Thursday, September 7, 2017

Serbia steps up India flight plans


The Serbian government is intensifying talks for the launch of nonstop flights between New Delhi and Belgrade. As part of its plans to establish services between the two nations, Serbia has become the first European country to abolish visa requirements for Indian citizens. The measure came into effect last Friday. "This decision will enable the uninterrupted arrival of tourists, as well as potential investors in order to create a more favourable business environment and raise bilateral relations", the Serbian government said in a statement. The Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, previously noted that negotiations are taking place for the route to launch in the foreseeable future. The country recently amended its Air Service Agreement with India.

The Indian Ambassador to Serbia, Nerinder Chauhan, noted that the two sides are working on boosting air connectivity. "Today, tourism is a major driver of economic growth globally. In view of the fierce competition in tourist generating markets, it is necessary for both countries to cooperate in order to strengthen promotional and marketing efforts. The bilateral Air Services Agreement has been revised to promote better connectivity. In 2016 there was 26% year-on-year growth in the number of Serbian tourists visiting India". She added, "The Tourism Workshop of December 2016 brought together tourism organisations, tour operators etc., in order to create awareness. In the reverse direction, a familiarisation visit of Serbian tour operators to India will be organised. President Vučić’s interaction in Gujarat and Mumbai with India’s largest tour operator, SOTC Group, were also very fruitful in this direction".

The Serbian government has not indicated which carrier could operate the potential service, although a major Indian tour operator previously expressed interest for Air Serbia to run flights between New Delhi and Belgrade and shuttle travellers onwards to the region. It held talks with the Serbian government concerning the matter. For its part, Air Serbia has made no comment on the potential route. Its CEO, Dane Kondić, told EX-YU Aviation News earlier this year that there is little interest in charter flights from Belgrade to far-away markets. “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.

139 comments:

  1. If these flights happen then I see them taking place next summer.

    However, winter season is not so far away and things are looking up for BEG.

    - 2nd aircraft by Wizz Air
    - 3rd weekly on easyJet to GVA
    - 7 weekly flight to Istanbul
    - Transavia increases BEG from 3 to 6
    - 2 weekly on Hainan to Prague and Beijing
    - Qatar goes daily with the possibility of 10
    - flydubai increases DXB from 4 to 7

    Not bad, not bad at all.

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    1. Wizzair is cancelling Nuernberg from 10.November and Karlsruhe from 21.March.

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    2. I highly doubt the plane will sit at the airport, they will redirect it elsewhere.

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    3. - 4 weekly to VCE

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    4. since when has QR gone back from 321 to 320?

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  2. Interesting how Serbia works on getting these long haul flights. First they renegotiate bilateral air agreement, then they abolish visas and then flights begin.

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    1. I see a lot of potential. Rick Indians will come in hordes to visit Belgrade, stay there for 4-5 days and then fly back to DEL.

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    2. If you read the text, that is not the aim at all. The aim is for them to visit BEG and then go elsewhere in the region.

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    3. Aha so they fly to Serbia because they don't need visas, and then continue to countries where they need visas at the border. Clever!

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    4. They don't necessarily have to go to another country in the region, there is more than enough to see and do in Serbia.

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  3. I still find it hard to see who will use these flights.

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    1. The answer is in the text, try reading it once again.

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  4. How is it that the EU lets Serbia to be the only one in Europe to abolish visas for Chinese and Indians. Won't that create problems for accession?

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    1. Iranians too, their visas were suspended at the same time as for the Indians.

      Serbia is negotiating its accession but it will never happen. Serbia has way too much to lose from entering the Union.

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    2. Yep just realized Serbia is also the only country to let Iranians in visa free.

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    3. It's a smart move if you ask me. It worked very well with boosting Chinese tourists.

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    4. Why not? It's unlikely any of those entering Serbia would abuse the terms of visa free travel and stay to live in Serbia, something that might happen in certain EU countries. This is a really good way of boosting tourism.

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    5. Yeah, other European countries must be stupid for not abolishing visas hahaha

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    6. If you read my comment, I didn't say they were stupid. I in fact said that they had much more reasons for keeping a visa policy with those countries. Unlike them, Serbia doesn't have much to loose by abolishing those visas.

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    7. Anon 9:12, not many people would stay to live here in Serbia, so, if it works that way, Serbia would become country without visas required lol

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    8. wow you are really hilarious...

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    9. Very clever move.
      Serbia does not have to follow "EU visa policy" as it is not member of EU and especially not the member of Schengen agreement.
      For example Ireland is the memmber of EU but still keeps visa regime with Serbia although Schengen agreement countries abolished it.
      Why on the Earth would Serbia anyhow have to follow non exisiting EU visa policy?
      By abolishing visas for Indian, Iranian and Chinese passport holders Serbia is doing big favor to its tourism and possibly to its aviation industry.

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    10. OK, what if Serbia joins EU in several years? Won't it have to re-introduce visas for mentioned countries?

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    11. Why?
      Is there common EU foreign policy? (for example Kosovo recognition)
      Is there common EU visa policy?
      Is there still passport control between Schengen and non-Schengen EU countries?
      EU countries should first agree among themselves about the rules before forcing other countries to implement them

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    12. Frishki, these moves only go to show that no one takes the EU membership seriously.

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    13. @Nebojsa Popovic No. There isn't. That is only the case with Schengen countries and even there you have exceptions. Countries outside of Schengen have the right to independently implement visa regimes as they see fit, although they usually follow the majority. I assume that in the article, by going further on from Belgrade, they meant BiH, Montenegro (both of which aren't even EU members) and Croatia, which is a member, but it isn't part of Schengen. So Croatia could easily abolish visas for both Indian and Chinese citizens. Providing it has that requirement in the first place - I don't know. Abolishing visas for the Chinese especially, should go without saying, considering all the tourists.

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    14. Oh and if/when you become an EU member, you won't be made to re-inroduce visas for the Chinese, or Indians. Some other countries, like Pakistan, Iran, Arabian countries...etc. is another matter.

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  5. Waiting for conspiracies that in return for these flights Serbia will let the Indians get the airport concession.

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    1. Or cheap agricultural land. :D

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  6. Logically enough, JU is still part of EY so launching flights operated by Jet Airways is the most likely move. Not sure though how sustainable will those flights be. It's good to see Serbia aiming to take the lead in the region once again.

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    1. Etihad alliance is dead, no point in thinking in those terms.

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  7. Good work from Serbia. I assume these flights might happen next summer. They approved visa free travel for Chinese while they were negotiating flights to Beijing so the same is happening here.

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    1. Strategic planning for once

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    2. It is impressive that Serbia is trying to establish flights to all corners of the globe and increase tourism.

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    3. Tourism growth is listed as one of the strategic goals of this government, and although I have nothing nice to say about the current government, the number of tourists has grown significantly and the Serbian Tourism Board for once is actually doing its job.

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  8. I would prefer if they focused a bit more on negotiating flights to Canada rather than India.

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    1. They are
      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/07/serbia-and-canada-seek-air-service.html

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    2. Jet Airways could fly to Toronto via BEG. Since they are part of the same alliance Air Serbia could codeshare. Kill two flies with one stone that way.

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    3. 9W already has a TATL hub in Amsterdam. They don't need to fly to BEG.

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  9. Interesting. Still can't see JU flying this route with their constant consolidation and cost cutting. Anything like this would be way too risky.

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    1. If JU does open any other long haul route it will be to Toronto.

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    2. i really hope this is true. I have been waiting for these flights for 20 years as have so so many others.

      i know its a big push for them to start flight this winter. However 3 flights to JFK and 2 or 3 flights to YYZ would be very smart.

      If not winter 2017/2018 then summwr 2018.

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    3. It's unlikely anything like that can happen this winter. The bilateral between Serbia and Canada is still being renegotiated and the winter season starts in just a month and few weeks.

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    4. No need for winter flights. There is enough time to negotiate summer flights.

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  10. Indians, Chinese and Iranians entering Serbia without Visas. I support this, but once Serbia joins EU, it will need to bring the visas back for them though. Milk it while you can :)

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    1. True, similar to what Croatia did with Russians, until entering the EU.

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    2. Haha as a Serb I can tell you that there are more chances of Turkey entering the EU than Serbia. No one in his right mind will give up free trade with Russia.

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    3. What's the use of attracting those tourists? Are they particularly keen on spending or come in great numbers? I rearly see Indians in big cities or can imagine that they want to visit Serbia in particular? They would probably go to see Paris, London or Venice.

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    4. You mean the same way Chinese, Turks or Israelis don't have anything to do in Serbia?
      Also the fact that a tour operator is pushing for these flights only goes to show taht there is enough interest.

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    5. you can always create a demand right

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    6. @9:19,yeah, but Serbia will never enter EU, or EU will probably fall apart when we gain all (newer and newer) requirements.

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    7. Croats were saying the same and in the end they joined. I think Serbia will joing EU in 6 years or so.

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    8. Not the same. Croatia has always looked the West, Serbia not so much.
      Furthermore, support for EU keeps on falling.

      Don't forget how much money we are making from the free trade agreement with Russia.

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    9. Serbia have bigger trade exchange with Montenegro than with Russia. It imports more from Russia but exports more to Montenegro. That agreement is not that much beneficial for Serbia as many thinks. Serbia does 3/4 of the trade with EU and CEFTA countries.

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    10. It imports so much more from Russia because of gas. Serbia exports crazy amounts of food to Russia, especially agricultural products but chocolate as well.

      A chocolate factory in Loznica has recently hired another 50 workers because of increased export to the CIS region.

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    11. You overestimate your economic relationship with Russia and even more so the benefits of it. Additionally, there's no common EU visa policy, especially for non-Schengen countries. The only reason Croatia had to introduce visas for the Russians was because of the sanctions. I doubt the sanctions will still be in place by the time Serbia joins the EU. And join the EU it will. You have no other rational choice. Also that is your government's strategic course. You know, the government that the overwhelming majority of Serbs vote for.

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    12. Oh look, a Croat belittling ties with Russia while favouring ones with the EU. How shocking... not.

      Government might be doing one thing but the public opinion being a completely different thing. Look at popular support for the eu and you will know what I am talking about.

      Finally, there is a common visa policy of the EU and Brussels openly told Serbia that it will have to introduce visas for Russians, Chinese, Iranians... before going into the collapsing union

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  11. Interesting. That means that only BEG next to IST and VIE (in our wider region) would have non-stop flights to India. :O

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    1. If ZAG acts faster that is. After all, the gap in the traffic figures is getting narrower each and every time.

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    2. Zagreb hasn't even tried to get these flights so...

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    3. ZAG just got Emirates and I very much doubt the tourism ministry will do anything to put pressure on that route or create competition to it, which flights to India would.

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    4. Anon 09.28

      Sorry to burst you bubble but this year the gap is not getting any narrower.

      Added passengers this year:

      BEG: 292.230
      ZAG: 141.143

      In August alone BEG added an extra 50.000 passengers which is roughly 30% of ZAG's whole year.

      I guess you were looking the growth percentage but those numbers are misleading because you need to take into consideration the number to which they refer.

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    5. haha well percentages do not seem to be your strength too. 50k is 30% of ZAGs whole year? SO Zag has 160k Pax per year? OK!

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    6. No, read more carefully. It's 30% of the extra passengers added so far this year.

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    7. ZAG 2002 1,203,436 passengers
      BEG 2002 1,621,798 passengers

      Difference 418.362 passengers

      ZAG 2016 2,766,087 passengers
      BEG 2016 4,924,992 passengers

      Difference 2,158,905 passengers

      Gap is getting narrower :-)

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    8. hahaha so true. I hope he was trolling.

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    9. Joj Purgeru strasno. Nista vas ne spasava ni interkontinentalni saobracaj.

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    10. ZAG has added approx 195.000 pax this year so far, not 160.000

      The gap has slightly reduced in the last 2 years...this year ZAG 3,1 mil vs. BEG 5,3 mil...ZAGs growth rate a bit higher for the last 3 years. Still considerable difference yet not impossible to further reduce sugnificantly...ZAG has this traffic dispersion problem with lots of airports. It has to work twice as hard...Zagreb as a tourist destination #1 in EX Yu, so far +18% in arrivals, 830k, probably 1,35 mil by the end of the year. It says something...

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    11. Zagreb is doing just fine, especially considering that Croatia has 3 major international airports with over 2 million pax annually. It'll add about 300,000 pax this year, compared to 180,000 last year, 150,000 the year becore that and 130,000 year before that. If like in Serbia Zagreb was the only airport worth a mention, it would have over 8 million passengers by now. And the country is basically only half the size of Serbia.
      So this arrogance as if BEG was so superior is comical.

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    12. No, it wouldn't be handling 8 million as those heading to dbv would fly into tiv. Those going to istra would fly into vce so that leaves us with the central coast and spu.
      However, if spu had no airport it would also have minimal demand for tourism. In conclusion, zag would have a minimal increase if it was the only airport in the country.

      Furthermore, timisoara, budapest or tuzla are closer to belgrade than spu or dbv are to zag.

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  12. Qatar and fly dubai will loose some passengers. I'm going on an India tour holiday this October. Booked with Kon tiki travel. We will be flying with Qatar Airways.

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  13. Very nice. Good work Serbia on being proactive on getting long haul flights.

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  14. Indian investment in Serbia has grown significantly in last few years. Just this year they opened a noddle factory in Serbia, filmed several Bollywood movies in the country and invested in IT Park, agro machinery and Pharma including Ayurveda.

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    1. the noddle factory is from Indonesia not India :D

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    2. Oops my bad you are right. Still the other ones are correct :D

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    3. So the Jakarta route is around the corner :))

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    4. haha what a ridiculous country we are :D

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    5. Naah ZAG is planning flights to Jakarta once Garuda buys OU.

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  15. Very interested to see which airline would operate these flights.

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  16. Interesting but I doubt it will materialize.

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  17. The only way flights from India could work is if an airline operated an onward transatlantic service.

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  18. It would be very nice having flights to the US, China and India from BEG.

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    1. All that's missing then would be Canada.

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  19. Oh please... no chance of this happening.

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    1. The same was said for flights to the US and China.

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  20. This could be a good opportunity for Air Serbia to deploy its A330 somewhere this winter rather than sitting on the tarmac for 3 days of the week.

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    1. It's probably cheaper to keep the plane on the ground.

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    2. I agree with anon 10.38. Air Serbia really has to do something with its A330 during the winter. I'm not saying they should fly to India but it is a good option since the rotation is shorter.

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    3. A 787 would be much more economical on this route than a A330.

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    4. Yes but Air Serbia has no B787.

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    5. Bi malo sutra za poneki carter od 2800nm. Kad bi ti neko poklonio 787 za dzabe, e onda bi.

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  21. Long distance travel from India (other than diaspora travel) is done quite differently than other countries. Is done mostly through union travel. Basically workers from a company are given a trip to somewhere. Similar to what used to be once upon a time in Yugoslavia on domestic routes.

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  22. Can a flights from New Delhi to Belgrade operate with a narrow body?

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    1. Only a NEO can do it.

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    2. Well Indigo has 400 orders for neo planes and as far as I can remember their owner is the one that expressed interest for flights to start between New Delhi and Belgrade.

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  23. Abolishing visas for such countries is a very stupid move... And then somebody will start complaining about refugees lol

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    1. It's not stupid at all. It boosts tourism. I doubt anyone from China will ask for refugee status in Serbia.

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    2. Serbia has a visa regime with Afghanistan yet there are so many of their immigrants in the country.

      Plus, the last time I checked India wasn't a source of mass illegal immigration to Europe.

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  24. Good luck Serbia. Would be nice seeing an Indian airline in BEG.

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  25. Can money be made on this route?

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    1. Well, there is a plane involved, paying passengers and a tour operator so I guess yes.

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    2. There is nothing to doubt. Airline does not sell seats, tour operator does. No risk for the airline.

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  26. Another vanity project brought to you by the Serbian government.

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    1. Seems all those 'vanity projects' are becoming a reality.

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    2. At the expense of tax payers,

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    3. How would this service be at the expense of tax payers exactly? Or the one from Beijing?

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    4. Beograd na vodi

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    5. Beograd na vodi ce platiti turistima iz Indije dolazak u Beograd? Sampion bezumlja.

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  27. Bulgaria planned flights to India last year although it was BH Air. There was some sort of complication. Can't remember what it was exactly.

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    1. Just because it doesn't work from one country, doesn't mean it will be the same from the other. BH also planned to fly to the US last year and nothing came of it.

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    2. Nothing came out of it, because of the Indian complications. The plans were to transfer passengers from India to the JFK, but after the Indians denied their request. They canceled the entire project with huge losses for the company.

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  28. Miodrag Popović, direktor Turističke organizacije Beograda, kaže da je u poslednjih godinu dana broj indijskih turista u našoj zemlji znatno povećan i da im je u Srbiji najinteresantnija kultura, koja je potpuno drugačija od njihove.
    - Indija je druga po veličini zemlja po broju stanovnika i shodno tome turisti iz te zemlje su mnogobrojni. Naša zemlja ih privlači zbog dačije kulture, ali i zbog noćnog provoda prestonice. Činjenica da dolaze u potpuno drugi kraj sveta za njih predstavlja pravu avanturu, poznati su po tome da troše dosta novca na putovanjima, što je idealna prilika za Beograd i Srbiju da iskoriste svoje potencijale - kaže Popović i dodaje da se uveliko radi na sklapanju aranžmana sa njihovim turističkim agencijama.
    - Uskoro nam dolaze tur-operateri iz indijskih turističkih agencija sa kojima ćemo napraviti aranžmane za koje su zainteresovani. Nemamo direktnu avionsku liniju iz Srbije do Indije, ali zahvaljujući "Etihadu" presedanjem se brzo može stići od Indije do Srbije - kaže Popović.

    Mali: Počeli smo kampanju u IndijiGradonačelnik Beograda Siniša Mali kaže da smo uspostavili kontakte sa tur-operaterima i medijima iz Indije i da će to biti početak naše kampanje na tom velikom tržištu.
    - Pozvali smo ih da posete Beograd u toku turističke sezone i da nakon toga upoznaju svoje građane sa potencijalima grada. Turistima iz Indije najzanimljivija je naša kultura, koja se potpuno razlikuje od njihove, zatim običaji, muzika, naša istorija, kulinarska ponuda i uopšte način na koji mi živimo - rekao je Mali.

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  29. I really hope this materialises :)

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  30. This is great news for Belgrade Airport and Serbia.

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  31. All Mr. Kondic can say is that there is no market even without trying; does he have any ambition left to grow that airline or is he only a master to cut cost and shrink JU?

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    1. He is not even a master in cutting and shrinking given that it was orchestrated by Etihad.

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  32. Somebody needs to tell them that there were less than 3,300 passengers flying from whole India to Belgrade in 2016.

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    1. And someone needs to tell you that this route will be for Indian tourists who have never been to Serbia.

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    2. Anon 2:28> If the plan is to let Ryanair operate the route for 10 bucks a tkt, than it's ok. Otherwise the government officers' advisers don't seem to have more knowledge than you about the aviation business.

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    3. Yeah and I guess you do.

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    4. Anon 2:28-3:54> Look what I wrote above, and think once again!

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    5. Let's open routes to all the countries that had at least couple of thousands of travelers. That alone is enough for route to be viable.
      Genius!

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  33. Possible long haul new additions for Belgrade in 2018, in order of escalating optimism:

    1 - JU once weekly to DEL as a winter seasonal charter
    2 - JU to DEL plus HU going nonstop to PEK 3pw
    3 - previous step plus Air Canada Rouge 2-3pw Toronto summer seasonal
    4 - previous step plus JU getting second A330 for daily JFK and 3pw ORD
    5 - previous step plus third A330 for PVG, more charters to DEL and BOM etc

    Everything up to 4 seems possible while 4 and 5 might have to stay on the wishlist for now. We'll find out in the next couple of months.

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  34. Kondic as CEO must be more creative. JU used to fly to Milan on B707 and then charter the flight full of tourists to the far East so if Serbia is a small market why could not a similar scheme work for the randomly used A330. Of course you need marketing professionals with skills and not to look at the situation that nothing can be done. Having it sit on the tarmac is the easiest answer.

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  35. Nobody mentioned about the IT industry. India and Serbia can work together in this sector. Many IT specialists can work in Serbia. Tourism makes less money compared to IT.

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  36. Anon @ 5.34pm ... do you actually know how the charter market works ?? In order for the A330 to not sit on the ground, you actually need a tour operator who steps up to say that they will charter the aircraft and put together tour programs/packages to then sell in the market. The airline doesn't do this - they simply operate the aircraft on behalf of a tour operator.

    Given the fares that QR, EY and TK offer on the market, it is significantly cheaper and much less risky for them to purchase block space on scheduled operators.

    There is no market in Serbia for such a big sized aircraft for tour operators to want to take the plunge

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Biggest tour operator in India actually offered all that. It's clearly written in the text.

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    2. At a price which was significantly less than the cost of operating the aircraft... so they didn't really offer anything. Moreover, to operate a charter on behalf of an Indian tour operator means operating 2 empty legs, which adds significant cost.

      The fact that no indian airline is interested in doing this, despite the plethora of airlines in India - including the national carrier Air India - says everything

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    3. If tour operator doesn't want to pay fair price, all the effort with ASA and visa-free is for nothing. There will be no Air Serbia charters to New Delhi.

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