Latvia's national carrier airBaltic is considering launching flights to Belgrade next year. It comes as the airline prepares to introduce at least eight new routes in 2017 with the addition of the new Bombardier CS300 aircraft to its fleet. Speaking to the "Aviatica" portal, the company's CEO, Martin Gauss, said, "Belgrade is extremely interesting to us. We haven't announced it yet but anything is possible. We work closely with Air Serbia and we would like for our two companies to launch this route jointly and have a codeshare between Riga and Belgrade. That would be best". He added, "This route has big potential, however, for the service to be introduced, we would need to collaborate with a Serbian partner".
The Latvian carrier introduced flights between Riga and Belgrade in 2009 but the route was suspended two years later despite recording better than expected results. Flights were discontinued along with several other destinations as the carrier struggled with financial problems and a fleet shortage. Initially, the route was downgraded to seasonal summer operations before it was discontinued altogether. A year ago it was reported that airBaltic made plans to return to the Serbian market with two weekly flights and had undertaken a feasibility study but in the end decided against the move. airBaltic, as the launch operator of the CS300, took delivery of the aircraft last week, which will act as a replacement for its Boeing 737-300s and B737-500s, joining a fleet of twelve Bombardier Q400 turboprops to serve routes throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
Last year, Air Serbia and Air Baltic signed a wide-ranging codeshare agreement. The deal resulted in Air Serbia placing its “JU” designator code and flight numbers onto 47 weekly services operated by airBaltic between Riga and Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw, as well as between Tallinn and Vienna. In return, airBaltic added its “BT” flight code on 56 weekly flights operated by Air Serbia between Belgrade and Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw. The Serbian carrier has since discontinued its flights to the Polish capital. Put together, these connections allow travellers to fly between the capital cities of Serbia, Latvia and Estonia via one stop using a single ticket.