Belgrade - Havana?

Havana, Cuba
Serbian tour operators have joined forces in order for direct charter flights to begin between the Serbian and Cuban capitals. The flights could begin as early as May this year and would be operated on a seasonal summer basis. The entire project is being headed by the Cuban Embassy in Belgrade and Kontiki Travel, Serbia‘s largest tour operator.

Gilfredo Milanes Molina, the First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy in Belgrade, said that Serbia and Cuba are at the onset of a new era of economic cooperation. He noted that some 500 Serbian tourists spent New Year’s Eve on the island.

In 2008 there were plans for seasonal charter flights to begin between the two cities. The project was then headed by tour operator Putnik which later fell in financial difficulties and the flights were never carried out. Currently, it is proposed that the flights between Belgrade and Havana operate once every 15 days (twice per month). Cuba has become increasingly popular with tourists from Serbia that can afford to spend a little extra for their holidays. The flights could be carried out by Cuba’s national carrier Cubana de Aviación.


  1. frequentflyer09:03

    Crack open the cigars? Perhaps not until these flights actually start...

    It would be interesting to see the IL-96 in regular operations though!

  2. Anonymous10:15

    What's the appeal here when you can do BEG-CDG-HAV on AF more regularly? Low yield, long haul... What if the IL96 goes tech in Belgrade? Why can't they just focus on building BEG as a better hub with better frequencies and shorter connection time instead of wasting efforts for the sake of pride and politics? Granted, it's not JAT's idea, alas.

  3. ah crap, more soviet planes

  4. just as long as theyre not JAT flights, would love to see it materialise. having the CU IL963's here in BEG will be a fantastic sight. Considering Serbian passport holders dont need Cuban visas and exotic destions are more and more popular in Serbia, im sure it would attract tourists. Im hoping that the flights could attract cargo which would make the flights more profitable.

    @ nikola

    IL96's are Russian...and whats wrong with them? Is it just because their Russian built? and what do you mean by more soviet planes?

  5. I guess that the rumours about Spanair flight are true :D
    I just read in "24casa" newspaper that they are in procedure of getting the green light on routes MAD-BEG and BCN-BEG :)))))))
    I can't wait! :)

    BTW-Today Nikis' flight HG8028 landed for the first time at 11.55 in BEG, on his regular route from VIE :D

    BTW2-I would like to see some foreign airline on Havana routes! ;) Welcome!

    BTW3-OA flights ATH-BEG are definitely terminated... it's a shame :(

  6. JU520 BEGLAX13:46

    Don t see any intercontinental flights in Belgrade anymore, excpet for maybe EK to DXB and in a couple years, maybe a US carrier linking BEG with a US Hub. As long the economical situation is like today, long haul flights ex BEG make no real good profits. Long haul flights are living from C and F Class passengers and I do not see full C and F cabins with todays situation. On the other hand, times have developed and in the past 20 years the situation has changed. DXB,AUH,IST are getting stronger and stronger and people can travel in direction of Asia and Australia thru these hubs and for the rest, there is enough connections in FRA,MUC,ZRH,CDG and LHR.

    JU500: Congratulation to your new carrier, will see who will have the long-run breath: OS,JU and HG?

  7. @ JU520 BEGLAX

    why would EK come to BEG while JAT is flying the BEGDXB route? besides, the smallest EK aircraft is an A330 - JAT cannot keep a 5 p/w B733 running to DXB let alone EK coming in with A330's. having 100 asses parked in economy seats in an A330 to me buddy isnt profitable. On top of that, quite a number of passengers on JAT's DXB flights go onwards to SKP and SJJ, something EK couldnt offer. As for the US, why should JAT cooperate with US carriers when they could launch the routes NA routes themselves? Maybe not to alot, but certainly JFK, YYZ and ORD, from where they could connect to other cities like LAX, CLE, DTW, YUL. Flights to Tehran were once a profitable route and there is no reason why they couldnt be more profitable having in mind good connections onto western euro flights via BEG, maybe an early morning arrival into BEG?

  8. JU520 BEGLAX16:13

    @JATBEGMEL: PRG has only DL to JFK, BUD 3 DL flights per week to JFK, WAW has 6 weekly LO flights to New York, ATH one DL flight per week: BUH and SOF no flights (think BUH has DL in Summer). I do not see with the economical situation in Serbia, that flights to the US would make sense. And if one day, they will become, then only the carrier who is with JU in the same alliance. Living only from serbian ethnic traffic from the US, will not yield out to profitability. There is several factors to make direct flights reasonable; main factor: economy between two countries or two cities, tourism on both side (Belgrade is far away from being attractive for tourism out of the US), ethnic traffic, transit. Transit is long time gone in Belgrade and will not come back before JU will not improve as a carrier and BEG has a really attractive airport. Ex YU airports are way off being attractive, they are decades back. Look at the shopping malls you have today, look at Helsinki airport who just opened a SPA. To attract passengers today, you need much more than just a terminal and a couple airbridges.
    My heard bleeds too, but I need to see it realistic.

  9. Anonymous16:34

    It would be nice to see AEROFLOT with Russian aircraft....not A320...

  10. BEG Long Haul16:38

    Emirates have actually confirmed themselves that Belgrade is on their short list of new destinations. Not sure if it will happen in 2010, but most definitely in 2011.

    Qatar Airways is rumored to start Doha - Belgrade flights, but only once they establish themselves on the Australian market.

    As for Cubana's IL96... what's wrong about them? If they are good enough for London, Paris and Madrid (Cubana uses them on those routes), why should they be a problem for Belgrade. It's not like the Balkans countries can get picky about carriers... if nothing, Cubana fleet is much younger than Serbia's Jat.


    Besides Emirates already (unofficially) confirming their intent to start Belgrade flights, the majority of pax flying further away (Asia, Australia) would prefer a non-stop flight between Dubai and Belgrade.

    When I fly to Dubai, I connect in Vienna, it takes the SAME time as Jat's direct flight, with a better on board product.

  12. ANONYMOUS00:50

    Well, if Cubana are going to operate this with their Ilyushin 96's, it's going to be highly weight restricted.

    The IL-96-300 has a range of 5,900 nautical miles and Belgrade-Havana is 5,700nm, so any sort of adverse headwinds especially on a westbound flight would mean diversions for re-fueling...

    There have been better ideas than this..Cuba isn't worth such a long flight. However, whoever made the ridiculous comment about Russian planes clearly knows nothing about the aerospace sector. Cubana's IL 96's (or Aeroflots, or anyone elses) are as good as anything else - ok, about 20% more fuel inefficient, but very reliable frames in their own right.

  13. @ BEG long haul

    Lets see EK open an office in BEG first than we'll talk about flights. It seems EK and JAT have made a new agreement with JAT returning to DXB next week so from that i dont see EK coming to BEG. during some months, for example november (from personal experience), the flights have around 70, 80 passengers (i can see the profitablity there on EK A330's - note the sarcasm). I see EK coming here either A using BEG as a stopover to some N. American destinations or B codesharing on JAT DXB flights. Ive flown a few times with JAT and EK going to Australia, very happy with the flights. JATs product is far from perfect but JAT FA's offer more drinks on the 7 hour flight to BEG than the 14 hour fright from MEL to DXB for example. Food with JAT is good, the inflight entertainment drastically needs to improve along with the seats and toilet facilities, but hey, had an intresting conversation with 3 serbs and a macedonian woman on my last flight :p lol I cant wait this summer to try fly on the B737 direct to DXB. And Blic writing articles on EK flights to BEG isnt unofficial confirmation.

    As for QR, maybe in a couple of years time :)

    @ JU520 BEGLAX

    PRG btw has TAS from OK, ATL and JFK from DL, ICN from KO, soon will have EK to DXB and has numerous long haul charters. OK's A310 on the N. American route was pathetic for an airline like OK and doesnt surprise me that they lost out. OTP and SOF never had what BEG had and BEG was always better until the sanctions and today dont expect more.


    No, it's actual Emirates insiders who have confirmed that Belgrade is on their short-list of new destinations. Interesting to note at the same time that they do not any plans to introduce Budapest, but do plan to introduce flights at some point to Warsaw and Kiev.

  15. @ BEG long haul

    WAW and KBP i can kinda understand, but BEG...i dont know, its too early to say. i would think the first step would be to open an office in Belgrade then commence flights. If EK had smaller aircarft I could see it happen...maybe it is flyDubai who will come instead of EK. The problem i see with EK's success in BEG is the direct JAT flights to DXB and TK flights via IST to DXB which also coincide with connecting flights to SE Asia and Oceania.

  16. ANONYMOUS13:01


    Why on earth would EK open an office first, then start flights? Offices are expensive (lease rental, employee costs) for what purpose? They're a modern airline with a focus on costs so an office apart from perhaps one in the airport is completely unnecessary.

    As for your direct flights on Jat to DXB this summer - IT AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN!

    However, I do agree with you on one point - FlyDubai are a likely candidate, but they only have around 6 aircraft now and there's a lot of routes in the Asia/Middle East/Africa region they intend on serving first ahead of markets in Europe.

  17. @ anonymous

    Not neccessarily. JAT's Sydney office is JAT's most profitable office. JAT was forced to stop flights to Australia back almost 20 years ago and hasnt reopened the line since.

    Im 50/50 about the direct DXB flights. theyve done 1 or 2 direct flights on the B733 when war broke out in Lebanon back in 2006 when they were unable to use an alternate airport before going via LCA like today, i think it was luggage left behind in BEG or cargo, cant remember what i read, which enabled such a flight if im not mistaken. My issue is whether a B737 will arrive in march or april, and if it does than thatll be the confirmation that the DXB flights will go direct. Another 2 months to wait i guess.

    about flydubai, true. i just cant picture EK metal in BEG at the moment. who knows whatll happen.

  18. ANONYMOUS19:15

    This is not opinion, this is fact:

    B737-700s will NOT be arriving in 2 months. This is not for discussion or debate - this is FACT.

    737-300s can fly direct BEG-DXB, but hugely payload restricted.

    Jat has an office in Sydney because it was incapable of closing it, it's not 'profitable', it's the 'least loss making'. If only you had any understanding of the economics behind it...

    Why do you love to comment so often on an industry you know so little about?

  19. Anonymous23:04

    i would think the first step would be to open an office in Belgrade then commence flights.

    @ anonymous
    Why on earth would EK open an office first, then start flights?

    FYI, EK has the office in Belgrade for years...

  20. Anonymous23:49

    Actually, before flights started going via Abu Dhabi, Sydney WAS the most profitable office. The closure of various offices across the world was one of the dumbest things JU management could have done. Opening offices at airports (in some cases across passport control so you can only purchase a ticket via the internet) was another glorious invention of the past Starcevic-Vlaisavljevic management teams. Anonymous, if you actually work at Jat it would be quite distressing since you openly hope, in every comment, that the airline goes bust.

    FYI: The EK office you are referring to in Belgrade is not an actual office, its just a representative agent selling EK tickets for Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Last year they sold more tickets from Slovenia then Serbia.

  21. @Anonymous

    Does anyone really think that Jat is able to calculate the profitability of each individual office?!?!?! There are some world class banks that are not able to do this, yet we are talking about the ability of a low profile carrier to do it???

    One should have in mind that turnover (ie. number of tickets sold, revenues) do NOT equate to the profitability of an airline...

    What airports are you talking about that have a ticket office beyond passport control? I travel a lot, been most everywhere, and have never seen such a thing...

  22. Anonymous11:35

    ^^ A prime example would be Athens where the Jat office is behind passport control. Only an idiot could order the closure of offices, especially if he doesn’t know the make up of the Serbian diaspora which often wants to buy tickets physically rather then over the internet, and this is particularly true for North America, Canada and Australia where you need to animate the local diaspora through sponsorships, events and being heard in the community for them to trust you and travel with your combination. But you can’t expect anything more from a CEO (Vlaisavljevic) who told a newspaper that he never travels on board Jat so as to leave more spare tickets for passengers!

    As for office profitability you don’t need a financial group to tell you your expenditure for each office and person you have sent there. You also don’t need a financial group to tell you your revenue from ticket sales. Put the 2 together and you can see where you make a profit or loss. Each representative has to send his expenditure and revenue report at the end of the month.

  23. VFR traffic is one with lowest yields... wanting to run an office for that kind of pax is just ludicrous. Never flown with Jat to Athens, nor needed an office for that matter (all tickets booked thru TA or Internet), so can't comment on that.

    As for North America and Australia, can't really tell... don't know the business model, but basically seems that they are selling tickets for the majors, and only providing the feeder flights. It's not even code/revenue sharing... and you expect them to be able to calculate the profits?! The costs are not just those of running the office, and the revenues are not those of tickets sold, but only of the part that goes to Jat for the feeder flight...


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