MENA airlines boost Belgrade operations


Carriers from the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) will significantly boost capacity or increase operations to the Serbian capital this summer. One of the biggest developments in the run up to the start of the new season at Belgrade Airport has been the strong demand for flights between Iran and Serbia, which has resulted in six weekly services between Tehran and Belgrade to be operated by three different carriers, one of which will utilise wide-body aircraft. Following Iran Air, which commenced operations to the Serbian capital ten days ago, Qeshm Air inaugurated services between the two cities this morning, which will be followed by Mahan Air tomorrow. Iran Air's Deputy Manager of Operations, Abbas Ahadian Moghdam, said last week, "We hope to expand this operation. We could introduce some additional flights from other Iranian cities and we hope to establish good relations and cooperate with Air Serbia".

Iran Air jet greeted by water cannon salute in Belgrade last week

Carriers from the Gulf will also continue to grow their operations to Belgrade this summer. Etihad Airways will increase frequencies on its flights from Abu Dhabi from daily to ten weekly between July and September. The Emirati carrier will add a second daily service between the two capitals each Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Starting May 1, Qatar Airways will introduce an additional 45 seats each way on its daily service from Doha to Belgrade by upgrading equipment from the Airbus A320 aircraft to the larger A321. On the other hand, as of last week, Flydubai has deployed its new 166-seat Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet on its Belgrade service. Commenting on the equipment upgrade, Jeyhun Efendi, the airline's ‎Senior Vice President for Commercial Operations, said, "We are the first airline in the Middle East to fly this aircraft to Belgrade. It is a very efficient machine. We have new seats in economy and business class. One of the biggest features on this aircraft are ten flat bed seats in business class. The aircraft also has 156 seats in economy, which have been upgraded and feature a new in-flight entertainment system. These seats are actually used on long haul aircraft by other airlines".


Egypt Air's subsidiary, Air Cairo, will increase its operations from Hurghada to Belgrade from four to five per week this summer, starting May 14. The airline, which maintains year-round operations to the Serbian capital, told EX-YU Aviation News, "The tourism market is returning and we saw a good summer in Belgrade last year, which will be exceeded this coming season. We have been operating to Serbia for several years and we have a good name with tour operators as a charter carrier". Air Cairo also has seats on sale for individual bookings on this route. Commenting on its future plans, the airline noted it would consider introducing flights from Sharm el Sheikh to Belgrade and would coordinate future operations on this route with Egypt Air Express, which itself will open a base in the holiday resort town with the arrival of its new Bombardier CS300 aircraft from November onwards.

Serbia and Morocco are still expected to establish flights after the Serbian Foreign Minister met with the Prime Minister of Morocco in Rabat last week, where the matter was discussed amongst other things. The Moroccan Prime Minister noted, "The recently signed bilateral air agreement and the discussions on visa exemption for ordinary passport holders will develop tourism ties between the two countries". Last year, the Moroccan Ambassador to Serbia said the kingdom's national carrier had expressed interest in introducing flights between Casablanca and Belgrade during the 2018 summer season. On the other hand, Tunis Air will maintain two weekly flights from Tunis, as well as charter services from Monastir, to the Serbian capital. The two countries signed a new Air Service Agreement last December in order to better regulate air traffic and boost bilateral cooperation. The deal allows for carriers from each state to codeshare on the others' services.

Comments

  1. Great. Next I suspect we might see Qatar Airways go 10 weekly to BEG.

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  2. Is there really a market between Morocco and the Serbia?

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    Replies
    1. Serbia announced it will abolish visas for Moroccan citizens. So after that happens I expect we will see flights, similar as with Iran and China.

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    2. Best way to get into the EU!

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    3. I guess this is Serbia's way to send a sign to EU, let us join or face immigrants coming from our borders. Of course, when Serbia joins EU visas will be re-established for all these countries.

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    4. ^By that time, these markets will develop enough for visas not to be an issue.

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    5. hope they negotiated to abolish visas for us too ;)

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    6. not sure this blackmailing will work, but ok. imo, Serbia will rather drift away from the club of the rich

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    7. ^ And you think a comment by an anonymous poster is the official policy of the country?

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    8. @anon 9.25 malo morgen

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    9. Ok @9.31. Really good points there. You persuaded me...

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    10. Iran, Morocco and India will develop in 10 years when Serbia joins the EU? Come again :)

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    11. The demand for these flights will so having to take out a visa won't present such an issue.

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    12. Abolishing visas for holders of Moroccan, Indian, Iraninan or Chinese passport holders has nothing to do with EU and it sends no signal to EU.

      Serbia is simply not yet EU member and still has all rights to decide citizens of which countries will enter its territory without visa.

      That kind of approach will cause revenue increasing in tourism and from the other side it can have nothing but positive results on developing BEG as the only airport in ex Yu region that will have year round flights to PEK, IKA, BEY, TUN, HRG, AUH (possibly CMN and DEL too).

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  3. At least Etihad has finally responded.

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    Replies
    1. I think this increase will eventually become permanent.

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  4. The competition between arab airlines on the ex-Yu market is interesting. And just 5 years ago no flights whatsoever. How things change.

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    Replies
    1. What's impressive is all this demand to the Middle East.

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    2. There is no big demand to the Middle East, most of traffic is transfer to far East,Australia,Africa

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    3. @last anon not true.

      check tourist numbers from the middle east throughout the region

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  5. Good. Hopefully this should help BEG have a strong summer.

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  6. So it is little wonder now why Turkish Airlines wanted to send A330-300s to Belgrade double daily. Too bad they got restricted.

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    Replies
    1. I think they will be hardest hit by all these extra seats on the market.

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    2. The desire for a capacity increase was primarily driven by demand from Turkey.

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    3. The demand from Turkey will now be satisfied by less transfer pax taking up the seats.

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  7. I always found it interesting how Air Cairo and Tunis Air fly to BEG year round on what are summer holiday routes.

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    Replies
    1. A lot of people go to Sharm El Sheikh during winter. I have an older friend who travels to Sharm each year twice - in summer and winter for a few weeks. She told me it's cheaper to stay in a 4 star hotel in Sharm during the winter then sit in Belgrade.

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    2. Interesting, thanks.

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    3. @9.12
      The outbound market is stronger than you think.

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    4. Great, and risk being blown up.

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    5. Security situation in both countries has stabilizes significantly.

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    6. Let's not forget that holders of Tunisian passports do not need visas to enter Serbia.

      Therefore there are also Tunisian tourists visiting Belgrade on this (also winter) flights and not only Serbians visiting Tunis.

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    7. I flew Belgrade - Tunis - Belgrade on Tunis Air at the end of January for work. Majority of passengers were well off Tunisians. I will write a trip report for EX-Yu soon.

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    8. At anon 10:25
      It's stable until it blows up again. Remember 2005 and again plane in 2015. Perhaps it's a 10yr cycle ? No way I would go to Egypt or Tunisia (for example)

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  8. Great news for Belgrade.

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  9. Which of the Iranian airlines is using wide bodies to BEG?

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    Replies
    1. Mahan Air, A310 :)

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    2. i love Mahan Air. Have flown with one of their A310-300 :D

      do they have scheduled flightsto BEG ??

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    3. Oh wow tell us about the experience!

      Only Iran Air has tickets on sale (extremely expensive). All the other ones are booked out by tour operators.

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    4. Nope, only IR has regular scheduled flights. Others have fixed charters.

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    5. i flew domestic Shiraz - Tehran THR (Tehran Mehrabad Airport) two years ago

      One of the most comfy flights i ever had, nice catering and crew.
      They tend to sit the (few) foreigners together to have a better control over them :D
      I have tried their jumbolino (BAe 146) on another domestic flight as well.

      Overall Mahan has a better reputation then Iran Air (which is
      being pushed by the gov)

      maybe i should make a trip report :)

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    6. Definitely to a TR. It would be a very interesting read :)

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    7. How many seats are there on Air Mahan's A310?

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    8. They have two configurations
      Either 188 or 202 seats.

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    9. Thank you. It must be very vintage inside. Last time I flew with a similar plane was the A300 from BEG to MIR with Tunis Air a few years ago. They did not have enough planes and were forced to cancel 2 flights into BEG so in the end they sent an A310. It was so 80s inside. Loved it.

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  10. So only Air Serbia was incapable of making flights to the Middle East work.

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    Replies
    1. Air Serbia's flights to Beirut and Tel Aviv seem to be holding up well.

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    2. But they failed in Abu Dhabi.

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    3. Did they really fail or were they ordered to stop these flights by Ethiad?

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    4. I doubt that. JU was not very full on this route. Only in the last 6 months did they start having healthy loads. EY is constantly packed on its Abu Dhabi flights even in slow months like November and February.

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    5. It makes little sense for Air Serbia to fly to Abu Dhabi with its current hybrid model.

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    6. JU should have started CAI and maybe AMM too.

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    7. Concerning to BEG-AUH on JU800, one of the issues was that the majority of sales on this flight were made through the Etihad codesare, which resulted in even less revenue for JU on this route.

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  11. Nice additions, plus with flights from Shanghai expected, and I think it will be a good year for Belgrade overall.

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  12. Still would be nice to see a widebody from one of these GCC airlines.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe QR next summer.

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    2. They don't have it easy as competition is fierce.

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    3. I would rather QR adds more flights than larger planes.

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  13. What about Amman?

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    Replies
    1. How nice it would be if Ryanair launched this route like they have from a few other cities.

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    2. Nish-Aqaba anyone? :D

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    3. @Anonymous 9.28

      No chance of that. Ryanair launched Amman after Jordan and EU signed open skies agreement. Since Serbia is not in the EU, flights between Serbia and Jordan are regulated by a bilateral which has restrictions on any airline from a third country operating these flights.

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  14. Anyone know Qeshm's load today? IR waa good with 96 if I remember well

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    Replies
    1. Seeing as it's Nowruz tomorrow, I'm sure the flights from Iran are having good loads.

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    2. What equipment are they using?

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  15. FlyDubai is doing really well in Belgrade. With Etihad and Qatar I thought they would be the first to be run out but their combination with Emirates plus a lot of P2P passengers have made them popular.

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    Replies
    1. Agree. To me they seemed the weakest on the market but obviously not the case.

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  16. I am really curious to see March numbers for BEG.

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  17. So to Asia this summer we have


    IST 18
    TLV 11
    AUH 10
    DXB 7
    DOH 7
    BEY 7
    SAW 4
    PEK 2

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    Replies
    1. How come IST us 18? TK is double daily while KK is 8 or 9.

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    2. Far the best connectivity to Asia from ex Yugoslavia

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    3. Yeah but EK is missing.

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    4. Usually, according to IATA IST is a European airport because it is built on European soil.

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    5. EK is presented in Belgrade through code share with FZ so from connectivity point of view Serbian passengers do not lose anything.

      From the other side FZ is actually much cheaper than EK.

      Randon dates in May (18-25.5)
      ZAG-DXB-ZAG with EK 500 EUR
      BEG-DXB-BEG with FZ 290 EUR
      BUD-DXB-BUD with EK 450 EUR

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    6. So EK is more a liability than a benefit? A status symbol. Then BEG is better off with FZ.

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    7. IST in Asia? *facepalm

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  18. How are the loads on flights between Doha and Belgrade?

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    Replies
    1. The fact that they are upgrading equipment to A321 should tell you they are good.

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  19. Excellent news for Belgrade Airport to start off the week.

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  20. I wish Egypt Air introduced flights from Cairo. If Air Cairo can make it work year round from Hurghada then surely Cairo can too.

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    Replies
    1. When Air Serbia launched they announced flights to Cairo. Then the revolution happened and they gave up. Doubt we will see them launch this route now.

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  21. Air Serbia should codeshare on TU's Tunis flights.

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  22. Great news for BEG. Not sure I would try those Iranian airlines, knowing their track record on safety but they will certainly add some pax to BEG.

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  23. No surprise with the Gulf increases. The number of Bosnian and Serbian citizens living there is increasing by the day.

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    Replies
    1. Qatar Airways for actively discourages point to point travel from Doha to Belgrade. Their fares are extremely high. Much cheaper to go with TK.

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    2. Same from SKP- more than 200 Euros difference QR vs. TK

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  24. It's interesting how much media coverage there has been for the Iran Air flights to BEG outside of Serbia. Even Reuters reported it o.O

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    Replies
    1. IR is also launching BUD shortly, direct from THR with AB6. They have OTP and SOF interest as well.

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    2. BUD is once per week seasonal.

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  25. I know a few people who will be going to Morocco this summer. Seems to be more interesting to now that Tunisia is off the radar for most people. Wonder if the flights from BEG could work.

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    Replies
    1. Which airline(s) are they using?

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    2. They are catching flights from Budapest. Ryanair.

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    3. MakeYourDinarGoFurther19 March 2018 at 20:57

      Wow, traveling ~400km one way to catch a flight sounds like a punishment to me. Not my idea of a relaxing holiday.

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  26. Iran Air tickets from Tehran to Belgrade are ridiculously expensive.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Over a 1000 euros!! WTF!?

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    2. Probably because there are just a few available seats.

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    3. what's funny?

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  27. So how many passengers in total can we expect in Belgrade this year?

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    Replies
    1. My prediction is 5.6 million.

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    2. I would say 6,1

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    3. You expect them to add 800,000 passengers this year?

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  28. Qeshm Air on its way to BEG.

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  29. Iranian carriers are the story of the year on here so far this year :D

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  30. If Air Serbia was smarter and worked on the transfer model they could have had a more active role in the Middle East and Central Asia. Now foreign carriers are eating the cake.

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    Replies
    1. Wasn't AZAL interested in launching flights from Baku to Belgrade a couple of years ago?

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    2. @12.17 there is a good reason they didn't start those flights. The yields would have been terrible and the LF as well.

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    3. Buta, the AZAL low cost division launched flights from GYD to SOF last January. I think there is potential for BEG too.

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    4. they stopped the AZAL low cost after one year

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    5. The flights to SOF are still running. What do you mean by they stopped them?

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    6. What they mean is that AzalJet stopped operating and has since been rebranded as Buta Airways.

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  31. According to AirlineRoute QR will be extending the A321 service throughout even during winter 2018! Who knows, maybe next year we see the Dreamliner just like VIE for instance.

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  32. Some days ago LZ-BVL arrived in BEG, could it be that AS uses it for its charters?

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    Replies
    1. No it is there on maintenance.

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    2. why they don't use their homebase's maintenance? The one in Sofia is the biggest in SEE /excluding the one at IST/

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    3. Rumour is outstanding debt to LH Tehnik Sofia (which is partly owned by the same company which owns Bul Air and Bulgaria Air) and LH had enough.

      It's not the first of their aircraft to go to base maintenance elsewhere in the past couple of months.

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    4. or LHT has no capacity right now...?

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