Air Serbia is looking into the possibility of introducing long haul charter flights with its Airbus A330-200 aircraft this winter season. The carrier is exploring the idea in partnership with the National Association of Travel Agencies of Serbia (YUTA). In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the Association confirmed that initial talks are taking place with the airline but noted that the carrier's initiative is still at an early stage. "Keeping in mind that YUTA is one of Air Serbia's biggest partners in charter travel through our members, Air Serbia suggested a meeting with tour operators where we would discuss possible charters to far-off destinations", YUTA said in a statement.
According to the Association, tour operators are interested in long haul charter flights to Thailand and Cuba during the winter months, as there is sufficient demand for those markets. However, YUTA noted that all sides involved are yet to determine future cooperation models and conduct their final calculations and possible financial risks. "The potential realisation of these charters would be carried out during the winter season", the Association concluded. The Serbian government has inked a number of Air Service Agreements and Memorandums over the past year with countries which could be of interest for potential long haul charter operations including the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka. These agreements set the legal framework for air operations between the two sides.
Air Serbia will be able to operate long haul charters with its A330-200 aircraft, which is used on scheduled services from Belgrade to New York, as the carrier will reduce frequencies on the route from five to three per week starting November 8. The last time long haul charter flights were run out of Belgrade was during the 1980s. They were maintained by JAT Yugoslav Airlines, often by its Air Yugoslavia division. Over the years, the carrier also operated five "round the world" flights. The first, which departed on November 10, 1974 had the routing Belgrade - Beirut - Mumbai - Singapore - Tokyo - Honolulu - Los Angeles - New York - London - Belgrade. Subsequent world flights would include destinations such as New Delhi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kyoto, San Francisco and Buffalo. The tours lasted some twenty days.