Monday, April 23, 2018

Syria's Cham Wings plans Belgrade service


Syria's largest privately-owned carrier, Cham Wings Airlines, plans to launch flights between Damascus and Belgrade this summer pending government approval. According to the "Aviatica" portal, the carrier has filed a request for a permit with the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate for three weekly flights, each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from June 1. Under its planned scheduling, the carrier has requested an arrival time of 13.00 CEST in the Serbian capital, with the return service leaving at 15.00. It is uncertain whether the airline will be granted approval by the Serbian regulator. Cham Wings has been targeted by United States sanctions against Syria. Several thousand Syrians have requested asylum in Serbia over the past few years, while the two countries maintain embassies in each others' capitals.

In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, Cham Wings Airlines confirmed it was seeking approval for services to Belgrade, noting that it currently maintains flights to Dusseldorf and Munich in Europe (in cooperation with Iran's Mahan Air). In addition, the airline operates scheduled services throughout the Middle East and Africa, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Lebanon with its fleet of four Airbus A320 aircraft. Despite the ongoing civil war in Syria, Damascus Airport has been operating normally in recent years, closing only for several hours two weeks ago when the US, UK and France launched limited air strikes on the country. Other operators, including Syrian Arab Airlines and FlyDamas continue to maintain flights out of Damascus, although all international carriers, bar Mahan Air, suspended services to the country upon the outbreak of war.

Belgrade and Damascus were last linked with a scheduled air service a decade ago. In 2008 Jat Airways suspended flights to the Syrian capital along with a handful of other destinations such as Tirana, Prague, Malta and Tripoli, as part of its cost cutting measures. Services to the Syrian capital operated via Beirut at the time with Jat holding fifth freedom rights on the very short sector. Belgrade Airport has attracted several new carriers this year, including three from Iran, while Russia's Red Wings Airlines also plans to launch operations from Moscow to the Serbian capital this summer. In addition, a number of foreign carriers have increased either frequencies or capacity to the city.

131 comments:

  1. Well this is a surprise

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  2. 3 times a week? Any idea what market they’re targeting? I doubt Serbia will be granting visa free access to Syrians given the refugee crisis.

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    1. What is interesting is that Jat used to fly to Damascus until relatively recently. I wonder who they were transporting as well.

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    2. Maybe they flew it for Syrians. In yugo times there were many Syrian students studying in Belgrade. A lot of them married and stayed in Serbia.

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    3. True. This is why flights to Tripoli were kept until 2008. In fact there are many Libyan students still studying in Belgrade even now. Mostly medicine.

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    4. There’s actually a sizeable Libyan community in Belgrade. Libyan school as well as a halal butcher/cafe catered for Libyans.

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    5. Actually, there were a lot of Serbs living in Tripoli as well. Those flights were primarily for them. There were several thousand of them down there.

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    6. True I forgot about that. There were particularly nurses, construction workers and engineers.

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    7. Flights to Seria were operated together with either Cairo or Beirut, depending on years. There is a Syrian community (former students) plus Serbian companies used this flight to Damascus up until 2003 when it was not possible to fly to Iraq.

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  3. I honestly don't know who would fly on this route unless it will be uses to deport those whose asylum request has been refused in Europe.

    Regardless, nice to see another airline at BEG.

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    1. Syrians living in Europe who want to visit their family.

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  4. sorry, but there are no flights from Damascus to MUC and DUS!

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    1. Actually they have flown to both this year. They advertised it as advertised transporting Syrian refugees in Germany from Munich to Damascus and back.

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    2. via Teheran

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    3. Cham has no rights to land in the EU

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    4. They said themselves that they fly to European destinations.

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    5. haha, sure.

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    6. Actually someone posted a link below. Flights to Munich and Dusseldorf are operated in cooperation with Mahan Air.

      https://correctiv.org/recherchen/flucht/artikel/2018/01/30/einmal-munchen-damaskus-und-zuruck/

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    7. via Beirut and Teheran. there are no flights between Damascus and Europe

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    8. There are direct flights from Damascus to Europe. There are no non-stop flights.

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    9. kad ti kazes onda morea biti tako

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    10. Човек је у праву, ако мислиш да није онда слободно дај аргументе. ;)

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    11. He is correct. There are no nonstop flights (without landing somewhere before) but there are direct flights (with a stop in a third country). In this case it is Tehran.

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    12. No it's neither non stop nor direct. You cannot have a direct flight when you need to change the plane and even the air carrier at an intermediate transfer point.

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    13. That's just stupid. How does flying to Damascus via Tehran from Europe make any sense?

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  5. Probably for people who are stuck in Serbia for months and want to return and eventually for those who manage to get a Serbian visa and they hope to cross Hungarian border illegally ...

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    1. With 3 flights on a Boeing per week?

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    2. Sorry Airbus A320

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  6. So BEG will have scheduled flights to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Damascus, Beirut and Tel Aviv in the Middle East.

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    1. I would also add Hurgada. Ok, it's in Africa but it's not far from the Middle East and Egypt does consider itself as a Middle Eastern country.

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    2. True. If you include the MENA region then one should add Hurghada and Tunis as year round routes operated from/to BEG.

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  7. having VINCI in house now i doubt they will allow this

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    1. Why should VINCI care will those flights be used by illegal migrants or not?

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    2. because VINCI is from EU

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    3. If I remember correctly it is the EU that opened the doors to migrants so...

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    4. for humantitarian reasons ...

      and also insisted the Balkan route to be closed. dont be naive

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    5. Cham will pay to land at BEG so Vinci should not care. Anyway, they are not the ones to decide, it's the directorate.

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    6. +1 last anon.

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    7. Unfortunately if it's a matter of sanctions then there is a list online of countries, entities, diplomats/nationals, etc, who are sanctioned. Vinci probably files this list - especially if they are working with any US entities because the US would disintegrate any contracts on this basis. In Australia there is no issue to book travel to Cuba. Although any US travel offices (Amex, CWT, etc) are not permitted to book unless getting approval. This applies to any sanctioned country and dealing with entities that sanctioned even in non-sanctioned countries

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    8. Vinci would only have a problem if it operated an airport in the US. Otherwise there is no problem.

      Don't forget that France is heavily investing in Iran.

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  8. Doubt it will happen.

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  9. I like their livery.

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  10. Well the war in Syria is pretty much over.

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  11. Guys, Cham Wings Airlines is in fact Mahan Air. now you get the connection ;)

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    1. well now it makes more sense. How many times per week is Mahan flying to Belgrade?

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    2. Mahan operated a few charters around Norouz and they should be back with two weekly schedueld flights soon.

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    3. They already operate those two weekly scheduled flights since 6th April every Monday and Friday with A310.

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    4. As initially reported, those were operated for about two weeks. They should be back in May again. Right now it's only Qeshm and Iran Air.

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    5. Yes but Mahan Air is flying to Belgrade for Iranian tourists. Iranians can get in to Serbia without visas. Still doesn’t explain why Cham Wings Airlines is coming.

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    6. Like I wrote below, it could simply be that they want to start flying to Europe. Obviously they can't fly with their own equipment into the EU so they decided on a destination that is close, where there are Syrians, that isn't hostile towards them and that is a market where others from Europe could easily reach them.

      There is a huge immigrant community (not just the latest wave) from Syria living in Europe who want to visit their friends and family. The war in Syria is pretty much at an end.

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    7. So they might do it with stop in Iran or directly?

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  12. more about this airline:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/this-iranian-airline-is-one-of-the-assad-regimes-lifelines-2015-10?IR=T

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  13. if you understand german: a good explanation

    https://correctiv.org/recherchen/flucht/artikel/2018/01/30/einmal-munchen-damaskus-und-zuruck/

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  14. Reading these dreadful comments, I don't know if many people realize that once upon a time there were several hundred thousand refugees from the former Yugoslavia. The way some of you talk here is as if you were born at Windsor palace. Just disgusting.

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    1. huh?

      95% of the comments here are related to the rather bizzare idea of launching this route

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    2. Bravo for that!

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  15. Why do we attract airlines from troubled countries?

    I tip Air Koryovis the next. 2pw FNJ via OVB on T20

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    1. Because we are already connected to most 'untroubled' countries?

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    2. What other troubled country are you referring to? If you refer to Iran, you should probably search up how many European airlines fly there. So I have to ask which troubled countries you refer to?

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    3. if this is not pushed by Russia then i dont know

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    4. Yes, I'm sure Russia decides which routes Cham Wings should open.

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    5. I'm still waiting to hear about these "troubled countries" Belgrade is attracting traffic from. And just a note that Aegean, Austrian, Alitalia, KLM, Lufthansa and Joon all fly to Tehran.

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    6. +1 THIS WOULD BE AWESOME :).

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    7. Tehran - one more missed opportunity for JU. Hope they open Damascus as soon the war is over or at least they try code share with this company.

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  16. You know it could simply be that they want to start flying to Europe. Obviously they can't fly with their own equipment into the EU so they decided on a destination that is close, where there are Syrians, that isn't hostile towards them and that is a market where others from Europe could easily reach them.

    There is a huge immigrant community (not just the latest wave) from Syria living in Europe who want to visit their friends and family. The war in Syria is pretty much at an end.

    JAT did exactly the same in the 90s.

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    1. This reminds me of JAT's service to Maastricht when Germany banned them from landing at their airports.

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    2. Exactly. During the 90s JAT found many creative ways to get Serbian diaspora to visit family back in Serbia. Since they could not fly to the EU they also had flights to Timisoaora and then bussed people to Belgrade.

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    3. JAT used to fly to Maastricht?! WOW! Did not know about that. Which year was it? So they were bared by Germans but allowed to land by Dutch?

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    4. Yes, that's correct. From what I remember it didn't take long before the Dutch banned them as well.

      There are even pictures of it online.

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    5. Tnx. Have to check. Very creative! Guys running the company in those years were amazing.

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  17. wondering how will this affect the loads of BEY-BEG-CDG connection of JU

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    1. BEY-BEG-CDG is the most annoying thing for us Serbian tax payers. They sell this transfer tickets cheap and then charge us 300+ to fly direct to Paris. Just insane!

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    2. Absolutely and utter nonsense. JU no longer sells loss making tickets for transfer passengers. Stop writing the same thing over and over again.

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    3. Nemjee I have not seen you defending JU before like this. Just checked random dates 13/20 June. BEY-BEG-CDG is 290 EUR (with luggage included). On the other hand, BEG-CDG is 342 EUR. Again, it is a public company of Serbia receiving lots of public funds so it is really shameful they charge us so much.

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    4. Yes, a company, not a charity. They are charging 342 EUR because they can. I fly to Paris twice a month and all planes are constantly full. Of Serbs.

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    5. Anybody mentioned charity? I think anon @8:36 pointed to the fact that they are charging more to O&D passengers than those in transfer. That is OK for LH or BA or any other company not receiving massive subsidies but not for JU.

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    6. I am defending JU when they deserve it which isn't that often.
      Charging €290 for BEY-CDG is ok and like I already said, they are not losing money from those passengers so your taxes are not covering any losses. Beirut is relatively successful and if it was losing money it would have been operated seasonally as is the case with LCA.

      Don't forget that when a foreigner flies via BEG to a third destination, he is leaving his money in Serbia despite not entering the country. Unfortunately JU is failing at developing the hub system which I think is a shame.

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    7. Btw LH might not be receiving direct subsidies but they are getting preferential treatment from their government. Just look at what happened to Air Berlin.

      All countries take care of their national carriers. Serbia is no exception.

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    8. I agree, 290 is much better than 200 or less. It is really hard to judge on profitability on any particular route as most of us do not have that kind of data. However, you can judge the business model on the whole and it is wrong - still making substantial losses with ticket prices for direct JU flights on many routes higher than they used to be 10 years ago. Beirut is good example, BEG - BEY goes up to 700 eur in summer while JU is flying Lebanese citizens/taxpayers/diaspora to Western Europe for 300-400 eur. Just wrong!

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    9. Well, you can always fly at the expense of Turkish taxpayers via IST if flying directly from BEG is too pricey.

      Also, JU has cut its destinations with little to no O&D. BEY is the last one left which can only mean it's not losing money. If it did then it would have gone the same way as KBP, VAR, WAW, BUD ...

      Also, if there was so much demand for BEY, don't you think MEA would have considered Belgrade? Look at Israel, we have three airlines flying between the two countries simply because there is demand. Turkey is another great example.

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    10. There is little to no O&D demand between Belgrade and Beirut at this moment, that is why MEA is not operating the route. My friend was invited for an event in Beirut last summer and having info only 3 weeks in advance he had to travel through Dubai. JU was 700+, Turkish around 500, FlyDubai around 350.
      Completely insane rerouting and totally environmentally unfriendly.
      It is good JU has ditched some unprofitable routes and lowered frequencies but still does not seem enough.

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    11. Beirut is packed, flights are full which is why fares from Belgrade are high.
      All airlines do this, regardless if they are owned by the government or not. However, the main difference between JU and them is that others have realized they need critical mass in order to survive. Air Serbia has not realized this yet which is why they are struggling.

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    12. I am completely aware that companies like LH do that. But that is not the point. Those are private companies, they have little to no responsibility to serve public interest. AirSerbia on the other hand does as it is publicly funded.
      Full planes do not mean profit, especially given the fact that JU passengers are almost all economy. MEA has 44 business seats in A330 flying BEY-CDG plus their prices for direct flights start at 312 eur in economy.
      I suppose we can agree to disagree on this one.

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  18. It seems to me that it will be an interesting summer at BEG.
    They are planning on landing at 13.00. I wonder if they might be taking one of the last available gates at the airport at that time.

    Departure at 15.00 is quite good as the airport is quite empty at that time.

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    1. +1

      I hope we see more flights in the evening around 20.00-21.00 and between 08.00 and 10.00.

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    2. True, is there an available gate at 13h?

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    3. beg.aero has the flight's arrival as 14.00. That's right after the busy noon rushhour. Should be ok.

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  19. Mahan Air is being targeted by US sanctions against Iran so I’m not so sure that the CAD will refuse landing rights for this reason. I wish them the best of luck and for there to be peace in Syria.

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    1. Mahan already got the permit to land in BEG.

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    2. That’s what I mean - American foreign policy plays no role in Serbian CAD decisions. Since Mahan got rights, Cham Wings probably will too.

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    3. Exactly at the end of the day, the more the merrier. :)

      Belgrade is becoming really well connected to the world. I hope Cairo is next ... hope we get Egyptair soon.

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    4. I saw an Egypt Air plane parked near Jat Tehnika at Belgrade Airport the other day. I think it was a freighter. It was a wide body but can't exactly say which type since it was too far. Their livery looks stunning.

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    5. Egyptair Cargo has been a regular at Belgrade. It's mostly transporting agricultural produce that's exported to Egypt.

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    6. Interesting. Thanks.

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  20. The amount of flights BEG will have to the Middle East is quite interesting. Seems to be a lot of demand, considering Beirut runs daily, two airlines from Israel fly to BEG, there are double daily flights to the UAE (soon 18 weekly).

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    1. Well I guess it’s helped that the current Serbian Government has cultivated closer ties with MENA nations.

      We’re also likely to see RAM flights. Emirates may be unlikely to arrive anytime soon given existing capacity to the UAE but I could be mistaken.

      Hopefully once the situation stabilizes in Libya, we’ll be seeing flights to Tripoli again.

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    2. There are also year-round flights to Egypt and Tunis as well.

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  21. Exotic to say the least.

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  22. They got their fourth A320 just this January.

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  23. Can we expect a lot of business activity to take place now between Syria and Serbia?

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    1. I would expect a lot of trade between these countries

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  24. Five new airlines in just the first 6 months of the year for Belgrade.

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    1. 3 from Iran, one from Syria, 1 from Russia.... what a group.

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    2. Yeah can people cut the self righteousness when it comes to where an airline comes from? Comes across as arrogant and racist.

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    3. Yeah and at the same time you had easyJet which increased its presence from 3 weekly flights to ten.
      Transavia went from 3 to 7. LO added more flights and so on.

      There is a balance. You are just choosing not to see it.

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  25. The flights are actually already listed in the timetable on Belgrade Airport's website.

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  26. This is really very good news. Belgrade positioned itself as a true gate to Middle East.
    The only missing point at this moment is flight to AMM - hope it will happen soon.
    Well done BEG!

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  27. I wish my home airport was this proactive. Congratulations to BEG.

    Greetings from Zagreb.

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    1. Impossible ZAG is in EU and therefore cannot receive such "exotic" flights

      Cham - airline forbidden in EU (not cerified)

      Iran and China flights - HR must not introduce visa free travel

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  28. Seems like extra demand for Egypt has gone unnoticed. This summer there are going to be five additional weekly flights on Egyptian carriers operating between Belgrade and Hurgada.

    From 18.05 Al Masria 2x
    From 28.05 Air Cairo goes to 5x
    From 19.06 Fly Egypt 2x

    I am sure Air Serbia will also operate flights to Egypt.

    Nice to see that Egypt is popular once again.

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    1. Egypt is still very cheap and situation has stabilised somewhat so tourists from poorer markets are returning. Expected really.

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    2. Tourists from poorer markets? Yeah...
      Someone who paid +450 euros hotel+airticket is not poor. For family is ~1800 euros.

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    3. That is middle class East European. The same quality of service in Italy or France would be more than 4000 which is quite lot of money in our region.
      That does not mean there are no 3000 pounds a week Nile cruises offered.

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    4. Hm. I guess all those people from poor markets like the UK are heading to Egypt.

      'UK tour-operating giant Thomas Cook expected a strong return of British tourists to Egypt in 2018, as it unveiled its data on British bookings to Egypt, which has leaped 89 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, according to the company’s holiday report.'

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    5. With rising inequality many people from UK can now only afford places like Hurgada. (note: I have nothing against Hurgada it is OK) 30 years ago parents of these same travelers could afford to go to Spain.

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    6. Most parts of Spain are no different from Hurgada. That's the case with all countries that rely on mass tourism.

      As with any country, there are fancy places and then there are the not so fancy ones. However, labeling countries like Anon 23.17 did is wrong in my opinion.

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    7. I just pointed to the fact that Egypt in general is still very economical and it is quite expected for us travelers from East to go there. Most of their tourists have been from Eastern Europe and Russia last couple of years. True about parts of Spain, but still that costs 2x Egypt/Tunisia.

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    8. Of course but that's always the case with very big countries. Same with Turkey, there are holidays for €250 but then there are those for €2.500.

      I think Egypt is not just about prices. The sea and the beaches are really nice too.

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    9. Nemjee, it is quite obvious you are either deliberately missing the point or you simply really don't see it. Now that Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia are somewhat stable again with no big attacks or internationally noticed protests recently, travellers are first to return to those countries as they are the cheapest compared to European summer holiday destinations such as Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal etc.

      You can get 1 week 5* hotel incl. flights for 299 Eur to the aforementioned countries, but you uaually cannot get that under 500 eur in Europe. There is quite a difference in price. You can also see by the number of charters from many CEE airports that demand is highest from CEE to those places whereas from many central or Northern European markets most charters go to the wealthier and more developed European sun & beach destinations.

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    10. Do you have a link to back your theory?

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  29. Doesn't seem likely to happen. But were it to happen, it could be good for Belgrade in the future. I believe safety shouldn't really be an issue, and I'm so tired of the anti-immigrant sentiments across Europe.
    So kudos to Serbia if this in fact does take place!

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  30. Anyone know how come TK is operating A332 tonight?

    Lufthansa from MUC on A321, SU from SVO and morning flight from IST. Lots of extra seats today.

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