Air Serbia saw its passenger numbers decline 3% during the first half of the year on flights to and from its hub in Belgrade, according to the airport's quarterly report. The loss was almost entirely generated during the first quarter of the year when the airline made significant cuts to its network, while the second quarter saw similar passenger figures to that of last year. Overall, the carrier handled 1.110.380 passengers on flights to and from the Serbian capital, thus maintaining its position as the busiest airline in the former Yugoslavia, ahead of Croatia Airlines with 822.260 travellers during the same period. The Serbian carrier recorded 14.848 aircraft movements at Belgrade Airport, down 2.6% on 2015.
Air Serbia's passenger share at Belgrade Airport stood at 52.6% during the January - June period, a decrease of 0.9% on last year. Its figures are expected to grow during the third and fourth quarters with five new routes launched in late June and a planned increase in frequencies during the upcoming 2016/17 winter season. Explaining the carrier's decision to cut operations during last winter, Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said in an earlier interview that the measure resulted in improved financial results and a boost in the carrier's average cabin load factor. "The prime goal was to take out capacity to therefore boost our load factors. We have had far more profitable operations - load factor increase of 4 - 5%, yield increases of about 9 - 10% and RASK (Revenue per Air Seat Kilometre) improvement of almost 20%. By any measure, I think it was a fairly smart, wise and good move", Mr Kondić said.
According to Belgrade Airport, Air Serbia's busiest route during the first half of the year was Zurich with 89.845 passengers carried, a notable increase of 17.3% compared to last year. At the same time, Swiss International Air Lines, which competes directly against Air Serbia on the route, saw 82.687 travellers. Zurich was followed by Paris with 75.587 passengers, down 4.9%, then Podgorica with 63.242 travellers, up 5.9%, and Amsterdam with 51.820 passengers carried during the first six months of the year, up 5.9%. According to Belgrade Airport, the carrier's fifth busiest route, Moscow, saw 48.477 passengers, marking a sharp decline of 16.9% on last year.