Friday, November 17, 2017

airBaltic eyes EX-YU expansion


Latvia's national carrier airBaltic has confirmed it is considering resuming services to Belgrade, as well as plans to continue expanding on the Croatian coast. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News at the Dubai Airshow, airBaltic's CEO, Martin Gauss, said, "We are always discussing Belgrade. It is on the list of routes we are looking at launching and if it makes sense, out of all the routes that we could fly to, we would definitely go there. Belgrade is extremely interesting to us and the route has potential. Network expansion is a key part of our 'Horizon 2021' business plan that enables us to further improve connections between the Baltic region and the rest of the world". The Latvian carrier introduced flights between Riga and Belgrade in 2009 but the route was suspended two years later despite recording better than expected results. Flights were discontinued along with several other destinations as the carrier struggled with financial problems and a fleet shortage at the time. Initially, the route was downgraded to seasonal summer operations before it was discontinued altogether. During the 2011 summer season, from April until the end of August, the carrier handled 8.719 passengers on 82 flights to and from the Serbian capital.

airBaltic will introduce a new seasonal service from Riga to Split next summer season with flights to operate twice per week on the airline's new 145-seat Bombardier CS300 aircraft. airBaltic is the launch customer of the type. The airline already flies seasonally to both Dubrovnik and Rijeka. However, Mr Gauss ruled out introducing year-round services to Zagreb and Ljubljana at this point. He noted, "There is good connectivity there with Croatia Airlines and Adria. You are set up well in that region and linked with Lufthansa hubs to Munich and Vienna. If there was no connectivity I'm sure we could do something more on these markets but we are focusing on expanding first where we can see that we can fill aircraft the easiest, as all airlines do".

The Latvian carrier showcased its new CS300 jet in Dubai this week, which will act as a replacement for its Boeing 737-300s and B737-500s, joining a fleet of twelve Bombardier Q400 turboprops to serve routes throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East. It already boasts seven CS300s in its fleet with a further thirteen on order. In cooperation with Etihad Airways, this October airBaltic launched the longest nonstop service operated by the 145-seat jet between Riga and Abu Dhabi. The airline has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia, maintaining flights to the Croatian coast. It also has a wide-ranging codeshare agreement with Air Serbia. As a result, the Serbian carrier has placed it “JU” designator code and flight numbers onto 47 weekly services operated by airBaltic between Riga and Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna, as well as between Tallinn and Vienna. In return, airBaltic has its “BT” flight code on 56 weekly flights operated by Air Serbia between Belgrade and Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna.

112 comments:

  1. They had very reasonable prices from BEG, especially for connections to Russia.

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  2. I'm surprised they don't fly more to ex-Yu and haven't considered Zagreb or Ljubljana too.

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    1. It says in the text why they are not considering ZAG and LJU.

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    2. Not many Croats travel to Riga or Latvia, many Latvians holiday in Croatia. So logic dictates flights to Zagreb are not ideal, Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Pula and Rijeka make more sense.

      Finnair, SAS and Aer Lingus will likely come to Zagreb in late 2018 or early 2019. Return of Brussels Air, Czech airlines and quite possibly EasyJet and TAP in 2018 could also happen.

      Eventually perhaps in 2020 or after airBaltic might show up too, however no need to rush things, AerLingus, SAS, Finnair, TAP and easyJet are far bigger fish.




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    3. BT has been building a serious hub for years now. It's not about p2p as it is about the transfer market which seems to be lacking in ZAG (for them).

      I don't see Finnair launching Zagreb any time soon, other are more likely.

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  3. As far as I see it, they didn't rule out seasonal flights to either Zagreb or Ljubljana, just excluded year round flight options.

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  4. Great news. I hope they do come back.

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    1. They could always start off with seasonal flights to BEG and see how that performs before going year round.

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  5. How many times per week were they flying to BEG back in 09-11?

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    1. 3 weekly and then they increased it up to 4 weekly flights.

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    2. Was it flown by the Dash or the Boeing plane?

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    3. Thanks. That must have been a loong ride.

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    4. It was mostly operated by the F100.

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    5. When he Q400 operated the route, flight time was almost 3 hours.

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    6. I think it was scheduled as 02.45. The Bombardier is perfect for BEG-RIX.

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    7. I agree, CS300 would be way too large for this route.

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    8. It might be the perfect aircraft but that must have been an uncomfortable flight sitting in a turboprop for so long.

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    9. Sorry, I meant the CS300, not the Q400. The Q400 is horrible on such a long flight. However back then it was the best aircraft they could dispatch.
      That is why the moment they leased that Croatian F100 they sent it to BEG.

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    10. Didn't they also have Avro 100s?

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    11. Ages ago, I think they retired them over a decade ago. They also had the -85 variant. It was the time when they had that blue B livery on their tailes.

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  6. That CS300 looks good. Would be a perfect aircraft for either Air Serbia or Croatia Airlines.

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    1. I think it would be too big for both of them. It has 145 seats.

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    2. I agree, they need something smaller that can handle about 100 passengers.

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    3. CS100 perhaps.

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  7. Lets hope some of these considerations turn into a reality.

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  8. Will be a nice sight in Split :)

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  9. Is there really demand between Serbia and the Baltics?

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    1. No. They handled mostly transfers to Russia and Scandinavia. If they were to start flying now, their main competitor would LOT.

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    2. No but BT carried transfer passengers to the Nordics, LED and SVO.

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    3. Their main strong point was their relateively low price.

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    4. Glavni su im adut sve te silne plavuse.

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    5. I would say Scandinavia (Serbian diaspora) and former CIS is where the demand would come from.

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  10. I bet they will launch Belgrade in June 2018.

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    1. Decent business class, pay on board in economy.

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    2. Thanks. I'm surprised they even offer a business class.

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  11. Anyone flown with them? What's their service like?

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    1. Like a decent version of Wizz Air

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    2. I have flown with them on the route

      VIE-RIX-HEL-RIX-VIE

      VIE-RIX was on CS300
      RIX-HEL was on Q400

      CS300 is really good and crew was also really good. I was allowed to visit the flight deck both times on CS300. There was buy-on-board service available with reasonable prices. They also offer preorderd meals and snacks.
      Transfer in RIX is easy as the airport is relatively small and new.
      Q400 were not in a very good shape. But still better than JU ATR72. However these aircraft are ok for the flights up to 1.5 hours in my opinion.

      They are planning on retirement of aging Q400 aircraft and introduction of CS100 in order to operate all CSeries fleet as they are very satisfied with CS300 performance.

      BTW, First Officer I spoke with was from Serbia.

      All in all, good airline, would recommend them.

      Haplek

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    3. Flown with them in 2012 VIE-RIX-VIE. Outbound B734, inbound Q400. 737 was good but the age shows and it was quite a noisy ride, the same goes for the Q400. RIX-VIE on a Q400 is too long in my humble opinion and I felt super tired after the flight. Crew was ok, not super friendly but also not rude. Decent prices of stuff on board. Overall decent airline.

      I´m just surprised no one is bashing them because they also charge for water just like Adria.

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  12. They were in an absolute mess when they ended BEG and I was always hoping they would come back. They are in a much better position now.

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    1. Things have certainly changed. Last time they were flying to Belgrade they were interested in buying Jat. Baltic Aviation Systems, which is a part owner air Baltic was the only airline to purchase the tender documentation.

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    2. Seems like it was a hundred years ago. Completely forgot about that.

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  13. BT should look at ZAG, even if it is well connected to Lufthansa hubs. There is a need for more competition here especially to Northern Europe.

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    1. Agree but from what I hear, the prices at ZAG airport are quite destimulating for many carriers interested in starting flights.

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    2. But ZAG also offers discounts for first time airlines.

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    3. I think their problem is that there is limited demand from ZAG to destinations they are after.

      They do promote a lot of cheap flights to Russia but demand is limited from here. If that wasn't true then SU would have more flights.

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    4. It is true that Zagreb offers good incentives for new airlines but I do agree that the market that they are after (transfers to certain countries) is well covered from ZAG for the demand that exists.

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    5. +1

      That's why they are going for the coast where most of the seats are sold to Latvian tourists.

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    6. I believe there isn't enough of demand for these direct routes (just yet), but yeah, ZAG offers incentives, just like many other airports looking for an expansion.
      Had few guests this summer from these parts that actually drove all the way here.

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  14. That codeshare seems so odd. Who is going to fly Belgrade-Riga and then to Amsterdam, Berlin or Vienna?

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    1. Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna are connecting airports for those flying from Belgrade to Riga. As in the fly on JU to one of those airports and then they continue their journey on airBaltic.

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    2. Isn't it RIX-VIE-BEG?

      That indicates BEG is also well connected to RIX with a one stop routing. Baltic is flying twice daily to Vienna for example. Let alone connections via many other European cities.

      I doubt that ZAG has so much better connections. The LJU market is most likely currently still too small for them.

      Quite sure the real reason for BEG in Exyu is that it's simply the biggest single market and the stronger ties of Serbia towards the East to Russian (speaking) countries will also play a role.

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    3. Volim ovakve eksperte. Koji imaju i oni grad u Rusiji gde ne leti AS i Aviolet i ruske kompanije?

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    4. @10:26 LOL! You might be one of very few deniers who dont think (admit) that SRB and RUS have closer ties compared to CRO/RUS or SVN/RUS.

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    5. Авиолет не лети за Русију. ;)

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    6. Pitanje je koji grad imaju? Nemaju ni jedan.

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    7. Као прво, лете за LED током целе године што није случај са Ер Србијом.

      Ове дестинације могу бити занимљиве из Београда:

      Кијев
      Казањ
      Москва (лете ка три аеродрома док је Београд повезан само са једним)
      Одеса


      Уз све то имају тону летова ка Шведској, Финској као и ка бившем Совјетском савезу.

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    8. Znaci samo LED u zimskom periodu, lepo sam te pitao za Rusiju ka Svedskoj mozes sa mnogo linija sa Balkana.

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    9. Казањ је исто тако у Русији плус имаш и друга два аеродрома у Москви ка којима нема летова из Београда.

      Уз то, БТ би нудио летове ка Балтику и Финској.

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    10. Sve je to pokriveno sa blizih aerodroma. Vec sam napisao da vecina odleti tamo letovima Avioleta. AS je hteo da leti valjda Krasnoda. Moj prijatelj je koristio njih za letove Finska Nemacka, jer su tako trazile gazde dodatno nepotrebno maltretiranje radne snage za 20 jura. Kome uopste trebaju ti drugi aerodromi u Moskvi? Petorici ljudi godisnje koji idu na ekspedicije po Rusiji.

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    11. Аман о чему причаш човече? Који црни Авиолет који је чартер и који углавном лети ка летовалиштима.

      Погледај колико је БТ имао путника када су летели за Београд. Покидали су. Дакле имаш црно на бело да су били успешни што значи да потражње постоји.

      То што ти не видиш разлог да неко негде лети не значи да је и тако.

      И о којим ти то оближњим аеродромима причаш? Будимпешти? Доба када су Београђани ишли тамо да лете је давно прошло. Те бројке су смешне данас.

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    12. А што се тиче московских аеродрома, ај баци поглед на Москву и обрати пажњу на њену величину и где су ти аеродроми лоцирани.

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    13. Last anon

      +1000000

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  15. I think that ZAG have bigger chance than BEG to attract BT.

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    1. Well in the text the CEO seems to mention Belgrade as the likeliest new destination in the region.

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    2. hahahahahahaha

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    3. It is quite obvious for BT to first eye BEG - see explanations above. I am sure however once BEG is successful they will think about ZAG next.

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  16. What about Skopje or Ohrid?

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    1. Not sure there is demand from Skopje to the Baltics, especially since SKP is connected even to the village of Vaxjo in Scandinavia so the region is well covered.

      What I could see eventually happening is summer seasonal flights to places like Ohrid and Tivat.

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    2. Maybe a few charters a year to Ohrid are possible, remember Nordica/LOT is starting some Tallinn flights.

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  17. I don't get it. Are they somehow linked to Lufthansa for their explanation to be that they don't want to fly somewhere because of the city's good LH connectivity?

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    1. airBaltic has a good agreement with Austrian Airlines so I guess that has something to do with it. They operate two daily flights into VIE and offer quite good onward connections, on both ends.

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    2. They do operate closely with the Lufthansa Group member airlines.

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  18. Hmmm looking at those figures those were some very good loads to Belgrade. Who would have thought Air Baltic out of all airlines. Hope they come back.

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    1. Could you possibly calculate the average LF, that is if they flew with the same aircraft type.

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    2. They used to send many different aircraft so it's very difficult to know the exact LF.

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    3. It's tricky but if we take into consideration that their F100 had 110 seats then they offered a total of 9.020 seats while 8.719 passengers flew the route.

      I remember they sent their Boeing a few times. In general it seems they were quite full.

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    4. That was 2009 and we are soon in 2018.

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    5. And how much larger is the Serbian market today? ;)

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    6. Good point. BEG has grown quite a bit due to transfer pax, not sure how much of the growth is Serbia in/out bound.

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    7. Belgrade added maybe 500.000 in transfer passengers. This number is being reduced as Air Serbia's network keeps on shrinking.

      Look at how many frequencies foreign airlines have added over the years.

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  19. These morons are still dreaming to sell the company to Etihad, that's why they launched the funny RIX-AUH service recently and always had BEG ops in their mind even though the route was proven not viable commercially (just to extend the cooperation with EY and its minions at first step). Hilarious story!

    It looks like even Air Berlin and Alitalia cases were not enough to discourage these brave Latvians. Go on guys, never lose your hope.

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    1. What are you going on about? RIX-BEG was launched before EY

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    2. Read again: The route was operated and terminated in 2011 cause it has been found not feasible. But after that EY bought shares of JU and despite the RIX-BEG route was tried and proven not feasible by the very same company, its genius owners (Latvian government) wanted to (and still want to) return back to BEG just to be closer to EY minions hoping that one day EY could invest in their company too. More clear now?

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    3. Absolute nonsense. Take a look at how fast BT is expanding and then you will know that it has nothing to do with your conspiracy theory.

      Also you have the numbers up there that show that the route was not a failure. They did not return because of their own internal problems.

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    4. I think you should read the article again. The route was suspended because they had a lack of aircraft. BEG was one of the longest routes in their network, taking out a plane for 8 hours.

      But of course you need a theory on why they would consider BEG since god forbid it isn't ZAG.

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  20. Good. BEG needs new carriers to lower JU's market share and force it to lower prices.

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    1. You obviously don't fly much as fares out of Belgrade, JU included, are quite low.

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    2. JU's market share is the lowest of all ex-Yu airlines at around 50% in BEG.

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    3. JU fares quite low? They were promoting flights to STR for 200 EUR a few weeks ago! London and Paris can only be dreamed of below 350 EUR, and even regional destinations (SJJ, SOF) are rarely under 150 EUR.

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    4. JU's market share is 50%. Croatia Airlines' in Zagreb is 64%, Adria's in Ljubljana is 65%. Wizz Air's in Skopje 55%. Over 20 airlines fly to Belgrade and a low cost airline has a base there and will be further expanding next year. Don't know what kind of monopoly you are talking about.

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    5. Well, Tarom flies out of Belgrade yet they charge more than JU. How about that?

      STR is a two hour flight, how much do you want to pay? €50? That's not realistic.

      If you think JU is too expensive you can always take Wizz Air to Baden Baden.

      In my opinion, two hour flights are ok to be between €150 and €200.

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    6. How exactly is Wizz Air expanding in BEG next year when they have already posted their schedule and there are no changes.

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    7. A return bus ticket to Nis from Belgrade is around 3.000 Dinars. I think €200 to Stuttgart is more than ok.

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    8. But a return ticket from Nis or Belgrade to Memingen is between 30 and 100 euros, plus train to Stuttgart which is cheap, ends up more than half the price of Air Serbia.

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    9. JU fares to London, at least, are ripoff.

      Need another airline here. Ryanair or Easy as they won't be constrained with slots at LGW, although Norwegian would be able to capture transfer passengers to N America via LGW.

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    10. STR is not a two-hour flight lol, it's barely 1h15min. I don't feel OK paying 200 EUR for a total of 150 mins of flying.

      "If you think JU is too expensive you can always take Wizz Air to Baden Baden."

      That's exactly what I did, Friedrichshafen outbound and Baden Baden inbound. Total cost 50 EUR, with the trains still less than 100 EUR.

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    11. JU to LHR is that expensive because LHR is ripping its customers off. On top of their already high charges they have increased them by 20% about a year ago!
      That said, JU to LHR is packed all the time meaning that the market is wealthy enough to afford that price.

      Those who can't can enjoy all the Wizz Air and Luton charms for much less money.

      Finally, you can't compare JU and W6. One of the two is not backed by an investment fund. ;)

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    12. BEG-STR is 90 minutes long, not 1 hour 15 minutes. Mind you this is the actual flying time, block time is about 20 minutes longer.

      Maybe if ASL and other legacies flew to random shacks in the middle of nowhere then their prices would be lower.

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    13. Both JU and W6 are packed, and Wizz is no longer that cheap, which is why it would be good to see another player test the market.

      How many of JU's passenger to LHR are transfering ?

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    14. Not that many, most used to continue to JFK on Virgin.

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  21. good to see this region is on their radar.

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  22. Air Baltic to connect Scandinavia with Balkans. Whatever.
    On a different note the only Scandinavian country with significant ex yu diaspora is Sweden, yet 90% of them fly via Copenhagen. And there's by far more Bosnians than all others combined. Sweden needs a connection to Sarajevo!! :)

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    1. Norwegian flies from Stockholm to Sarajevo year round.

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    2. I think SK also tried to fly from Sweden but it didn't really work out. I guess you are overestimating the market potential.

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