Air Serbia plans to maintain its service to New York despite a shift in strategy and a greater focus on "flying to European markets". It comes in the lead-up to the route's one year anniversary this June and just weeks after the airline announced the planned suspension of its second longest service, to Abu Dhabi, this coming winter season. Although the carrier has conceded that its New York operations are yet to turn a profit, Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said in an interview to the "B92" network last week, "As a small company, we need to invest a lot, not just in the route but also in the sales network. We have to be realistic. People there do not know about Serbia, with exception to the diaspora, but we can't rely solely on them, despite the route's average load factor being 70%. Conquering the United States is no easy feat but we are working on it".
Flights between Belgrade and New York will peak at five per week during the height of the summer season, before reducing to four weekly as the winter approaches. The airline has planned a temporary stop-in-service between the two cities from October 1 to October 13 due to scheduled heavy maintenance of its sole Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with flights to resume as per normal from October 14. For the upcoming winter, the airline will look to better connect some of its regional flights to its transatlantic service, although the carrier has noted that this in itself will be a challenge due to slot constraints at JFK Airport that dictate the timings of these flights.
Last week, the United States Department of Transportation issued its final approval for Montenegro Airlines to commence codesharing on Air Serbia's flights between Belgrade and New York. This development is expected to further boost loads as Montenegro has proven one of the best selling markets for the airline's US service. The Serbian carrier is also in discussion with a few airlines from the United States in order to better connect its flight to their networks. "It is a long-term game, especially for us since we are a non-aligned carrier flying across the Atlantic. We are making great progress. Our cargo business for example, has been performing beyond expectations. Going forward, as we continue to build momentum and connect more destinations and airlines to our JFK service, we will similarly see better returns", Mr Kondić said recently.