Air Serbia has said it has no plans to order additional wide-body aircraft to join its sole Airbus A330-200 jet but has reaffirmed its commitment to maintain long haul flights. Speaking to "Airlineratings", Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, "We are currently developing a strategic five-year plan. There are no plans to order more wide-bodies, but looking at it, when you get a second aircraft, you get a lot more synergies as well. If we weren't an Etihad Airways partner there is no way on earth we would have been able to realise the ambition to fly to the United States". He added, "We decided that with EAP [Etihad Airways Partner] synergies and low fuel prices it was now or never for our JFK route. The aircraft [A330-200] comes from Jet Airways in India, the pilots were trained at Alitalia, cabin crew at Etihad, the aircraft are serviced between Rome and Abu Dhabi and our GSA [General Sales Agent] in the US is Etihad. That’s living, breathing proof of synergy in action".
Since launching services to the United States in June 2016, the airline says passenger numbers on the route are 40% above the business plan after the first half year of operations, although yields haven't performed as hoped for, due to less Americans travelling on the route to Europe for fear of terror attacks, according to the airline. "The Balkans is a huge market and all the carriers in the Balkans are broken. We could not start with a clean slate, we inherited all the problems of JAT. We managed to move very quickly and focused on turning this business around. We have done a lot of things here in three years that other airlines wouldn’t do in ten years”, Mr Kondić noted.
The Serbian carrier is preparing to take delivery of ten new Airbus A320neos from next year, which are part of a bulk order from Etihad for 45 aircraft. In an earlier interview, Air Serbia's CEO said, "As one aircraft enters the fleet another will exit it. However, these aeroplanes give us the possibility to access new markets, for example Iran or Central Asia or North Africa. These are destinations that are within a two and a half-hour radius. The Far East is also a potential market for us if you consider relations between Serbia and the People's Republic of China", Mr Kondić said. He added, "We believe that Serbia has enormous potential. When we grow we aim to do it responsibly".