The transatlantic race

Skopje, Belgrade and Zagreb anticipating transatlantic flights

The airports in Skopje, Belgrade and Zagreb are all hoping to see transatlantic flights in the near future. The Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency says flights from the United States and Canada are likely to be launched in the summer of 2014. “The Macedonian diaspora will soon have the possibility to fly to their homeland with the launch of transatlantic flights from Canada via the United States to Macedonia”, the agency said in a statement, adding it has been working on these long haul flights since early this year. According to Dejan Mojsoski, the head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, flights will operate on a seasonal basis, during peak summer and winter months. “The response from airlines in Canada has been favourable, but I won’t mention their names at the moment, until the process is finalised”, Mr. Mojskoski says.

Air Serbia plans to launch long haul flights to the United States and Canada by 2016 at the latest. Speaking on national television recently, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan has confirmed plans for the Serbian carrier to operate flights to Chicago and Toronto in 2016 with an Airbus A330 aircraft. However, Mr. Vučić added he is pushing for transatlantic flights to be launched late next year, in particular to New York. Belgrade was last connected to the Big Apple in 2004 when the route was operated by Uzbekistan Airways while flights to Toronto were operated on a seasonal summer basis until 2007 by the now defunct Skyservice Airlines.

Zagreb Airport’s new operator has announced that one of its main aims will be connecting the Croatian capital to the United States. Airlines from the United States have not operated flights to Croatia since its independence, however, the airport sees more long haul action than others in the region. Korean Air and Japan’s JAL have been operating summer charters to Zagreb for years. In addition, until 2001, Malaysia Airlines operated scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur to Zagreb via Vienna. The last time the Croatian capital and Canada were connected was back in 2008 when Skyservice Airlines operated flights between the two cities.


  1. Anonymous09:12

    lets hope: this is how i see flights from belgrade to: new york, cleveland, chicago, los angeles, toronto. south a: rio de janeiro. asia: new delhi, bangkok, beijing, shangai, tokyo. africa: johanesburg. these routes should start for the beggining, later australia and a bit more to american continet.

    1. Anonymous09:15

      why not the moon?

    2. Anonymous09:35

      Sure, BEG will have routes like VIE, ZRH, PRG, BUD and WAW all together. And it will be only airport in Europe with LHR to have flights to Australia!.

    3. Anonymous10:11

      LHR is not the only airport in Europe with flights to Australia...

    4. Anonymous10:14

      London Heathrow technically doesn't have direct flights to Australia, they stop on their way there.

      Also, I think the first guy wasn't serious when he wrote all that.

    5. Anonymous11:09

      Dear Sir/Madam,
      flight to Australia on this days all so possible thru Abu Dhabi and Dubai. London is great as well as Qantas, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
      But at LHR have a big disadvantage.
      Among highest airport taxes. With 67th
      flight to Belgrade I made three week ago
      in last 44 years, from Australia. London is cool, but too expensive. Aviation and people in Serbia, hope in outer state in south east Europe is in transformation. Those people striving to achiving place
      under sun. AIR SERBIA is prime example to proofing. Moving to highest
      standard is possible and only way for future. Decision makers are conches about future development and problems
      heads. Let time tell.
      Rodney Marinkovic, AME(ret) Kraljevo /Griffith

    6. Purger11:09

      LHR is the only airport in Europe to have flights to Australia. Even FRA, CDG, ZRH, VIE, FCO, AMS, CPH... does not have flights to Australia. So it is not real that BEG will have those flights in near future.

      Al flights to Australia have 1stop but they are direct flights (without changing planes).

    7. Anonymous11:20

      I can't believe people are still taking his comment seriously.

      'Шта се палиш ко сељак на политику?' што би рекла Милица из Отворених врата.

    8. Anonymous00:09

      Pa kad su nam seljaci u politici!

    9. As of 2014, Turkish is starting a direct service to Australia, initially with one stopover in Asia and later non-stop to Sydney. This will be the world's longest air route, after Singapore-Newark is scrapped.
      Turkish has over 50 destinations in Europe, so i doubt that BEG will get any flights to OZ, with or without Etihad.

    10. Anonymous11:03

      А где нису као сељаци!

  2. Anonymous09:14

    The question that has to be asked, is do Serbia & Macedonia have a category one rating with the FAA? Croatia does, so there is no problem for them.

    1. Anonymous09:45

      Serbia does too since last year if I recall correctly.

    2. Anonymous10:08

      There was a story run by this page on February 12 this year "Serbia awaits FAA decision", but there was no follow up story, I am sure that if serbia did get category one rating, this site would have reported it.

      So the question remains, does serbia have a category one rating with the FAA?

    3. Anonymous13:31

      Serbia is still listed with a category 2 rating on the FAA website.

  3. Anonymous09:31

    I don't think any of these cities are getting a year round transatlantic flight any time soon. There is simply not enough demand, this is MOSTLY a vfr market and when it comes to long haul flights, business class is where airlines make their profit.

    We might see a few charters during peak times but that's about it. Now if etihad wants to burn money to keep some backroom promises or the Macedonian government decides to give subsidies for "prestige" that's another mater . . . .

  4. Anonymous09:33

    Delusional nationalism is the greatest assets of Balkan wannabe countries. The first comment on today's update illustrates it perfectly. One guy thinks he will become transatlantic hub of the region because Wizz decided to base their second aircraft over there. Another guy thinks he will become transatlantic hub because he is EU member and has agreed for the new terminal. Third guy thinks he will become a regional hub because he was lucky to find a wealthy investor for his already dead airline.

    And when they wake up, they find themselves with one and a half airport that stands chance to earn some decent money, and a bunch of 'first in my village' airlines that keep accumulating losses in dozens of millions.


    1. Anonymous09:42

      You gotta invest to keep the '1st in village' badge!

    2. Anonymous09:43

      HAHAHA, well put. Sums up the region nicely!!!

    3. Anonymous09:57

      Thank God we have people like you to take us out of the dark ages into enlightenment. Your kind is no better- the know it all yet do nothing about it besides bitch.

    4. Anonymous10:18

      9:33 AM Anonymus : you are soooo right!!!

    5. BA88814:24

      Well said!

      @ Anonymous December 13, 2013 at 9:33 AM!

    6. Anonymous16:40

      All three cities combined don't have enough traffic for year round sustainable transatlantic routes. Seasonal transatlantic charters were tried at ZAG, BEG, PRN and all partially failed for various reasons. There might be some opportunity for seasonal charters again, but that should not be priority for those airports (including SKP) - they all have more important goals to take care of first. Regular year round service should not be even mentioned at this point. Just look at Malev and CSA transatlantic past failures.

  5. B777BA09:42

    I often fly to Europe from North America. Whenever I wanted to fly direct to that destination, the Germans and Austrians offered much cheaper alternatives. Get ready to pay an extra $200-$400 on top of that $1500.

    Now how many of you have the families that you send your cash on monthly basis?

  6. Anonymous09:59

    So Vucic has requested a direct line from Belgrade to New York? it seems to me he is turning into yet another Boris Tadic- an expert for everything.

  7. Anonymous10:25

    Such a nice topic to start fighting about... Who has a longer one :D ? (flight)

    Neither will get long haul any time soon :). Relax.

  8. Anonymous10:29

    B&H Airlines is giving out 10 return tickets free of charge between Sarajevo and Belgrade. All people had to do is to share their Facebook picture and to send their information in their inbox.
    They seem to be using their social media really well. :D

  9. Anonymous10:31

    So does that mean that OU has one A320 in its fleet now? Will they scrap that one too? Makes me wonder if they will introduce some changes in the fleet before the winter season.

  10. Anonymous12:08

    Air Serbia's inaugural from Belgrade to Bucharest was almost fully booked.

  11. Anonymous12:26

    Makedonija je najpametnija-wizz air je njihova nacionalna kompanija-nema glavobolje......

  12. Purger14:24

    Etihad experts are in Alitalia for 10 days now, and study financial books. They will make decision if they will invest in Alitalia or not till Christmas. Deal is about 25% of Alitalia shares.

    In one way it can be good option for Air Serbia because of possible collaboration. Etihad really looks like they make 4th alliance, now with 7 members: Air Berlin, Darwin, Air Serbia, Etihad, Jet, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles, and that is not end, for sure, as they negotiate with Alitalia and LOT, and already have 2,4% in Aer Lingus which will sell shares next year. But in same time there are too many companies in this little region of some 1.000 km (Air Berlin DUS, TXL, VIE; Darwin ZRH, GVA, FCO, Alitalia FCO, MXP, VCE, Air Serbia BEG). If they will buy Alitalia shares it will be less potential feeding passengers for BEG hub, and for sure only options are flights to near East (Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Southeast part of exYU) because more to East is reserved for Etihad, North, Northeast and West Europe for Air Berlin, Central Europe for Darwin, Air Berlin and Alitalia, South and Southwest Europe for Alitalia. For example if they will enter Alitalia for sure we will see flights from Adriatic cost to FCO; ZAG and LJU to FCO, MXP, ZRH, GVA; SJJ to ZRH, FCO; TGD and TIV to FCO. That is less potential passengers for Air Serbia.

    In same time we can see that it was not Etihad plan to make BEG their transfer hub:
    - Darwin flights does not connect to almost nothing in BEG (I thing just to SVO),
    - Etihad does not present BEG as their “European hub”, but Air Serbia as Etihad feeder,
    - priority for connection from region via BEG is flights to Abu Dhabi, not to rest of destinations. Of course passengers are welcome to do that, but that is not priority in time-table.

    For sure Etihad invest to feed Abu Dhabi (like all others), but in same time their system is to allow local companies to have local traffic and connections (unlike Lufthansa, Air France, British...). That was really very good for Air Serbia, but with investment in Darwin and possible investment in Alitalia it is not even near as good as situation 6 months ago.

    1. Anonymous15:01

      I would be very curious to see where you base your argument that the priority is for flights to Abu Dhabi. For me it seems like total nonsense and you can see that from the upcoming timetable that will be rolled out from January 2014. Abu Dhabi is served two times per day so obviously it will allow for connections from any flight. At the same time, we can see ALL flights launched by Air Serbia being done so as to allow connections in Belgrade. The following destinations will have double daily flights soon: Sarajevo, Skopje, Montenegro, Thessaloniki, Athens, Paris, Moscow... if their intention was to solely build connections for Abu Dhabi then they did not need two flights per day but one. Nor would they need 10 A320 NEO for that.

      You are forgetting one major thing here. They are getting 25% of Alitalia and with it they can't do much. On top of everything, Alitalia's unions are no joke and they can't be silenced by the government like the Serbian ones. In addition to all this, Ryanair and Vueling will be opening their bases in Rome creating so much fierce competition to an almost dead carrier. In order to succeed they will not only need 51% of the shares, billions of Euros to waste but they will also need a miracle- to say the least.
      No matter what you believe Alitalia is no threat to Air Serbia, Darwin or Air Berlin because of the mess it is in and because of the circumstances that surround them.

      Furthermore, the takeover of Darwin was a dangerous move and it will most likely be followed by Lufthansa's retaliation. I fear Etihad is moving way too fast now and they will force larger European airlines to seek political protection from this growing threat.
      Look at how much time they need before fixing Air Serbia. Imagine the time they will need if they entered a first class mess such as Alitalia. They will need at least 1.5 years before fixing it, then another two years before cementing their position in Rome and only then could they start to pursue a more aggressive strategy when it comes to expansion.

    2. Anonymous15:02

      I would also like to point out that Air Berlin is still a mess despite Etihad being there for quite some time now. Alitalia is years and years away from being a threat to anyone.

    3. Anonymous18:14

      Alitalia is a threat for anyone that buys them.
      They are moneyburners.

    4. Purger18:20

      Of course it is risky to invest in companies which are in bottom like Air Berlin, Darwin, Jat, Alitalia, Air Seychelles, Jet... Etihad did not invest in good companies but in those which are in very bad situation. The same strategy kills Swissair and Qualiflyer Group. You are absolutely right that they will need some 2-3 years to do something. The same thing is with Air Serbia. Or you want to tell me that this company is perfect now with all those delays, administration problems, pilot shortage for A319 etc.

      To see that Air Serbia is primarily Etihad feeder on example of time-table here are some facts. For sure CDG, AMS, FRA etc. are not feeding routes to Abu Dhabi. So, feeding routes are those in 2nd wave: Athens, Banja Luka, Bucharest, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, Thessalonica, Tivat (in near future Sofia, Varna and Budapest). All those have ideal connections from Abu Dhabi (11:25 / 12:50-14:00) and not so good to Abu Dhabi (16.35-17.25 / 23.10). But 2nd frequencies to those feeding routes (OTP, TGD, SJJ, TIV) are in morning, in 1st wave where it is in ideal position for Abu Dhabi route (05:55 / 07.20-08.00 / 11.00 / 12.20). In same time most of those routes miss some of basic connections to other European routes, especially ATH, OTP, SKG. But the best example is 2nd frequency (1st wave). As I mention it is ideally organized for 2nd daily connection to Abu Dhabi, but in same time it miss all logical connection to West Europe. If they put this 2nd frequency overnight (00.00 / 01.00 – 05.30 / 06.30) that will ideally connect to all European routes. So priority was Abu Dhabi.

      I don't want to say it is bad and that those feeding routes do not have connections to West Europe, but for sure priority is Abu Dhabi.

      But that is not a point, point is that if there would be flights from TIV, TGD, SJJ, ZAG, LJU, SJJ, DBV to FCO, better connections to Western Europe would be via FCO not via BEG, and that means less potential passengers via BEG.

      25% shares is not total control but it is enough to influence in strategy. In Air Berlin Etihad is the most important collaborator and there they have just 4% more shares than it was planed in Alitalia.

    5. Anonymous23:22

      If the rumours are true that Air Serbia will be getting more Atrs then I am sure they will be adding more frequencies to all regional destinations making all sorts of connections possible. Maybe Abu Dhabi was their priority, that's something we will never know, but at the same time we can see that their priority is to build a decent network out of Belgrade that will allow overall connections. The fact that they are expanding into markets such as Larnaca, Tel Aviv and offering connections shows that they have bigger plans than be a simple feeder airline for Etihad in Belgrade. Actually, i think it's safe to assume that we are beyond that argument.

      From January they are slowly starting to reinforce their network and the most important change, for me, is that addition of three night flights to Athens. This proves that they want to dominate and serve the Balkans from Belgrade.

      Also, even if they do take over Alitalia, I highly doubt that the low-yielding Balkan market will be a priority for them, especially not since they have invested a lot of money in Air Serbia.

      I can see them concentrating on offering connections from west and north Europe to Asia and Africa via Rome.
      Then, on the other hand we also have Milan. I think that when it comes to Italy they will first work on keeping the O&D passengers before dealing with connections.
      I actually believe that they will fail in Italy because of fierce competition and hostile unions.

    6. Anonymous23:25

      btw the delays are not that bad any more. At times a flight or two is delayed but that's normal.

    7. Anonymous01:31

      Really? Yesterday

      60 minutes and more
      DUS (1:20 hours)
      ATH (1:45 hours)

      45-60 minutes

      30-45 minutes

      15-30 minutes

      on time and up to 15 minutes

      Just 43% on time, 57% delay. 10% flights more than one hour delay. That is good result?

    8. Anonymous11:01

      You do realize that you do not count on's website the delays up to around 30 minutes because they do not post the time it leaves the gate but the time they actually take off. If a plane is parked at the gate A8 or A9 he surely needs 7 to 8 minutes to taxi to the runway. So on the website's delay you need to remove the taxi time.
      In other words, taking this into account, only their flights TXL, DUS, ATH and ZRH were really delayed.

      So no, not that bad if you ask me.

    9. Anonymous12:45

      No, those are arrivals, not departures. So, after lending planes needs around 5 more minutes taxi to gate.

  13. Anonymous15:19

    We've heard this stories about Alitalia and LOT before, nothing came out of them. Taking over Darwin in secrecy is one thing but getting into Alitalia (and, consequently, hitting at SkyTeam) is a big economic and political move. Such move would be discussed in public on a large scale. If EY is currently performing a due diligence of Alitalia, it by no means makes the deal done. Many due diligence studies never lead to actual investments, moreover, sometimes their only purpose is to send a message. Or a fake message.

  14. Anonymous16:42

    I don't get the hype about direct flights to the US. If this is profitable for a local airline, JU, OU, or anybody else, sure, do it.

    But, I fail to see advantages for local pax - price tag cannot go (a lot) below the competition. Perhaps the direct flight is convenient to some, but I do prefer to make a short stop somewhere in Europe to take a shower and do some shopping. I love airports :) But, regardless, this won't be a daily or double daily, so any kind of advantage you get from a direct flight, you lose schedule-wise, unless you are really flexible with your time. But then, make a 6-8 hour stopover in MUC or LHR, and have a coffee in the city center.

    This is significant for the airport itself as these flights are highly profitable in terms of handling, and the airline operating them, and perhaps the connecting pax from underserved destinations (e.g. Varna, Tivat) as they might benefit from a more competitive price, but for local BEG, ZAG, SKP or whichever pax this could only be a matter of "prestige". And I wouldn't really call a weekly flight to the US something to brag about, honestly.

    1. You are totally right, who cares for direct flights to stupid country like USA was and still is.I would rather like to have direct flights from BEG to Maldives or Thailand,better food, better people and clime than in States or cold Canada

    2. Anonymous17:36

      Are we to assume you are being sarcastic?

      -- Charlie

    3. It is the FACT Charlie boy, i really don't wish to see NYC or SF or LA, but i wish to enjoy in Puket

    4. USA is not interesting country for visiting it

    5. Anonymous23:49

      I didn't realize it was a FACT that USA is not interesting. Thanks for clearing that up for me Danny boy. ;-)

      -- Charlie

    6. Anonymous00:20

      Isnt Dushan in his sixties?!
      I think if he was younger he wouldnt have a problem with very busy urban life in NYC and so on.
      Thailand is warm all the year round with nice beaches.Thats more interesting for someone who wants to enjoy his pension.

    7. Anonymous00:24

      Good point

    8. 58, and you were not born when i flew my B707 to NYC .....:).....where to go there, Cony Island maybe??? LOL

    9. Yes i have 65 but prefer Puket more than Miami, full of old ladies with wrinkles

    10. Dule, cut the crap with this "stupid countries like USA"
      Thank God you are retired and hopefuly your reach doen't go further than blogs and internet news comments.

      If you want to fly direct to Puket, hire a jet. I am sure they would love to have you there.

    11. Anonymous06:04

      Dushan is only having his fun with us...
      He obviously doesnt take everything here too serious.
      Nothing wrong with that.
      In the end this is only an aviation blog.
      One that unfortunately too often evolves into a battle zone without any gain.
      By some other people who take everything way too serious.

    12. Anonymous10:58

      Spale, take a chill-pill dude.

  15. Anonymous17:34

    Why is the perception that direct scheduled flights to ZAG, BEG or SKP from ORD, or YYZ, would be more expensive than two flights from YYZ to SKP via FRA or VIE? Maybe someone can explain the price structure of this kind of travel.

    -- Charlie

    1. I don't think it's a perception. i can tell you that for me to fly to VIE for example from YYZ it is alway lot more expensive to fly with OS directly then with any combination of airlines with one stop. Even YYZ-SJJ via VIE is cheeper that YYZ-VIE alone (talking about OS).. They say it's supply and demand thing where people generally like to fly direct. higher demand, higher price.

    2. Anonymous23:53

      Thanks Sam.

      -- Charlie

  16. Anonymous18:12

    If EY buys a stake in Alitalia then they are really stupid.

    AZ needs every quarter o fthe year 100 millions only not to go bankrupt.
    Of course they will never pay back this...
    The same as Air Berlin,the parasite airline.
    Air Serbia at least is under control of EY.The others do what they want and get away with the money.
    EY is their feeder.Feeding with money.

    1. Purger18:27

      Precise number is 64 millions per quarter. But you are right. They really shod be crazy to go into that deal. And that is not just because of 64 millions per quarter, but because syndicate and non-workers which "works" in Alitalia.

    2. Purger18:29

      shod= should

    3. Anonymous18:58

      Imagine doing the same at Alitalia they did with JU: Announce a new management that takes orders from EY.
      Impossible in EU!!!
      The EU prohibits this.

      How difficult it was for EY to get rid of Air Berlin CEO Mehdorn who did nothing than sucking money.
      The deal with Air Serbia was a consequence of the bad experience EY had with Air Berlin.

      When i give you the money dont fuck around with me is the way to do it.

  17. Anonymous18:35

    In the summer of 2008, there was some 5 charters (29.06/ 06.07 /27.07 / 10.08 / 31.08) YYZ-OHD,apparently via SPU.It was Skyservice and as I recall the news back then - the LF was about 65% for the OHD part.
    Some unofficial talks were that it got canceled because the pressure of the Macedonian government for the flights to go in SKP because "it is the capital" and that way the company would've had certain privileges.
    The prices> 899 CAD OHD-YYZ and 1299 CAD in opposite direction.
    Can someone familiar with SPU confirm their side of the story?

  18. Anonymous19:21

    What?!? What you are writing is a total nonsense (there was never a single flight from US/Canada with or without stop to Macedonia).
    Who told you for God sake this story about OHD:-))
    On the top of the story - pressure to be routed to SKP and all that in the middle of the Great depression 2008, when half of European airports lost flights to Americas:-)))
    Btw. I'm Macedonia pls. without attacks:-)

    1. Anonymous20:06

      There was not charters YYZ-SPU!

    2. Anonymous21:37

      Not true! Before going banrupt, Skyservice had operated weekly summer charters YYZ-DUB-BEG and YYZ-DUB-ZAG on B757, and YYZ-SPU nonstop, on A330. Furthermore, A330 was in Split on Saturdays, the busiest day in Split, hardly having position to park.

    3. Anonymous21:18

      There were at first articles in Nova Makedonija (the newspaper) and Kapital magasine.It was also top news in the local media @OHD.I found this link too

  19. Anonymous03:01
    The CEO of TAP said they are starting BEG from next year. In addition to Belgrade they will add another 5 destinations in Europe. Good news i guess

  20. Anonymous08:35

    ZAG and BEG maybe with a big ?
    but Shkupi ... i do not know whether to say for SKP funny or sweet ahahaha


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