Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Air Serbia mulls future of Aviolet


Air Serbia is considering future options for its dedicated charter brand Aviolet, which was launched in the summer of 2014. Utilising four Boeing 737-300 aircraft, Aviolet is fully operated by Air Serbia but offers a different on board product with an all-economy cabin and a buy-on-board service. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “Aviolet was created as a brand to take advantage of the old aircraft in terms of how we gave them separation to the mainline fleet. We will always be in the charter market, because that is the nature of the outbound Serbian market. While we have those aircraft, they will be branded as Aviolet”.

However the Serbian national carrier is considering evolving the dedicated charter brand and looking at a number of options. Mr Kondić said, “We are looking at Aviolet, as part of our five year review, and what the potential is to broaden our charter offering. Aviolet remains a good option for us but the interesting thing is to see if it has legs to do something more than just what it is currently doing”.


Last winter season, for instance, Air Serbia explored the possibility of introducing long haul charters with its Airbus A330-200 aircraft. However, following talks with tour operators, it was decided against such a move due to a lack of interest for long haul widebody charters. “There are very few destinations where you can fly the A330 that are going to be appealing to tour operators. Serbia is a price sensitive market and when we gauged interest for charters to Thailand – which is further to fly to than New York – the economics required to make it breakeven were too large. Another option we considered was the Caribbean, but that also can't be sustained from a market such as Serbia”, Mr Kondić explained.

99 comments:

  1. Interesting. I definitely think they could do more with Aviolet outside of summer charters. They could get 2-3 new generation Boeings and could have operated that as a low cost unit. Obviously that is not going to happen with the change in business model at JU but just my two cents.

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    1. I really don't see what the difference will be between Air Serbia and Aviolet on-board product. Actually the only one I can think of is the blocked middle seat at the front of the plane acting as "Business Class". Way to go Air Serbia, from "Boutique Airline" down to Aviolet level.

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    2. Are you saying that LH, Aegean, BA and others who have this business class are also at Aviolet level ?

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    3. It's obvious that those other airlines don't count - it only relates to Air Serbia

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  2. The good thing about it is that it's a neutral name and has neutral branding. Maybe they could have used it to base a plane in Banja Luka or Sarajevo.

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    1. Earlier this year BNX airport management said how they have suggested for JU to base a plane there.

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    2. Missed that. Do you have a link maybe?

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    3. http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/02/banja-luka-proposes-air-serbia-base.html

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  3. All this looks to me as if Dane doesn't how to take JU any further than this. Maybe it's time to.find someone more qualified?

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    1. Have you seen this guy's CV ie. how long he has worked in the airline industry and who he has worked for ?

      There are few people more qualified anywhere ... he's probably only here because of his Serbian roots.

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    2. I think Dane is doing a good job given the limitations of the Serbian market and a credit what he has done to date. Too much commentary based on nostalgia rather than any real commercial acumen.

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    3. Anon at 9.06am - Have you taken the time to see his predecessors and their backgrounds ? If you did, you wouldn't make such a stupid remark

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    4. You can't compare Dane to other CEOs that ran Jat because they didn't start with a clean slate, new fleet, new employees and a lot of cash. They had to deal with a massive and mostly useless workforce, their income was controlled by the ministry of finance, the government had them take out loans that they used later on, not the airline. Jat had millions of debt that wasn't inherited by Air Serbia.

      So you really want to compare Dane to Jat CEOs? You gotta be freaking kidding me.

      Also, don't forget that Dane is the ONLY CEO Air Serbia ever had.

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    5. Every time there is Air Serbia news this same person asks for replacement of Dane. Please don't feed the troll!

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    6. I fear it's not just one person.

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    7. I don't think Dane is solely to blame for the mess in JU.

      I think sadly there is still a lot of government interference and wouldn't be surprised if SNS party members had priority on positions rather than better qualified people.

      There are many things JU could do differently, I just don't think the circumstances allow it to do so...unfortunately.

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    8. What mess are you referring to ??

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    9. - Expensive overhaul of 10 ac.
      - No concrete plan for the regional fleet.
      - No set time for the B733 retirement.
      - An A332 with poor utilisation.
      - Drop in quality of onboard service.
      - Dramatic changes to the timetables.
      - Failure to boost planned regional frequencies.
      - Insufficient marketing.
      - Inability to attract premium travellers.

      Just a couple of examples.

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    10. And yet they continue to grow ... so much for your "couple of examples"

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  4. So Aviolet is here to stay :) but they should think about replacing those B737s.

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  5. Re long haul charters I agree that there is no market. Could they possibly fly 3 weekly to New York all year and then launch a destination twice per week to somewhere else? Toronto or Chicago maybe?

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    1. That was something I mentioned a couple of times here. They after all did intend to bring in a second A332 which would allow for the schedules to come back to normal in the summer whilst boosting frequency. Something I think could work is 3 x JFK and 2 p/w PEK, and with the arrival of a 2nd ac boost JFK to 5 p/w, PEK to 3 p/w, YYZ/ORD 3 p/w.

      However, Serbia has only so much O&D capacity for these long haul capacity, economy weak for business travel, BEG not exactly a proper hub that entices travelers, while JU lacks decent amounts of frequencies to boost connectivity.

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  6. Mr. Kondic is thinking way too local.
    If they try to fill up their A330 for flights to New York with Passengers from Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia etc. they can also do the same with flights to Thailand. It is not enough to talk only to serbian tour operators if you want to serve the whole Balkan!

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    1. That would probably be too expensive because than you would have to charter a plane to all those places to get them to BEG.

      Anyway, airfares to Thailand are not that expensive anymore. I recently saw an offer from BEG to Bangkok with Flydubai return for just 280 euros! now that's crazy cheap and I assume it would be cheaper than this charter.

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    2. And I was thinkig that there are already flights from Zagreb, Skopje, Banja Luka, Tirana, Sofia etc. to Belgrade operated by Air Serbia. Silly me...

      280 Euros is really a high competitive price!

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    3. True there are but I was thinking these would be larger groups. But you are right. I assume if they were groups of up to thirty they wouldn't have an issue to accommodate them on the scheduled flights.

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    4. Why would the Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Kosovo markets want to choose to fly to Thailand on JU with a choice of 2 possible flights pw when you could fly EK, QR or TK with multiple options, new aircraft, stunning lounges, excellent connectivity at a similar price point?

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    5. Anon 9:22,

      Charter flights are very rarely arranged as connected flights. Even more rarely they are combined with scheduled flights. The rule is simple: tour operators sell holidays in destinations to which they can fly their customers directly. Otherwise they only sell the accommodation and don't bother with transport.

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    6. Do you have any stats on the number of transfer pax travelling to JFK? You will probably find it very small. Why would anyone fly for example ZAG to JFK via BEG on JU?
      ATR ZAG to BEG. Transfer and wait round BEG airport which overall is an ordinary facility and do the same inbound with a hideous transit time? Choice of only 3-5 flights pw.
      Alternatively choose either AF, KL, LH, BA, OS etc. Much more practical and simply a better experience

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    7. Price. My friend from Zagreb (who is Croatian and not Serbian if you were planning to go down that road) flew JU recently because it was the cheapest option. And she was impressed with service and overall experience.

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    8. Anon. 10.05. I am sure the Serbian hospitality is superb however if JU are filling the flight based on being the cheapest in market (I've seen prices at €157) then this is not sustainable and i have concerns for the future for these flights

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    9. You don't have a problem with Wizz offering non-sustainable 20 eur tickets but you have a problem with Air Serbia offering competitive tickets?

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    10. Different cost structure?

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    11. Also these days it's quite rare to find €20 tickets with Wizz Air, most are around €85 without luggage.

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    12. Wizz operates an efficient low cost model hence why they are expanding exponentially. JU on the other hand is reducing their number of flights, pays high lease costs for an older A330 that spends more time parked against the fence. If the above is commercially for JU then JFK would be operating daily by now

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    13. - Thailand is very competitive from Europe, low yielding and cheap.
      - Purchasing power in Serbia is weak and their is only a limited demand for long haul tourism from Serbia, which again is divided to other destinations (Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Dominicana).

      JU doesn't have to look domestically to find a use for its wide body.

      JU biggest problem is to put itself out to travel agencies and tourist boards out of Serbia. This is evident that Israeli carriers have recently arrived with similar if not higher capacity between BEG and TLV (IZ is sending the B753 to BEG) serving mostly Israeli tourists while JU does ok on the route. Mean while KK has replaced JU with an aircraft of higher capacity between BEG and IST. Just a couple of examples from many where inbound tourism could be a way to reduce the loss in keeping the aircraft on ground rather than in front of the hangar.

      Lets not forget so far there has been a 102% increase in Chinese tourists this year to Serbia, while their numbers are increasing in neighbouring countries as well.

      @ anonymous 9,38am

      there already is a number of pax traveling ex BEG for their vacations as there are really good offers from BEG.

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    14. Anon at 9.13am... gee, aren't you a wise one ? You should be working at an airline with your excellent logic - except for one "minor" omission.

      The difference between the USA and Thailand, is that the US provides 2/3 of the traffic on the route while Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia provides the rest.

      If they flew to Thailand, i'm pretty sure that there are barely enough passengers from there who would travel to Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia etc. to provide even 1% of the traffic for these flights.

      You have to look at demand from both ends of the route and in the US, they have greater purchasing power than those in Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia etc. - reflecting the fact that they make up 2/3 of the traffic on this route.

      Flying to Thailand would be an even bigger disaster than the US

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  7. Can they stop with these articles? They are doing them more harm than good. All we heard so far is that the current model doesn't work but they have no clue what to do in the future besides to test various models.

    All in all, if they start doing this they will end up like AB.

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    1. They are not the ones writing the articles. It's obviously an interview.
      But what's wrong with what they said here? We can conclude that they won't shut down Aviolet and they are looking at it to do something more than just charters.
      Don't understand your frustrations.

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    2. But they DO use aviolet in more than just charters, they use it very very often I think daily in scheduled flights don't they? And it's becoming annoying when you expect an airbus and they serve you with an old boeing!

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    3. That's a total lie. They are used few and far in between. Please can you qualify which schedule are you looking at, for your "very, very often" statement?

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    4. Anon 09.56

      Why don't you check your facts before writing nonsense? Today Aviolet is flying to Milan while yesterday it flew to BNX and LED.

      The B733s are regularly used in regular service. Why? Because the management has failed in ensuring that the airline can afford to use its own funds to retire these planes and to introduce new ones. Don't forget that Air Serbia is in this predicament despite receiving millions from the state budget.

      Who is to blame for this? Top-tier management of course.

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    5. Agree with Anon 10:16, as the previous one is completely wrong in saying B733 are used "few and far in between". Actually they're used daily on scheduled flights - Milan and also Tivat today. IFIAK the very first original plan was to retire them within 2 years which is long overdue.

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    6. Air Serbia announced the retirement of the B733 for spring 2014.

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    7. Iznajmice A319, a imaju stalne potrebe da ubacuju B737 kada iskoce avioni? Hm...

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    8. Anon 1.22pm - I think it was a typo. They meant spring 2034

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  8. No reason to keep Aviolet once the 737s are retired.

    After the reconfiguration on the A319 cabins, slimline seats will be added and most planes will have business class removed. Now these A319s are in the correct configuration for charter flights as well.

    It is a good idea to standardize around the Airbus fleet.

    In addition to summer charters, the airbuses should be used for every type of charter possible during the winter.

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    1. Exactly, you got it.

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    2. The demand for charters comes from TOUR OPERATORS, not from the airline itself.

      Since the demand for schedule flying during winter drops off dramatically everywhere (meaning that aircraft time is available), don't you think they would already be doing more charters if there was the demand from tour operators ?

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    3. AirYugoslavia je sama stvarala i prodavala carter ture tako da nisi u pravu. To nema AS. To im jednostavno fali odeljenja ne rade kao prave firme.

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    4. You're arguing against yourself... Air Yugoslavia was a tour operator which Air Serbia isn't.

      Air Serbia is a scheduled operator, not a tour operator. It doesn't organise packaged or group tours - that is what other travel and tour companies in Serbia do today

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    5. Demand exists for charters during summer. Air Serbia can decide to give up on that market when 737s retire (not smart) or do what Aleksandar said. There is no need for four Airbus planes to replace four 737s, two will probably be enough.

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  9. Good idea. Hope they do more with Aviolet.

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  10. I didn't realise that they have their own website
    http://www.aviolet.rs/

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  11. sorry, but i just don't get this article???
    "JU is considering a number of options, we tried putting a330 on the market and it didn't work"... aaaand?
    that's the entire article/post?

    what are the options JU is considering?
    if it is 5Y plan than it is obvious that aviolet fleet will need to change maybe even in 2018
    where is the data about age of a/c, what would be the price of engine overhaul to continue using this a/c, what are replacement options, would they be to expensive for JU, what is the size of charter market in serbia and how it was affected due to terrorism?

    yesterday's article aboute a319 lease was far more important. this is a timewaster

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    1. Why do you read it then or even waste more time by commenting on it.

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    2. It's obvious they don't want to say what the options are. JU keeps most of its plans under wraps tightly.

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    3. They don't even know themselves what their options are. They are throwing it all out hoping something will stick.

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    4. Interview with the new COO revealed a lot more about the options being considered.

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    5. At the end of the day it will be the CEO who decides not the COO.

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    6. The COO is irrelevant, JU is a one man show it seems.

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    7. What? It's about possible engine options mentioned in another interview, not about who or how makes a decision! I feel like I am herding cats here!

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    8. Aviolet B733 engines are rather new(ish). Don't know what overhaul you're talking about?

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    9. newish LOL!
      my god! why are you even making the comments when you don't even have the basic fact?

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    10. What basic fact?

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  12. If they are introducing slimmer seats on the Airbus fleet will they possibly do the same on the B737s?

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    1. Those bird will have to retire in the next 2 years. I don't see the point of refurbishing the cabin.

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    2. In next 6 months

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    3. and what then?

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    4. And then as A Stojanovic said.

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  13. They should have named it Aeroput not Aviolet ;)

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  14. Did JU organize any extra flights to scheduled destinations during easter?
    For example A330 to ZRH?

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    1. I don't think so. But they did have some charters to Italy and Spain I think.

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    2. Thats really stupid, especially this year when both easter are celebrated at the same day.
      All flights overbooked....

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    3. They had charters to Beja in Portugal, Santorini and Bari.

      Actually Purger recently did an analysis of how ex-Yu airlines failed to respond to the Easter rush. Although his analysis is mostly based on Croatia Airlines he does touch on others as well.

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    4. Alen Šćuric PurgerApril 19, 2017 at 2:30 PM

      Imate mnogo podataka o uskrsnim letovima i charterima u regiji u mom novom članku:

      https://tangosix.rs/2017/04/18/razocaravajuc-angazman-domacih-kompanija-regije-tijekom-uskrsa/

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    5. Thanks, Purger!

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    6. Alen Šćuric PurgerApril 19, 2017 at 7:28 PM

      You are welcome.

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    7. Purger
      Zanima me mozete li napraviti clanak o zracnoj luci brac i njenoj buducnosti uzevsi u obzir sve najavljene novosti kao jos dodatno produljenje staze i otvaranje male baze za tui...dolazak eurowingsa i ostale najave?

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  15. I hope they keep Aviolet. It's good to distinguish it from the main airline.

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  16. How many seats do JU B737s have?

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    1. Thanks do they still have the JatAirways seats on it?

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    2. No, the cabins have been refurbished. They use the old Lufthansa leather seats.

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    3. Ok interesting, thanks. Although JatAirways did have a different product on each of its planes in its last year. I think they too had the old Lufthansa seats on one plane, some blue leather seats on another and the old-style cloth seats on other planes.

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    4. YU-ANK and YU-ANI feature the old Jat textile seats.

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  17. Ex-Yu,
    We have been seeing here very different comments related to B733 fleet. Some say that even retired B733 planes like YU-ANF will be back in service, some say current Aviolet fleet will be retired in 6 months, some say in 2 years etc.
    From the other side we saw JU looking for new pilots on B733.
    Is there any way you can obtain reliable information from JU what is planned to be done with B733 fleet and how long can they still fly?
    Otherwise we shall see here nothing but guessing.

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    1. I lot of the articles on here are arbitrary. The nature of commercial aviation really. I'm still waiting for the confirmation of those flights to China and the recent financials for JU

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  18. Dane, your JU strategy reminds me of the French football tactics at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_IPuB3Qb_Kdg/RhYyu7to6wI/AAAAAAAAAMI/P_AWhfCN51w/s1600-h/football_tactics_5%5B1%5D.gif

    All possible hypothesis considered.

    For alternative football strategies (parody, needless to say), see the following:
    http://nowthatisfunny.blogspot.com/2007/04/football-tactics.html

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  19. It is a sad fact to acknowledge that Dane is right to some extent and that the home market is a quite limiting factors for the airline's development and especially use of wide-body aircraft during slow months. But still, that doesn't answer the questions:

    - Why aren't there any advertisements of Belgrade/Serbia as a tourist destination in Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Warsaw or any marketing of any kind of 'Belgrade stopover'. Only last year i visited almost a dozen airports where Air Serbia flies across the Euromed without a single sign of the airline in sight. In the meanwhile, Turkish and its other competitors are everywhere, even in Belgrade.
    - Till this day Air Serbia didn't bother to open a representative office in Knez Mihajlova or in another prime location in Belgrade, their historical office in Kralja Milana being again sub-leased to some insurance company
    - Air Serbia has huge advantages over its competitors when it comes to labour costs, be it Austrian, Aegean or even Wizz Air that could more than offset the disadvantages of its home market
    - Huge markets are right within reach mostly by ATR, completely untapped: Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, Chisinau, Lvov, Odessa, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest (abandonned), Ankara to name a few
    - Is it possible that LOT and Austrian see sense in serving LWO double/triple daily but JU can't make it with a daily ATR with the same distance? Turkey can't say a word if JU decides to launch Ankara, given their carriers enjoy 3x the number of slots JU has even with the codeshare.

    Those are questions that certainly needs to be answered. To acknowledge difficulties is one thing, but what was done is far from enough to overcome and compensate for them. I vouch that network reconfiguration and re-balance and not the downscaling of the product is the way to go forward.

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    1. Valid points however I guess it comes down to cash. EY are notoriously tight when it comes to expenditure and Dane is somewhat constrained by what his bum chum Hogan dictates. This will change when Hogan moves on. My concern now is what will happen next. EY are currently reviewing its European airlines investments and a lot rides on next week and whether the AZ unions accept the new terms. If not AZ will likely ground its aircraft and the rest will be history.

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    2. Huge markets are right within reach mostly by ATR, completely untapped: Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, Chisinau, Lvov, Odessa, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest (abandonned), Ankara to name a few
      - Is it possible that LOT and Austrian see sense in serving LWO double/triple daily but JU can't make it with a daily ATR with the same distance? Turkey can't say a word if JU decides to launch Ankara, given their carriers enjoy 3x the number of slots JU has even with the codeshare.

      Kako covek nista ne zna o avio saobracaju. Dok Ankara ima i nekog smisla kao i Krakov ostali su pokriveni sa LCC kompanijama. Koliko ima potrebe toliko ima i saobracaja.

      Beograd je ovih dana bio pun turista iz Izraela i Turske i Nemacke. Svi oni lete SVOJIM aviokompanijama dok za SAD koriste iz TLV vezu sa AS. Ako bude razvoja mreze prema daljim destinacijama onda ce i biti vise transfernih putnika u Evropi malo teze vise nego sada.

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    3. True that. Because low-costs are flying there there is no market ^ ^

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    4. How stupid is this... In that case LOT shouldn't be launching Podgoroica cause there is ASL/MGX with 30+ flights per week, or Wizz Air shouldn't be launching SJJ, SKP etc. just because of Air Serbia, yeah, sure. That argument is completely irrelevant and reflects nothing else besides laziness and incapacity, the guy must be working for JU.

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  20. The sad, sad tradition of naming people after living legends continues and this time around it's Zoka who strikes. She is proposing for one aircraft to carry the name of Zdravko Colic. lol

    What's next? Lepa Brena?

    http://rs.n1info.com/a243094/Biznis/Predlog-da-jedan-avion-nosi-ime-Zdravka-Colica.html

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  21. Just a question (I know that they have new engines and they are exploited less than the Airbuses)...
    How long can the 737s stay active?

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