Air Serbia will discontinue flights between Belgrade and Istanbul next month, which are to be replaced by AtlasGlobal (formerly known as AtlasJet). The Serbian airline's final service to Ataturk Airport is scheduled for March 14 after which ticket sales have been suspended. The carrier has been struggling on the route, faced with strong competition and falling demand for travel to Turkey. "The decision was made as a result of declining point-to-point passenger traffic and yield on the route, which has underperformed company expectations, and follows in the footsteps of other airlines that have withdrawn from the Turkish market", Air Serbia said in a statement. It added, "The Airbus A319 aircraft currently serving Istanbul will be redeployed on other, more profitable routes to ensure the airline’s capacity is best-utilised to meet air travel demand on its network".
This winter Air Serbia is maintaining daily flights to Istanbul. The airline has often downgraded its equipment on the route to the 66-seat ATR72 turboprop. Air Serbia is the last national carrier from the former Yugoslavia to terminate services to Istanbul, with Croatia Airlines discontinuing flights from Zagreb in 2013 and Adria Airways from Ljubljana in 2016. "Air Serbia will continue to serve the Turkish market with seasonal flights through its charter brand, Aviolet, and is exploring additional options to provide air connections to Turkey through other partners", the company said. Turkish Airlines and low cost carrier Pegasus will continue to maintain services from Istanbul to Belgrade. Turkish operates double daily flights from Ataturk Airport, while Pegasus runs four weekly services from Sabiha Gokcen.
In partnership with Air Serbia, AtlasGlobal plans to commence daily flights between Istanbul and Belgrade using its 200-seat Airbus A321-200 aircraft, which features eight seats in business and the remaining 192 in economy class. The service will begin on March 15, with a split morning and afternoon schedule. AtlasGlobal boasts a fleet of 23 aircraft and maintains operations throughout Turkey, northern Cyprus, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The airline recently signed a codeshare agreement with Air France marking its first such deal with a major European airline. Further flight details for the new Istanbul - Belgrade service operated by AtlasGlobal can be found here.