Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, has said that China will play an important role in the airline's continued expansion, noting that the market represents a critical step in the company's growth in Asia. It comes after the carrier appointed a general sales agent (GSA) for China with the aim of boosting its awareness on the market and promoting it as the airline of choice for the Balkans. Several months ago, Serbia's Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, noted that Air Serbia will most likely launch Beijing as its second long haul destination after New York, although the carrier has never endorsed these claims. More recently, the Serbian government noted it was negotiating with a Chinese carrier over potential services between the two countries, which are to commence in 2017.
Mao Jun, Air Serbia's consultant in China, says, "We are very excited that Air Serbia is re-entering the China market. China and Serbia are old friends. Together with CITS Air Service Company Limited, we will reintroduce Belgrade as an affordable and convenient gateway to Europe, and build greater awareness of Air Serbia as the airline of choice to the Balkan Peninsula and southeastern Europe for Chinese travellers". CEO Kondić adds, "China is not only important to the continued expansion of Air Serbia, but also important to the development of Serbia and the Balkans region. Our appointment of Air CITS as the China GSA is a critical step in Air Serbia’s expansion in Asia".
Air Serbia currently codeshares with Air China on its flight between Beijing and Vienna. Furthermore, Air Serbia also has special prorate agreements (SPA) on all of Etihad Airways' flights out of China, as well as SPA’s with China Southern, Xiamen Airlines and Hainan Airlines. The last time a Chinese carrier operated services to Belgrade was prior to the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Flights were initially launched from Beijing in 1978 by Air China’s predecessor CAAC and were operated with a Boeing 707 via Karachi (and for a short period of time via Tehran). Later on, services were introduced from Urumqi via Budapest. On the other hand, JAT Yugoslav Airlines launched Beijing in 1979 and operated its final flight to the the city in late 2000.