Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hainan to launch Belgrade service in September


Hainan Airlines will commence operations between Beijing and Belgrade this September. According to a tentative request filed with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the carrier plans to initially maintain the service via the Czech capital of Prague over the winter season after which the airline will review the possibility of introducing nonstop operations. Hainan Airlines will run its Beijing - Prague - Belgrade service twice per week, each Monday and Friday with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which has the capacity to seat 32 passengers in business class and a further 260 in economy. The development comes some ten days following a visit by Serbia's President Elect to China, during which he said, "We will try to secure a final agreement concerning flights between China and Serbia, even if they have to operate via another European city during the first six months. Afterwards, we will have a nonstop service".

Hainan Airlines currently maintains flights to Prague three times per week and recently upgraded its equipment on the route from a Boeing 767 to the A330. Scheduling to and from Prague is expected to remain unchanged as Hainan's aircraft currently spends some eight hours at Vaclav Havel Airport before its return to Beijing. During this time, the jet will operate a rotation to and from Belgrade. The exact launch date in September has not been specified by the airline, however, according to the Czech portal "Planes", the service will commence midway through the month. Hainan Airlines' Prague service departs Beijing at 01.40 in the morning local time and arrives in the Czech capital at 06.00, before commencing its return journey at 14.35 and touching down the following day at 05.55.

Hainan Airlines' business class cabin

Hainan Airlines is China's largest private carrier by both market share and fleet size. Its A330-300 aircraft boast the airline's latest business class product in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration featuring 180 degree lie-flat seats, while all passengers have access to the airline's in-flight entertainment system through personal television screens. Air China's predecessor, CAAC, was the last Chinese carrier to serve Belgrade. Flights were maintained from Urumqi via Budapest until the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Sino-Serbian relations have soared since the launch of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has seen the arrival of several large Chinese companies to Serbia and the abolishment of visa requirements between the two nations.

143 comments:

  1. Nice. Cautious start and makes sense that they go via another European city first. Will be great to see Hainan's A330 in Belgrade.

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  2. Will they be selling seats between Prague and Belgrade?

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  3. Great news. Good luck Hainan. Hope for nonstop from March next year.

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  4. Nr znam koliko ce u JU biti zadovoljni ovim resenjem, ukoliko bude 5-te slobode, ovo ce biti ozbiljan problem za letove koje JU obavlja prema PRG imajuci u vidu dane kojima ce leteti

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    1. ne verujem da će biti problem. ako naprave code-share, win-win za JU. inače, pretpostavljam da će PRG-BEG biti ovako nešto:
      PRG0730-0900BEG1130-1300PRG

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    2. JU should not have a word to say but they should compete like everybody else.

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    3. Interesting, why Wizz Air never launched Prague?

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    4. Wizz launched Brno and Ryanair launched Ostrava

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    5. No problem for JU if they sign a codeshare. They can boost their PRG offer with Monday and Friday flight and try to pick some additional passengers from/to Prague.

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    6. or better. JU can "free up" additional capacity and "deploy that plane on more profitable routes'.

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    7. They fly to PRG daily and the Hainan flight would only be there on Mon/Fri. So JU would still have to primarily rely on her own metal. By codesharing with Hainan they could boost their capacity on the PRG route which on Mon/Fri should work well even for such marketing amateurs.

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    8. Non-EU carriers are not permitted to carry intra-Europe traffic - so no dilemma there

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    9. But Belavia has fifth freedom Budapest-Belgrade-Budapest and they are non EU. Also for example LAN Chile flies to Frankfurt via Madrid with fifth freedom between Madrid and Frankfurt.

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    10. You mean non-ECAA?

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    11. Also Air China flies passengers between MUC and ATH on its PEC-MUC-ATH-MUC-PEK flights which they are ending in autumn as it starts flying directly to ATH.
      Also EK used to fly pax between LCA and ATH and also flies pax daily between LCa and MLA.
      As long as the countries involved allow it the EU can not interfere.

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    12. You are correct - it should be non-ECAA carriers.

      But hey, the EU has rules in place which it chooses to selectively enforce depending on who is in question.

      Look at the Italian govt having just provided Alitalia with EUR600 - classic state aid which is illegal and yet no one seems to have raised so much as an eyebrow.

      Go figure ....

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    13. Alen Šćuric PurgerMay 26, 2017 at 12:31 AM

      No, it is not illegal if:
      - they do it once in 10 years
      - company in same time contribute with restructuring (cut frequencies, cut fleet, find new income...)
      - have business plan that is real (have chance that company will exist after restructuring)

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  5. Makes more sense then having their plane sit in PRG for 8.30 hours.

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    1. Why wasn't it extended on the Wednesday flight as well?

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    2. Looks like its been scheduled for Chinese groups who will be in Prague then go to BEG on Friday, spend the day and Saturday there and then go back to Prague on Sunday.

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    3. Monday you mean?

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    4. Sorry yes Monday which is in line with Chinese habit of spending 3 days at the same destination.

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    5. What about Bosnia, Montenegro etc.?

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    6. I think that will come into play next summer.

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  6. Alen Šćuric PurgerMay 25, 2017 at 9:19 AM

    Huge news! Congratulation to Serbia!

    To make it twice per week via PRG during winter and than 3 times per week directly from summer would be perfect. Winter via PRG, summer nonstop is good option without huge risk.

    Also Air Serbia can make extra connection flights via PRG on other days.

    I hope Zagreb will have same thing with Air Transat, during summer 2pw nonstop, in winter at least once per week via Barcelona, Dublin, Glasgow, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Nice, Porto, Prague, Rome or Venice. The best option would be Barcelona (which is also seasonal route) with 5th freedom on Zagreb-Barcelona flight.

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    1. Actually Alen, I disagree, Lyon would be better, Zagreb has more French visitors, and Barcelona could go full year next year with Vueling. I'd rather have Lyon connection or even better Dublin.

      Dublin flights would be always full because of 20-30 000 Croats who live in Ireland, and having that direct connection is really important. If OU can secure 4 new aircraft in 2018, aircraft OU needs to maintain all new routes introduced in 2016 and 2017, plus adding perhaps Dublin, Lyon, Marseille and Valencia in 2018.

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    2. @anon 5:58

      Where are you getting this figure from? There are exact statistics about the number of Croats living in ireland and it comes from the Irish statstics office: the member of PPS (OIB) issued to Croats in the period of 2000-2016 is a little over 12.000.
      Some of them have returned or moved to other countries.
      I have lived there before and no, there are not THAT many Croats living in ireland.
      Also, a lot of them earn minimum wage and do not travel home as often as people think hey do.
      A direct link twice a week might work if more Irish people fill those planes.

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    3. Alen Šćuric PurgerMay 26, 2017 at 12:35 AM

      Really lot of Croats move to Ireland in last 3-4 years. Not just from Croatia but also those with Croatian passport from BiH. Lot of them are IT experts, and those are working for huge pay check. They had one in Croatia also, but move because they want much more money.

      I presume that we will have Zagreb-Dublin flights in near future, eider Croatia eider Aer Lingus. Barcelona is seasonal flight and for sure that will make much more sense to make it year round on that way.

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  7. očigledno nema potencijala (pogledajte brojku turista iz Kine u Srbiji u zadnjih nekoliko godina!!) pa po političkom pritisku uvode ovakvu liniju. 2 godine max. i ode i ovo u ropotarnicu povijesti, kamo sreće za BEG da ne bude tako!

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    1. Hajde da sacekamo i vidimo, da ne hejtujemo od starta.

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    2. Na ovim letovima nece ici samo turisti, Hainan ima dobru mrezu destinacijapo Aziji i Australiji iako su pametni ce nuditi opcije i ponude beyond PEK.

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    3. Sto se cudis? Ljubomora postoji prema beg a bome i prema zag.

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    4. Nema ljubomore ljudi, samo statistike u broju dolazaka kineskih turista u Srbiju ni su velike. Neka bude dobro i neka broj turista skoči za 50% i neka linija ide kako treba. Pozdrav iz Rijeke.

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    5. Nisu, zbog toga se i ide preko Praga u pocetku jer je ocekivanje da ce da raste broj turista. Dobar pokazatelj je da su brojke skocile preko 100% u prvom kvartalu samo zahvaljujuci ukidanju viza.

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    6. Anon 10:02, odlično je to, ali je još uvijek premalo! Povuci paralelu između kineskih turista u Hrvatskoj i onih u Srbiji i primjetit ćeš da je razlika stvarno velika. Nadam se da će se Srbija po broju turista iz Kine približiti Hrvatskoj, onda će to značiti i veće šanse za opstanak linije.

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    7. U prvom kvartalu 2017 je bilo vise Kineza u Srbiji nego u Hrvatskoj, a ocekuje se da ce u ovoj godini biti isti broj Kineza u Srbiji kao u Hrvatskoj prosle godine... meni nije jasno zbog cega Hrvatska ima tako mali broj kineskih turista kada se uporedi sa brojom turista iz Koreje i Japana imajuci u vidu sta sve Hrvatska ima da ponudi.

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    8. @AnonymousMay 25, 2017 at 1:41 PM

      http://www.croatiaweek.com/record-2016-16-3-million-visitors-to-croatia/

      Most Chinese visitors to Croatia come in April-October period and in December. In fact Croatia has only 2-3000 Chinese visitors in first 3 months of the year.

      However, if you look at April arrivals, for Chinese visitors to Croatia, you'll find there are more Chinese visitors to Croatia in april alone than there'll be total number of chinese visitors to Serbia in first 6 months.

      Last year 122000 Chinese passport holders visited Croatia for their holidays, this year, 150-160 000 are expected. Season only started.

      Number of Chinese visitors to Serbia at best, could be 40 000 for entire 2017.

      BTW Croatia has 16.3 million visitors last year , 91.4 million nights, FYI.

      Also visa regime for Chinese visitors remain, EU rules prohibit visa free travel between China and the EU.

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    9. Tourist arrivals to Croatia...

      http://cdn.tradingeconomics.com/charts/croatia-tourist-arrivals.png?s=croatiatouarr&v=201705192025u

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  8. Excellent news. Wonder what the pricing may be for these flights.

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  9. Ovime se bas i ne dostize konkurentnost.
    Po mojoj slobodnoj procjeni, putnici iz BEG ce se nacekati u PRG 3 do 5 sati.
    Ne vidim smisao u ovom, osim ispitivanja trzista.

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    1. A bas ce oni požuriti da se odmah vrate u Prag iz BEG kako bi putnici tamo čekali, jel si ti normalan?

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    2. Koji to stop traje od 3 do 5 sati, navedi jedan primer na svetu! Tehnicki stopovi traju oko 1 sat.

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    3. Kad sam ja putovala sa Kipra u Barselonu preko Praga (skolska ekskurzija), mi smo bili zaglavljeni na praskom aerodromu 5-6 sati. Tako da se uvek najezim kad neko kaze "presedanje u Pragu".....

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    4. @Aleksandra PetrovicMay 25, 2017 at 6:14 PM

      Prague Airport is 4 times the size of Belgrade's airport, twice the size of Zagreb airport, has pax of 12.5 million ++++, and nre terminal was recently completed is a world class. Can handle 6 A380s at the same time and it is truly a world class airport. No idea where you get your horror stories from ? I travelled through Prague few times and it is a ok.

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    5. Alen Šćuric PurgerMay 26, 2017 at 12:39 AM

      Personally I like Prague Airport very much. Was flying via Prague at least 10 times and enjoy it every single time.

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  10. Well done! Reminds us of MSQ flights via BUD and initially DOH-BEG via SOF. Hainan will succeed!

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    1. It just remains to be seen if they will have 5th freedom like Belavia or not like Qatar.

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  11. Price of tickets? Anyone? Estimation? :)

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    1. Definetely more expensive than landing in AUH or DOH but with the same travel time :)

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    2. How do you know? Chinese carriers are not very expensive usually.

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    3. It will probably cost the same as Beijing-Prague.

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  12. Happy to hear this will materialize. Good luck :)

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  13. I think it is a smart choice to go via another city during the low season, especially a new route like this.

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  14. How long do these requests take? If the just filed it with the administration they will probably be putting it on sale just a few weeks before the launch.

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    1. I'm sure Vucic is doing the paperwork for them as we speak

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  15. Yep I've been waiting for this announcement for a long time.
    I think the flights will be cheaper than the current cheapest prices with Aeroflot via Moscow.
    I booked my flights just yesterday for my trip in July, so its a relief they didn't launch sooner otherwise I would be pretty upset that I booked the longer more tedious flight.
    I saw someone said September earlier in this blog so I half trusted what they said.
    For next year or 2019 we will probably use this flight to go to Belgrade again, I think it will be the most competitive pricing on the market if flying from that region or Australia/New Zealand

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    1. Did you book the Aeroflot option?

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    2. Yes, it was the cheapest by far, but by this time next year, I think the flights from Beijing will be even cheaper.

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  16. ju should look into tapping into/connecting to scoot flights at athens, these prices are crazy cheap http://www.secretflying.com/posts/australia-to-athens-greece-from-only-368-aud-one-way-or-737-aud-roundtrip/

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  17. Za letnju sezonu putnika ce biti dovoljno. Zimska sezona jeste problematicna. Dok se poslovi i trgovina ne dovedu na nivo koji ce dovoljno puniti putnika izmedju Kine i Srbije. Zimski letovi BEG-PRG-PEK su prava stvar za isplativost letova u zimskom periodu. Sto jedan anonimus prethodno pise o politickom pritisku za uvodjenje ovakve linije, to se nebih slozio. Dosta godina je proslo od kako su mnoge avio kompanije letele da bi nosile nacionalne zastave na repovima aviona... Sadasnje i buduce vreme to ne prihvata. Prosla su uglavnom vremena da se "izmuzaju" poreski obaveznici. Valjda je to i Balkan prihvatio? Ili...
    Rodney Marinkovic, Home of Qantasville I. Kings Park, NSW AUSTRALIA

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  18. No wonder that in just the last 2 weeks 15 Chinese newspapers have run stories about visiting Belgrade.

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  19. Am I the only one getting tired of commentators (including also the prominent ones) measuring dick size every time there is a news about Cro or Srb related stuff. And also downgrading other progress from ex-you other than Cro and Srb. And this passive - aggressive attitude. I mean get over it. I understand, we are talking about Balkan, but it is really getting boring.

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    1. Completely agree.

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    2. I like that guy who keeps the scoreboard of "bravo srbija" and "bravo hrvatska" posts

      he was on 52:48 last time i checked, if i remember correctly

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  20. So scheduled year round flights to the United States and China. A choice of a low cost airline based in the city with a growing network, a national airline with a good spread of destinations. That's a pretty good for BEG.

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    1. True. Flights to New York, flights to Beijing, many flights to the Persian Gulf. It's becoming a mini hub but still in the early stages of development.

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    2. I think flights to Canada are definitely missing.

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    3. If an LCC can't make year round flights work, then nobody can ... Hence, best hope is for seasonal flights like Air Transit currently operate to ZAG

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  21. I guess Belgrade airport will also go to the Chinese.

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    1. Unfortunately...

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    2. Why would that be bad?

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    3. Ako Kinezi zele najvise da uloze u izgradnju i prosirenje beogradskog aerodroma i da prave profit. To je dovoljno. Kome se to nebi svidjalo?
      Njegov problem. Ko najvise polozi novca i garancija, tome pripada aerodrom sledecih 25 godina... Ako se to nekom ne dopada. Neka ulozi vise i biznis je njegov. Drugacije ni Englezi ne tade.

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  22. It proved the naysayers wrong. Anyway I do hope these go nonstop during next summer, although a B787 would make more sense since it has less capacity but I do see they deploy mostly A330s to Europe.

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    1. Route will be reviewed during winter and nonstop might not occur after the review. Give naysayers a chance.

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    2. It should be 3 weekly with stopover for now.

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  23. With this schedule I don't think Air Serbia's A330 and Hainan's will be at the airport at the same time? Right?

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    1. If JU keeps the same JFK schedule then they will and probably departing within an hour apart of each other on Fridays.

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    2. Won't that be kind of an issue? The two A330s will take up all of the C gates.

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    3. three 330s can fit C gates - C1A, C3A and C6

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    4. Aha thank you

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    5. If Etihad eventually upgrades its equipment on the Abu Dhabi route there will possibly be 3 A330s lined up on Fridays afternoon.

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    6. That would be nice. If Air Serbia ever gets second A330 there will be four A330s lined up.

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    7. on C remote stands (C7-C10), 2 widebodies can fit, so capacity is 5 widebodies at the same time. also, BEG is planning on updating A6-A10 gates, where A10 is to be for widebodies, so then 4 at the same time would be able to fit at bridges, and 2 at remote stands, 6 in total

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    8. second a330 for JU? lol!

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    9. There was a lot of LOLs when first A330 was announced.

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    10. True, but this time, unlike last time, CEO said there would be no second A330 in another 5 years.

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    11. Where did he say that? Is there a link?

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    12. ^
      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/01/air-serbia-no-plans-to-order-more-wide.html

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    13. He said they won't be ordering it. Nothing about not leasing it. In the next sentence he talked about benefits of having a second aircraft.

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    14. Do you seriously think they can afford another A332 when they can't even lease out a second hand Atr?

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  24. Great news for BEG and Serbia. I think having a visa free regime is also an excellent thing. Who would have thought 10 years ago that you would be able to travel visa free with a Serbian passport to China, Russia and the EU.

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  25. So after 25 years there will again be more than just one widebody landing at BEG. Gosh how far we have fallen back. We used to widebodies from Qantas, CAAC, Iraqi Airways, JAT and a few others in the 80s. At least things are improving.

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    1. Ah the good ol' times of regularly seeing Royal Jordanian L1011 and Airbus 310-300 approaching over Sava...

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    2. There would be no "more than one". It is 5 pw just in 3 months of Air Serbia and 3 pw of Hainan. But when Hainan will start there would be 4 pw by Air Serbia. That is 6pw all together, less then one par day.

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    3. We are talking about the actual planes being on the ground at the same time based on Air Serbia's operational schedule and the presumptive schedule Hainan will have.

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  26. So HNA secures Beijing-Belgrade. HNA will probably win Belgrade concession and HNA will probably buy Jat Tehnika through SR Technics which has a base in Belgrade and was recently bought by HNA....

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    1. lol and eventually they take the 49% stake in Air Serbia from Etihad :D

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    2. Very good strategy

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    3. Too much monopolization in air transport sector if all of that happened.

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  27. Jel se zna GSA za Hainan u Srbiji?

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  28. It is very nice to read such news. Congrats BEG.

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    1. nothing is official yet. it is just a tentative request by a carrier.

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  29. Knew it would be a stopover although I thought they would resume Budapest and link it with BEG. I think the way Qatar operate to Belgrade and Zagreb when they started is the best. They were having stop-overs until the lines got sustainable.

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  30. Good to see more and more long haul flights coming to the region.

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  31. I remember reading comments here that this will never happen, that it is not possible that they will fly to BEG before OTP. Comments that we are "dreamers", "as if" and so on. Same as for the flights to New York really.

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    1. I guess they didn't come to Zagreb.

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    2. On routes over 5 hours, ZAG and BEG appear to have "one or the other, but not both" unwritten rule. ZAG has high demand for both New York and Peking but they are served from BEG. Belgrade has demand for Toronto but ZAG already has it. BEG has Abu Dhabi with Etihad, ZAG has Dubai with Emirates. The only one exception to this rule is Qatar.

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    3. Hmm well Belgrade has Dubai with flydubai.

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    4. But Flydubai doesn't fly to ZAG any more. Etihad will likely go widebody at some point after JU stops AUH so they will all be widebody routes except QR. If QR only had widebodies it would not serve both BEG and ZAG. Those two markets are barely big enough for one widebody.

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    5. Alen Šćuric PurgerMay 26, 2017 at 12:48 AM

      ZAG frequencie is 10 flights per week with A320/A321. That is some 1.630 passengers per week.

      That is same amount of seats like 7 flights per week with 787-8 or A330-200.

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    6. They wouldn't be able to catch that many pax from Turkish with a single wave.

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    7. EK has a spectacular network ex Dubai. They will steal a large chunk of the market which isn't that big anyway. I mean we've seen that they couldn't even get 100 passengers on the first flight out of Zagreb.

      Qatar was successful in Zagreb because they had narrowbodies. A B777 is an overkill. I mean in winter ZAG handles around 170.000 to 200.000 passengers.

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    8. Those data are not right. First 6 flights have 76-81% LF.

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  32. Please correct me if wrong. Make sure I got this right. On the BEG-PEK flight (and return) pax will have to fly (back-track a bit) to PRG and wait on the plane for 1-2 hours at the gate. Then fly on to PEK/BEG.
    What is the difference between transferring in IST say with a transit time of about two hours?

    A triangle route would have made more sense from a BEG view. Even better, Bucharest would have made more sense, again from a BEG perspective.

    Just trying to figure this out.

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    1. No need to change the plane,no need to go to another gate,no need to go through security once again,less chances your luggage to be lost as it remains in the same plane,no chance of missing connecting flight etc.

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    2. you don't go to security a second time if you're transferring. There is no security before the transit arrea

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    3. example: Minsk - Budapest (40min stay in BUD) - Belgrade.

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    4. Ever flown BEG-VIE-FRA or BEG-MUC-DUS? There is for sure security control for connecting pax.
      Only if you stay in the same plane you have no additional security control

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    5. I transfered at Heathrow last week on a flight from BEG to YYZ. And I did go through security check at Heathrow.

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    6. There is no security for transfers after intra-Schengen flights (for example, LYS-MUC-BEG, there will only be one security control at LYS; however BEG-MUC-LYS there will be two, at BEG and MUC).

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    7. I do not think that these flights via PRG are a true test of the viability of direct flights between BEG & PEK.
      First off, most people will still put price above convenience. Transfering through VIE or IST at a better price regardless of a 4-5 hr transit time.

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    8. This is a true test if there is enough demand for Belgrade as a destination for Chinese tourists all year long.

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    9. A better test would have been direct flights thrice weekly in summer, and twice weekly in winter.

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  33. Business class looks the same like in Etihad's B787s and A380s but they could have chosen much nicer textures.

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    1. Well, that's cultural differences for you. In China, dark red and gold are symbol of prosperity, and the colors of their flag. It is exactly the right choice for Chinese business class, regardless of our European aesthetics...

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  34. Wouldn't it be much easier for them to simply count how many passengers traveled between China and Serbia by transfer in 2016 and in Q1 of 2017 to see if there is demand than to test the market like this? This way their offer is not that competitive, I mean traveling to Prague and being stuck at the gate for 1-2 hours, it's the same as transferring at pretty much any place. It's even more logical to fly to China via Moscow (with SU, which carries most of the Serbia-China passengers and has decent fares) than Prague. To be honest, I don't think they should expect some major success with this, but good luck.

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    1. To be honest I don't think they ever planned to start these flights in the first place. 3 airlines were offered to operate these flights and Hainan and Air China were the only two that showed interest. With HNA looking to expand in the area they accepted the terms of flying to BEG. But the Serbian govt. wanted the flights to start as soon as possible and probably with a shove from the Chinese government they found the least loss making solution. Otherwise it would have made much more sense for them to start next summer and nonstop like you say.

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    2. You have the reasons why above.

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    3. @4:10

      Your argument holds for pax ex-BEG; however, Chinese will prefer their own company, with crew speaking Chinese, and tickets usually bought as part of the package. I don't even expect the prices from Belgrade to be attractive, actually, they'll try to sell it at a premium as a direct flight, even though it's not.

      @4:16 Well, 2 of 3 showing actual interest is a lot, not the other way around.

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  35. A tentative request filed with the administration is easily done and can easily be revoked. I will believe when I see it being put on sale with a timetable and fares.

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    1. Yeah and I read same comments like yours when Air Serbia applied for US permit to fly to New York.

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    2. Don't you just love this guy at 5.11pm ?

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  36. Just a heads up guys, Chineee airlines very often change launch dates even after they start selling tickets. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt this route will launch but just giving a warning. For example Beijing Capital Airlines has been pushing back its launch to Lisbon several times.

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    1. How many times has QR postponed the launch of Macedonia flights ??

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    2. Did they even launch?

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    3. It starts on July 17.

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