Serbia seeks Japan flights


Serbia has become the latest country in the former Yugoslavia to initiate talks over the introduction of nonstop flights to Japan, following on from Slovenia and Croatia over the past month. The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, said after talks with the Japanese Ambassador to Serbia, that a new bilateral Air Service Agreement between the two countries will be inked in the near future in order to facilitate the introduction of new services. The future operator of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, VINCI, holds a concession, as part of a consortium with Japanese partners, for two airports in Osaka, and this year added Kobe Airport to its portfolio. VINCI has said it plans to link Belgrade with a number of its other airports across the world.

Serbia and Japan do not require visas for each others' nationals. In 2017, there were 5.769 Japanese visitors to Serbia, which, although light, was still ahead of arrivals from much closer markets such as Portugal, Finland and Ireland. In 2016, All Nippon Airways (ANA) expressed initial interest in operating flights between Japan and Belgrade, however, no concrete agreement was reached and the services never materialised. The National Tourism Organisation of Serbia recently held talks in Tokyo with Japanese tour operators, the country’s tourism board, as well as the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan-Southeast Europe Business Association in a bid to boost travel between the two countries.

The Serbian Ministry for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure is aiming to attract more medium and long haul flights to the country in an effort to improve tourism and connectivity. It has identified several markets which hold potential to generate inbound or outbound travel from Serbia in the form of seasonal or charter flights, including Japan, Canada, India and South Korea, as well as further opportunities in the United States and China. Commenting on its upcoming plans, Ms Mihajlović said, "In the coming period we expect even more new flights from Belgrade Airport, which will link us with previously unserved markets and in turn boost tourism". Last year, Belgrade Airport identified counterparts in Zagreb and Budapest as its main competitors to securing long haul services. In a statement at the time, it said, "Our aim is to become a gateway for long haul flights in Southeastern Europe to North America, China and Asia, as well as to introduce new routes to the Euro-Mediterranean region and strengthen our regional connectivity, which would, in turn, help increase loads on flights to the abovementioned markets. The main competitors in achieving these goals are first and foremost Zagreb and Budapest".

Comments

  1. Interesting, My guess is if something comes of it ANA or JAL could operate charter flights.

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  2. BEG is well positioned to handle more long haul flights. In my opinion there is a market and the airport has the infrastructure. Just today there are 6 widebody passenger flights from Belgrade - New York with A330-200 (Air Serbia), three flights to Istanbul with A330-300 (Turkish), Beijing with A330-300 (Hainain) and Moscow with A330-300 (Aeroflot).

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    1. +9 A321 today

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    2. I am especially impressed with Aegean. Seems like they captured a large part of the market.

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    3. Why is the subject concerning the arrival of A321 so repetitive? All bigger airports in the region receive them on a daily basis. Why not mention the arrival of the A320 neo instead? SKP, which is much smaller, will permenantly have them this summer, not to mention SOF or SKG, which have been serving A321 since years now.

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    4. Maybe read again. We are alking about 6 A330s. And no I don't think an A320neo is wow since both BEG and ZAG permanently have widebodies.

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    5. Few days ago TK sent 330 to ZAG. The same day Transat was there with 330 as well and Emirates with 777. And nobody makes it even mentioning while it's normal for an airport to have planes and flights included widebodied. But some people here, when bigger plane lands @BEG make it breaking news, as the space shuttle landed

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    6. The difference is you had TK send 1 A330 for the first time in years. Here you have six widebodies in one day so why is it a problem that somebody wrote a comment about it? Does it bother you that much? I think it is interesting to read that 6 flights were operating with a widebody to Belgrade today. Should it be banned for the person to write this under a topic related to long haul flights to Belgrade?

      BTW a person posted a comment when that one TK A330 landed in Zagreb. Where were you then?

      Get a life.

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    7. The thing is that this is best proof the government shouldn't have banned TK's request as generally passenger growth at BEG shows there is really demand/need for them.

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    8. @11.25 He was just noting that there is a high number of wide body special flights today. What is your problem?

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    9. Thai A350-900 in BEG

      https://youtu.be/EFx2YYXk3wA

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    10. @AnonymousMay 21, 2018 at 11:48 AM

      Really nice, since we're talking Thai Airways, Thai Government is negotiating open air agreement with Croatian Government on requests by Thai Airways, Thai Airways is thinking of adding Zagreb to its list of destinations in not too distant future. Other carriers, Singapore Airlines and India Air are also looking at adding Zagreb sometimes hopefully not too distant future.

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    11. How is your comment related to anything?

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    12. Company called India Air does not exist. But good luck.

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    13. As if ZAG should cheer everyday receiving EK and going yaaayy. Btw, W6 A321 that will fly to SKP will have just a slightly smaller seat capacity. So the bigger doesn't necessarily mean the better.

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  3. So why does everyone suddenly want flights to Japan?

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    1. Olympics, large untapped market?

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    2. What I'm noticing is that this initiative is coming from the Japanese side in all three cases so it is that they have recognised this region as having the potential.

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    3. Japanese PM said that they want to promote their companies here the same way Chinese did.

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  4. There was a similar number of Chinese tourists before flights started.

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  5. Charters would be great to start off with. I'm curious to see which airlines Vinci will try to attract.

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    1. Ryanair in BEG would be the bomb.

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    2. Belgrade is too expensive for them.

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    3. Ryan will come to ZAG before BEG

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    4. FR in ZAG is very, very unlikely!

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  6. with 5.769 jap tourist looking for flights?? Come on folks

    places like PRG, Berlin have no direct flights. even VIE was struggling

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    1. Like someone said. There was the same number of Chinese tourists to Serbia before flights started. Now Chinese are the number 1 tourists in Serbia.

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    2. Hm. Berlin struggles to fill a B752 to New York so I don't think they are a good comparison.

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    3. Anon @9.13AM
      By that theory, all it takes is to link the two destinations and the tourists will follow?

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    4. Serbia actually invested into promoting itself in China. There were more activities than just introducing flights.

      Same would be done with Japan.

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    5. It takes more than just promotion. Any country can promote itself on any market. That still isn't enough. Chinese are flocking in these numbers to Serbia mostly because of the no-visa regime.

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    6. Croatia has 300.000 visitors and no direct flight.

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    7. That shows their lack of ability.

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    8. Chinese are flocking everywhere. Serbia was just smarter than some other countries because it managed to score a direct flight.

      Promotion is extremely important as that's how different nations let others know they are worth visiting.

      Serbia has almost 100.000 tourists from Romania and as many from places like Greece or Bulgaria. So it's not just about the visa regime.

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    9. Any why not? Belgrade will continue growing especially since Chinese flights keep on being extremely popular and Iranians actually adding more flights than previously planned.

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    10. Romania and Bulgaria are all neighboring countries, therefore it's quite easy and cheap to visit Serbia.

      I'm saying that whenever there's a news that some far-east airline might start ZAG services, there's always someone saying that out of all these hundreds or thousands of visitors, 90% of them visit Croatia and Zagreb on their European tour, therefore - the direct flights would be unsustainable. If BEG gets these flights - great for BEG, but I can't comprehend when ZAG is mentioned in the same context - these flights are not logical.

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    11. You are taking what one or two people say and present it as if everyone says it. I don't think it's illogical for Zagreb to have flights from the far east. I find it surprising that it doesn't have flights from China and year round from Korea considering the number of visitors.

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    12. I never said that everyone is saying that, but there's always someone that pops up with such "facts".

      And I don't find it as surprising since much bigger destinations than ZAG still don't have direct long haul flights to destinations from which tourists are flocking for years. These airlines are not Qatar or Emirates that have plentiful of aircraft to deploy to any destination where there's any demand to/from.

      Even though I might not use any of them, I hope they will materialize in the near future.

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    13. The difference is, that the Japanese asked for direct flights to ZAG, it wasn't the other way around!

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    14. @ last anon You and your country are amazing and the best. Hope it calms you down now.

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    15. Well BEG will handle six million passengers this year while ZAG will be around 3.3 or so.

      Logically speaking it makes more sense for them to happen at a larger, busier airport that already has year-round long-haul flights.

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    16. 3,3 and 6 mil doesn't make that much difference to an airline and they will fly to the destination that is more in demand. Also, ZAG also has year round long-haul flights.

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    17. How don't you people get tired of this ZAG vs BEG comparison.

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    18. Year round long-haul flight, not flights.

      Well, that's almost double the number of passengers. The fact airlines keep on launching BEG flights shows that there is growing demand and that airline find interest here. Just the other week Mahan announced a third weekly flight from IKA.

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    19. frishki@ ZAG doesn't have year round long haul flights.Emirates isn't that. But ZAG has year round operations with wide body plane. BEG has flights to DXB too, ZAG doesn't have flights to JFK and PEK. Ok you have YYZ but seasonal.

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    20. DXB-ZAG is medium haul, not long haul but they use wide body(longhaul) plane on route

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    21. Even if you don't call ZAG-DBX a long-haul flight, that isn't any indicator to which destination an airline should fly next.

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    22. Well we weren't speaking about the size of the aircraft but rather about the number of passengers and airport handles.

      I think BEG has the biggest market potential but more importantly it's not as seasonal as most other airports in the region. This is extremely important for most airlines.

      February is generally the slowest month of the year and BEG managed to reach 300.000 which isn't that bad. April (without Easter lol) reached 450.000.

      Seasonality is the region's worst enemy.

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    23. And yet, airline like Emirates started ZAG service. This is one of the ways how to tackle the seasonality and also, far east travelers don't travel only during the summer months, but year round.

      Also, BEG and ZAG have the same seasonality difference. If you take BEG and its slowest and busiest months (Feb and Aug 2017), you get the difference of 77,7% and when you take ZAG (Feb and July 2017), the difference is 77,8%.

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    24. @AnonymousMay 21, 2018 at 10:37 AM

      Croatia had 160 000 Chinese tourists in 2017, and no direct flight, if you add Taiwanese and HK yes it is 300 000 Chinese.
      However, it is misleading to say it is 300 000 Chinese, as most people would assume it is the mainland.

      However, first 4 months of the year, number of Chinese visitors from the mainland alone, is up by 42%, based on first 4 months, we can expect between 220 and 250 000 Chinese visitors to Croatia this year, around 80-100 000 in Zagreb, Zagreb takes around 40% of all intercontinental visitors on average.








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    25. Frishki, of course they started ZAG first when there is less competition to Asia and the Middle East than compared to Belgrade.

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    26. Right and there's no competition from far east, so there's no obstacle to start flights from Japan and/or China.

      We could be throwing numbers and our own theories and facts, but we'll all have to sit and wait when and if one of these routes will materialize.

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    27. And no one said that we have anything else to do but exactly that. The point is that BEG has done a fantastic job expanding its network, not only in Europe but in Africa and Asia too.

      If I had to bet on a ex-YU airport, my money would be on BEG.

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    28. The network here doesn't make much difference since they are looking for a final destination, not a connecting hub. This route would be mostly for visitors that use either of the airports as their final destination, tour around and return from the same airport.

      Also, ZAG isn't lacking with its network, considering it's size.

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    29. How many have zagreb or any other croatian airports as their point of entry to europe? Most of the chinese tourists visit more countries during their stay in europe

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    30. There aren't any since there are no direct flights. They need to fly or drive to Croatia from other point of entry. But that could change.

      ZAG wouldn't be illogical choice especially because of it's OU network towards the coast. Even if they don't want to fly, there are multiple bus routes that connect Zagreb with the coast and neighboring countries.

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    31. Only carrier that would make sense to use OU's network is Air China and they have the coast covered through MUC and VIE.

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    32. Kad je tema ZAG ja ne mogu da ostavim ni jedan komentar o BEG a da ne bude obrisan. Danas je tema BEG a friški samo trpa svoju ZAG mirođiju u svaku čorbu.

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    33. Vodim najnormalniju i civiliziranu diskusiju, a ti mene prozivaš za "trpanje mirođija"?
      Da ti možda tvoj rječnik nije bio na nivou, pa te se eliminiralo, a prema ovom prozivanju iz vedra neba, ne bi me čudilo.

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    34. Comments about other airports, be it TIV, TZL or ZAG should be deleted today.

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    35. If they get deleted, all of the posts in the future that are not 100% on topic will have to be deleted.
      And BTW, this discussion was between BEG and ZAG.

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  7. One thing is certain, BEG has been able to attract a lot of extra airlines in recent months. I am sure a Japanese carrier could recreate Hainan's success in Belgrade.

    Tourism from China is growing at such fast rate that Hainan alone can't carry all the passengers. That's one of the reasons why other carriers such as Etihad, Qatar, Turkish Airlines ...all expressed interest in adding more flights.

    On top of that, Serbs travel A LOT and they go to a lot of exotic destinations. From what I see, Tanzania is all the rage this year.

    With Qatar and Etihad upping their presence in Belgrade, FZ needs to respond otherwise ...

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    1. Hainan's success, what success?! It is still only 2pw via PRG and no direct flights.

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    2. Booming numbers of Chinese tourists after their launch is not success according to you?

      By that logic they are not successful in Prague either as it's linked with Belgrade.

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    3. As I know, they planned to open direct route from summer season, but there is still no increase in any way. Booming (in %) is relative if you have minor number in start.

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    4. No, they didn't. Not once. You have to differentiate what politicians were saying what they "hope" would happen. But then again I remember here how everyone was writing the flights would never launch. So under old formula (like with Air Serbia's New York), the next phase is to repeat that flights are a failure.

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    5. I dont think its failure, but still it is only 2pw via PRG and that is not a lot of seats to fill, lets be honest.

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    6. Well more Chinese are arriving than Hainan offers seats meaning that they are not responding to increased demand. You snooze you lose.

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    7. A lot of Chinesse tourists going to Belgrade via DOH,DXB,SVO,AUH,IST...not only with Hainan.

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    8. Well, last year there were 58.000 Chinese tourists so it's not such a minor number. At this rate, Serbia will have over 80.000 Chinese visitors.

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    9. Belgrade will continue growing especially since Chinese flights keep on being extremely popular and Iranians actually adding more flights than previously planned.

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  8. It seems unreal to think Belgrade might have nonstop flight to Japan (charter or regular) before having a flight to Toronto and Chicago.

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    1. One could have said the same for IKA or PEK.

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  9. I am not really sure if this is going to work out. Lets see, maybe Belgrade can actually have a chance.

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  10. Shinzo Abe was in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania this January. Maybe we will see some results of that visit soon.

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    1. Yeah, for sure! Because Japan is China or North Korea. In normal countries PM and Presidents don't have anything to do with planning of new routes.

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    2. No one said he was planning new routes. A president's visit togeather with a business delegation draws attention to a certain market. Or do you think accidentally the Serbia-Japan business forum was created 2 months after his visit. Maybe calm down a bit and think before you write.

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  11. It's a shame Air Serbia has no plans to grow its TATL network

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    1. They could fly 3 pw to JFK and 3 pw to Chicago in winter.

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    2. And then what do they do in summer when they fly 6 per week to New York?

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    3. If Etihad had a more hands on approach they could get one of their widebodies to land in BEG on its way to Toronto or Chicago. Especially now with the Gulf-US air spat ending.

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    4. If Air Serbia is not planning any other long haul routes then they really have to start thinking about next winter and how to utilise that A330.

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    5. Agree. The worst thing would be to keep the aircraft on the ground. That's a disaster.

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    6. They didn't mind doing so for the last 3 years.

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  12. I love how whenever there is a topic about some interest about long haul to Belgrade there are so many hurt egos. Yet when you look at the comments for the same news for Ljubljana and Zagreb there a high fives and "bravos". Love it.

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    1. @An.9:35
      300 000 Japanese in Croatia and 200 000 in Slovenia, and 5 000 "in Serbia is not about hurt egos, it's about the facts and the numbers.

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    2. Nice. Neither of them have flights to China or the US either.

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    3. It remains fact that whenever there is a topic about Belgrade long haul flights people such as yourself come here to belittle the airport. Like someone said above - you and your country are the best and most amazing. I hope that calms you down for the day and you can carry on.

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    4. Maybe there are tourists, but compagnies don't fly tout minor airports.
      BEG Has the most of the chances for these flight sincères it Is the best connected airport in the region with other reguonal airports... And that Is the win for all companies year around.
      You max like it or not, but Belgrade is the centre of the region.
      Bravo Beograd! :-)

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    5. @Anon at 11:37

      "It remains fact that whenever there is a topic about Belgrade long haul flights people such as yourself come here to belittle the airport"

      That is a fact and it can be corroborated by looking at the comments going back years, esp since BEG-JFK restarted in 2016.

      However that can be easily rectified by active moderation. We just have to hope it will happen one day.

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  13. Less talk, more action.

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    1. I think they have done quite well this year already. 3 new airlines in BEG so far this year, 4th starting next month.

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    2. I think that Emirates is next (2018-2019)

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  14. List of future plausible talked/rumoured long haul/intercontinental destinations to BEG:

    Mexico City (Air Serbia) sorry had to add this one to start with it is Monday:-D
    Toronto (Air Serbia)
    Chicago (Air Serbia)
    Seoul (Jin Air)

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    1. Who exactly mentioned Mexico City? And if you are referring to Mihajlovic when they signed an Air Service Agreement with Mexico, no one takes that seriously and it was years ago.

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    2. Anon 09:50, the guy was joking regarding Mexico...the irony has been obvious :)

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    3. Jin Air said they would star flights in 2020. So still quite some time away.

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    4. There is nothing funny about Mexico City. It is an underserved [or to be more exact] unserved market from South and East Europe and Asia. A well organized airline could have a shot at it given its advantage over the ME3 where geography simply prohibits direct flights. Nothing to laugh here about.

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  15. I look forward to seeing the next new destination.

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  16. I think this summer we are going to see passenger number growing around 10% per month. For example, the charter season will be much stronger. During summer Aviolet alone will operate on average three daily flights BEG and AYT!

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    1. Given the way the market is developing six million is not unrealistic.

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  17. Flights to Japan would be more than cool! I really wish BEG to be connected with KIX or NRT (HND). 2xpw or 3xpw in high season would be enough.

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  18. Good news for the flying public and Serbian tourism.

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  19. It will be interesting to see how BEG's route network develops when the new owners come. Free of politics.

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    1. Hopefully they will work on attracting more European legacy airlines. More so than long hauls.

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    2. One more chance BEG to get flights from Japan!

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  20. I see India happening before Japan.

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  21. All answers will be by VINCI Airpots, in regards future aviation busines in Belgrade. At least in next 25 years. Sydney is too far away. But maybe not to VINCI.Lot of destinations will developing. Belgrade is on right place...
    Let to be see in few years.
    Rodney,
    Sydney.

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    1. Not only Vinci, but government of Serbia, which needs to promote Serbia more and more as a attraction off the beaten trail, for travellers.

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  22. Nothing really serious comes from this lady.

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  23. This will be interesting. If it is ANA for example they won't fly to Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade. They will have to pick and choose one. Let's see which one it will be.

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    1. Belgrade as it Is the centre of the region

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    2. Of the ex-YU region. Beyond that it's quite a small player with 5 million passengers.

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    3. What to say then about 3 and something million passengers...

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  24. Again, if 'seeking' or 'eyeing' or 'looking into' flights was the same as actually setting up routes, exYU region would be by far the world's hottest aviation market.

    Unfortunately exYU region shines when it comes to talking the talk, and then things go amazingly different in walking the walk.

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    1. Well things worked out for BEG-JFK and BEG-PEK, didn't they?

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  25. Serbia and Canada signed an ASA so I guess YYZ is next.

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  26. This is so ridiculos.
    The name of the game is my neighbour has it so I have to have it too. Thats crazy and imature!

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    1. Well on Austria and Turkey have scheduled flights to Japan and they are not exactly neighbours with Serbia. ;)

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    2. And if someone thought maybe on Croatia - they have no flights to Japan.

      They surely plan them but we know they also have planned flights to US and according to the enthusiasts here these flights are just round the corner.

      For 5 years already.

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  27. Second Aerofolot A330 is on it's way to Belgrade today, so there will be 7 passenger widebodies in BEG today.

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    1. Amazing news. Well done BEG! And many more to come.

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