Sarajevo eyes Beijing flights via Belgrade


Bosnia and Herzegovina is seeking to establish flights with China via Belgrade as the two countries prepare to abolish visa requirements for each others' nationals at the end of the month. The Minister for Communications and Transport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ismir Jusko, has said a Beijing - Belgrade - Sarajevo service is likely following talks with the Chinese Ambassador to Bosnia, Chen Bo. Mr Jusko noted that the two are expected to sign a bilateral air agreement which would provide the legal framework for the establishment of flights. Ambassador Bo emphasised the tourism potential of Bosnia and noted that the number of visitors from China to the country increased between 130% and 140% in 2017 compared to the year before.

The development comes several months after Serbia suggested for China's Hainan Airlines to operate nonstop flights between Beijing and Belgrade, which would then continue on to Sarajevo. The carrier currently maintains a two weekly service between the Chinese and Serbian capitals via Prague, with fifth freedom rights on the Prague - Belgrade - Prague sectors. The Mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, noted that he has suggested to Hainan to amend the route. "Since our two countries [Serbia and Bosnia] see more and more tourists each year, it is our aim to offer a joint product so we can attract an even greater number of visitors from China. In that respect, I discussed the extension of flights from Beijing to Belgrade onto Sarajevo and we will hold talks with our Chinese partners on this matter".

The Mayors of Sarajevo and Beijing recently discussed the establishment of flights between the two cities. The head of Beijing, Chen Jining, showed particular interest in the matter, noting that services between the two capitals would significantly boost tourism. The two sides agreed for the relevant authorities from each country to continue talks over potential flights. Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to join Serbia and Montenegro in a regional tourism initiative aimed at attracting Chinese travellers. Currently, tourists arriving on Hainan Airlines' service to Belgrade continue their journey onto Montenegro following several days in Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to become the third destination on the tour of the region which will offer a "Paths of Walter" package based on the Yugoslav Partisan film "Walter Defends Sarajevo", which is, to this day, immensely popular in China.

Bosnia and Herzegovina will become only the third European country after San Marino and Serbia to allow visa free travel for Chinese passport holders. The two countries will mutually abolish visa requirements on May 29. It took nine months after Serbia and China ended visa requirements for flights between the two countries to launch, with a second service currently being negotiated.

Comments

  1. Nice. Anyone knows what their loads are currently to/from BEG?

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    1. Considering the growth in the number of tourists I would say the loads are satisfactory. Although I don't have precise numbers.

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  2. Interesting move by the Serbian government.
    Not only would BEG get a non-stop flight to China but they would also restore Air Serbia's monopoly to Prague.
    I think Chinese tourist numbers are still growing by triple digits so demand must be there. Hopefully we see a third flight soon.

    That said, BEG-SJJ on an A333 would be pretty cool. I think that would be the shortest widebody flight in Europe.

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    1. Smart move in my oppinion. But I assume Hainan will do this when the BEG-PEK route matures so they can have sufficient loads. Then again if they plan Shanghai they might start Beijing nonstop then. Having another city as a tag reduces the financial risk too.

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    2. I just checked online and this February there were 4.835 Chinese tourists in Serbia, that's 402% more than last year.

      I assume most of these arrived with Hainan. To me this seems like a really strong number in one of the weakest months of the year.

      No wonder a second Chinese destination is being considered. What I am curious about is if it will be non-stop or will it be a combination of two cities.

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    3. They can use Dreamliner 787-800 on PEK-BEG-SJJ route. It's smaller than A330-300, easier to fill.

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    4. Hainan 787-800 has 36 business and 177 economy seat configuration.

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    5. Just a small correction, it's 787-8, not 787-800. :)

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    6. Oh, sorry. Habit :) you're right

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  3. This could be an interesting routing. Might work

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  4. Belgrade-Sarajevo on an A330? :D how long would that flight even last?

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    1. About 30 minutes. Same as on the A319.

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    2. JU has sent A319 and B737 to Sarajevo on occasion so the flight time would be similar.

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  5. This would be great!

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  6. Nice to see regional cooperation in aviation and tourism.

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  7. BEG seems to be doing really well lately. May numbers should be especially strong, maybe around 10% growth? Besides the Chinese Turks seem to be coming in large numbers. Today alone there are six flights to Turkey:

    BEG-IST TK A321
    BEG-IST TK A321
    BEG-IST TK A321 (charter)
    BEG-IST KK A320
    BEG-SAW PC B738
    BEG-ESB TK A321

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    1. If beg has 10% growth then we will come close to having another month with 500.000 passengers.

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    2. Bravo BEG!

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    3. BEG's growth would be below 5% if there was no Easter in April.
      May should be 3% to 5% which is in line with other months.

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    4. Why do all months have to be in line? Don't forget, there is EuroLeague Final Four in May so growth should be very good, despite your hateful comment(s).

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    5. What kind of flights are these TK flights between BEG and ESB? Charters? Who uses them? Anyone knows?

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    6. There is a conference of Turkish tour operators in Belgrade. On Thursday 400 of them arrived.

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    7. Anon 11.19

      Interesting. Thanks. Do you know what was the point of the meeting in Belgrade? is it to further promote Serbia as a tourist destination or..?

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    8. Everyone is speaking about Turks but look at how silently LO has been improving its numbers. E95 has become more or less regular while tomorrow they will have two flights, E95 and E75. That's some 200 seats one way!

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    9. 1166 tourists from Poland in Serbia in march 2018. (+87,6%)

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    10. I wonder what percentage of those came with LO and how many by bus. Lots of Poles spend a day or two in Belgrade on their way to Greece.

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  8. What is JU doing this entire time? Why don't they codeshare with Hainan and sell tickets to SJJ operated by JU metal???

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    1. JU has no clue what they are doing. Dane was against Hainan flying from PRG so he sabotaged the whole code-share agreement out of spite.

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    2. Very unfortunate. Both sides would have benefited.

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    3. Yes, he was furious about it. Not as furious like when he heard Wizz Air is bringing the second A320 but still angry. :D

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    4. JU is implementing its fifth concept in four years. So misfortunate. They had to codeshare on these flights to China and Prague.

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    5. Anon at 10.01am ... if you have nothing but spite and lies as reason to write, then you are posting on the wrong blog.

      The reason why there is no codeshare in place, is pure and simple due to Chinese intransigence ... JU have been trying to conclude this from before they started flying to BEG and each time the response is the same - "it is with our senior management".

      You are free to check this with anyone in the JU Alliances team.

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    6. Abive anonymous, you forgot to add that this route had nothing to do with anyone at either JU or Hainan, or were anybody's concerns taken into consideration - this was pure govt to govt and JU was told to live with it and make it work.

      Since then, no one has been able to make any in roads into leveraging the relationship or in making the Chinese more open to collaboration - threats of terminating the limited SPA and commercial cooperation currently in place, have been completely rejected by the serbian govt for fear of upsetting the chinese and in them deciding to pull out ...

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    7. Anyone in JU Alliance team? There is one person left.

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    8. What is/was JU Alliance team?

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  9. Good news about visa abolition. Should bring in a lot more tourists.

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  10. An A330 nonstop from Beijing to Sarajevo would have to operate with payload restrictions. This is a good solution.

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    1. True,but you didnt understand the route.It is Beijing-Beg-Sjj.Not the other way around

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  11. How many Chinese visited Bosnia last year?

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    1. 2017 - 31.776
      2016 - 13.266

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    2. Thanks!!

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    3. You are welcome. Chinese were ranked tenth by visitor numbers to BiH in 2017. Interestingly South Koreans were fifth with 55.511 visitors.

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    4. Since Bosnia and Serbia are working together to attract tourists, I think it makes sense Jin Air announced flights to BEG.

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    5. I don't think a B777 can land in Sarajevo.

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    6. Serbia (Chinese tourists)
      2017. 45.000
      2016. 16.500

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    7. Small correction, there were 54.488 (+280%) in 2017.

      This year the number should be between 80.000 and 90.000. There will be more if Shanghai flights take place.

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    8. thanks for correction :) That is great number.

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    9. In Croatia it was 160k from mainland China and 30k from Hong Kong

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    10. An225 landed in SJJ few times, don't see why B777 or other widebodies (except maybe a380) would not make it.

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  12. This would be a very low yielding route.

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  13. If this materializes it would be the first time there would be a wide body operating this route since the break up of YU.

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    1. BEG-SJJ v.v. was never operated by widebody during ex-yu, only 3 local segment operated by JAT were from base in BEG to ZAG, LJU, and DBV, and than to North America. For one very short period, 1989/1990 DC10 used to land in SKP when returning from Australia, but never SJJ
      -

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    2. Actually this SKP landings were something like 1980/1981, my bad, sorry

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    3. I did not say they operated regularly but widebodies were used to Sarajevo from Belgrade on many occasions, including during the Winter Olympics and before war broke out.

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  14. It seems that visa free policy for Chinese and others is not that bad as some wish to present. Bosnia recognized that Serbia did excellent job by attracting Chinese carrier to fly to Belgrade and they wish to do now the same. Of course this time BEG would be the main player and SJJ would play previous BEG role.

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  15. Very interesting developments around Bosnia lately. I am really impressed on how seriously the government is acting to attract more visitors and develop its airports. Well done.

    I wanted to share with you the total number of visitors that visited Bulgaria last year. As you can see, the number of Romanians is huge, compared to the Germany for instance:

    http://www.nsi.bg/en/content/7058/arrivals-visitors-abroad-bulgaria-months-and-country-origin

    Greetings.

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  16. What's also interesting is that Etihad has recently downgraded many destinations but has only increased some like Belgrade, Baku and Nairobi.

    Goes to show that Serbia is a good market for many.

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