at best a questionable route. And that would always be risky and on the verge of being cancelled. My thinking is that AS must have at least 25% O&D pax to make a route viable.

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    4. This was a bad attempt by Aleksandar Stojanovic to copy Purger or Aerologic but anyway... The main point here should be to promote BEG as "Europe without visa" tourist point for Kazakh people. There should be tour-packages offering Serbia and surrounding non-Schenghen countries. That way the route could gather significant O&D.

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    5. Well, if AS starts flying to ORD & YYZ you will need many more feeder routes. Why not central Asia and Iran?

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    6. @Anon 12:42: Why are you being rude? I found the analysis of Aleksandar to be quite good! Cheers

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