Air Serbia will discontinue its daily flights between Belgrade and Abu Dhabi at the end of the 2017 summer season, on October 29, exactly four years since the route's launch. In a statement, the carrier said the move will "allow Air Serbia to redeploy the A319 currently serving the market on shorter routes to maximise returns". It added, "The carrier will outfit its Airbus A319 and A320 narrow-body aircraft with slimmer seats to increase capacity and better utilise its aircraft by focusing on flying to European markets". Despite decent loads on its Abu Dhabi operations, the service is one of its most expensive with eleven hour retun flying time and crew rest in the Emirati capital.
Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, "After conducting an extensive review of our five-year business plan, we have taken the decision to consolidate our network by focusing on our European routes. As part of this, we will be increasing the seat density on our Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft with seats which are better-suited for our shorter flights". He added, "We will also be suspending our second longest route, Belgrade - Abu Dhabi, which will enable Air Serbia to increase the utilisation of our narrow-body Airbus fleet and maximise returns. These steps will increase revenue and help to balance the seasonal fluctuations in our traffic, enabling Air Serbia to keep up a strong pace of growth and mitigate the escalating cost of fuel and other services in the aviation industry".
Etihad Airways will continue operating daily flights between the two capital cities, which are codeshared by Air Serbia, as well as Montenegro Airlines, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, Virgin Australia and Oman Air. The Emirati carrier is expected to upgrade its equipment from an Airbus A320 aircraft on the route. Abu Dhabi was the first new service launched under the Air Serbia brand in late October 2013. This year, the Serbian carrier has discontinued flights to Istanbul and has not resumed its seasonal services to Kiev and Varna. On the other hand, it will launch flights to Venice on June 1. In a recent interview with EX-YU Aviation News, Mr Kondić said the airline plans to rationalise its operations prior to any future network growth.