JAL eyes East Europe flights


Japan Airlines (JAL) is considering serving points in Eastern Europe through its newly established long haul low cost airline, giving airports in the former Yugoslavia an opportunity to be linked with Tokyo. The airline has not disclosed which routes will be served first. However, it noted that destinations which can be visited by young travellers with more restricted budgets during peak season will be the airline’s first targets. It added that routes in Eastern Europe, Asia and North America are all being considered at this point. The newly established carrier will commence operations during the summer of 2020 in time for the Olympic games in Tokyo. It will operate with a fleet of two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.

Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia are all seeking flights to Japan. Both the Slovenian and Croatian governments have held talks with JAL's rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) over potential services to Ljubljana and Zagreb. Slovenia has seen a steady flow of Japanese tourists over the past few years, with the Slovenian Tourist Board putting Japan amongst the country's key overseas markets. Over 30.000 Japanese travellers visited Slovenia last year, which is up some 1% on 2016. They are most likely to visit the country in May, August and October and spend almost half of their time in Ljubljana. On the other hand, the Croatian government has authorised the Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, to commence talks with his Japanese counterpart over the establishment of scheduled flights between Zagreb and Tokyo. The two sides will first have to sign a Bilateral Air Service Agreement, which has already been drafted, with Mr Butković expressing hope for negotiations to be swift in order for flights between the two capitals to be launched in the near future. In 2017, a total of 142.043 holidaymakers from Japan arrived in the country, representing an increase of 17.4% on 2016. The majority of those stayed in Dubrovnik, followed by Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, Split and Opatija.

The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, said that a new Bilateral Air Service Agreement with Japan 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.

JAL has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia. This year it operated one charter flight to Ljubljana in August and previously maintained charters to Zagreb as well. The new long haul low cost carrier is part of JAL’s strategy of expanding the number of cities it serves. The group wishes to increase the number of cities from 343 to 500 as well as making non-Japanese revenues hit a target of 50%. This strategy is aligned with Japan’s current social crisis, where more than 30% of the Japanese population is 65 or older. The airline plans to stimulate the overseas market and bring people into Japan.

Comments

  1. I assume they will first be heading to Budapest.

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    1. If you look at stats from both countries, Croatia had more tourists from Croatia then Czech Republic or Hungary.

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    2. Interesting. Well done Croatia.

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    3. Taking in consideration that Hungary and Czech Republic are continental countries and Croatia has very long and beautiful, warm Adriatic coast it is actually more than expected Croatia to have more tourists. Opposite would be strange.

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    4. Czech Republic and Hungary have a lot more to offer historically-wise year-round.

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    5. https://www.total-croatia-news.com/lifestyle/22729-spiegel-names-zagreb-most-boring-city-in-europe

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    6. @Anonymous3 September 2018 at 17:37

      Clearly does not cater to her taste, lol, did you read the comments bellow the article, really nice, lol, she might have had bit of negative feedback as a result, who knows perhaps she is sent to Paris next time, hopefully not in nazi uniform. Read the comments you'll see why.

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  2. Why do they no longer fly charters to Zagreb?

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    1. They will fly to ZAG scheduled service very soon.

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    2. Didn't you first say it would be ANA? Btw this airline launches in 2020.

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    3. JAL had serious financial problems, they pulled out of doing seasonal charters, now it is done by ANA to Dubrovnik, and ANA is negotiating flights to Zagreb with scheduled flights possible in 2019.

      175 000 Japanese visitors are expected to visit Croatia this year, 30 000 more than last year when 142 000 Japanese visitors visited Croatia.

      Croatia expects 1.7 million visitors from Asia and Australia, 1.4 million from Far East and South East Asia and 300 000 from Australia and New Zealand.

      In 2020, Some 2 million visitors from Asia and Australia are expected to visit Croatia, 1.6 million from Asia and 400 000 From Australia and N.Z.

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    4. Financial problems don't seem to have stopped them from flying to Ljubljana.

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    5. JAL actually turned down request from tour operators to fly to Zagreb two years ago. They cited high fees.

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    6. JAL and the tour operators were unhappy with ZAG and switched to LJU about 7 years ago.

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  3. How about Tokyo - Ljubljana - Zagreb - Tokyo?

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    1. I doubt it. I think it can either be Ljubljana or Zagreb but ANA/JAL definitely won't fly to both.

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  4. 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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  5. This would be great if it happened. It would also make it affordable to visit Japan.

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    1. What are the current fares from ex-Yu to Japan?

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    2. Totally depends on month of travel and duration. But I know you can't find cheaper than 500€ from either of them. Turkish and ME3 also do not discount fares to Japan. While they constantly have some special deals on asian destinations, Japan is never in them.

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    3. You can fly for 600€ with qatar airways which is the cheapest

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  6. Actually I could see this airline flying to BEG, similar to the way Jin Air announced plans to launch flights to BEG.

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    1. Jin Air isn't serious outfit, they promised loads of stuff, don't expect any of this to materialize.

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  7. Japanese tourists represent a large market potential for all three countries.

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  8. When it comes to BEG, I think an air-link with DEL is more probable. The government held talks with IndiGo which already started hiring people in IST. Those neos could be deployed to BEG as well.

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    1. Pfff, but this will be a super long journey with an A320, something like the ZAG-DXB FZ route, which will be flown with a 737 for 6 hours.

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    2. I agree. I see India happening before Japan.

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    3. An. 9:17
      Of course , poor ZAG passengers who fly FZ to DXB on 737 MAX for 6 hours and lucky and blessed BEG passengers who fly FZ BEG DXB for 5 hours 45 minutes. LOL

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    4. Number of Indian tourists to Serbia has been steadily rising despite there being literally no promotion. In July we passed the thousand mark when 1.029 of them visited Serbia.

      By the way, here are some other stats:

      1. Turkey - 20.201 - 61.938
      2. China - 10.828 - 53.054
      3. Iran - 7.299 - 15.855
      4. India - 1.029 - 4.210

      With around 1.000 visitors per month, establishing non-stop flights with India makes sense. Especially when you have IndiGo and their A321neo.

      As for Turks, growth has more or less stopped as the market has been limited. Serbian government must allow additional flights for the upward trend to continue.

      Foreign arrivals jumped by 15% in July to 205.112 visitors.

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    5. July had like 50% of Iranian arrivals in the first six months. :O :O

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    6. 10:30 Yes, 5 hours is okay but not 6. Will be a tiring journey.

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    7. I think BEG-DXB is 05.15. It's horrible as well, Emirates should come to BEG. :D

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    8. They made a big mistake by getting rid of their A330s - the medium-sized aircraft have much more demand. I think they can halt their 777x and switch to smaller 787 - 200 seater is just perfect! It is more enjoyable. But 6 hours feels like you are in a can.

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  9. I think Slovenia will get them first before any other ex-Yu capital. I don't see BEG as a potential destination for them nor is Zagrab.

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    1. Elaborate why Slovenia please. They only had 30k visitors, while Croatia had 5 times more. Please explain why you think Slovenia will get them before a larger market does?

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    2. @Anonymous3 September 2018 at 09:21

      He's trolling.

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    3. I wouldn't be so bold in saying who will get them first, but in Slovenia in addition to turists you also have a presence of three very big Japanese companies: Kansai Paint (Helios), Yaskawa (their Europe robotics R&D and production facility), Sumitomo Rubber (Lonstroff production facility).

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    4. 09:21 No need for that tone. Croatia cannot be omnipresent.
      Also like the last anon told you, there are many Japanese companies in the country and if you read the article (which I doubt) it says:

      "Slovenia has seen a steady flow of Japanese tourists over the past few years, with the Slovenian Tourist Board putting Japan amongst the country's key overseas markets. Over 30.000 Japanese travellers visited Slovenia last year, which is up some 1% on 2016. They are most likely to visit the country in May, August and October and spend almost half of their time in Ljubljana."

      Cappicci?

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    5. Do you capicci it's about LCC, and young tourists, not legacy and businesmen. Read the article more carefuly and you will see why HR has more potential compared to SLO. But as ZAG and LJU are so close, it might be ANA to ZAG and JAL LCC to LJU. Actually I wish it could happen that way although I seriously doubt they would go anywhere in ex-yu with only 2 Dreamliners

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    6. Zagreb and Ljubljana are smaller and competitive markets.
      The most potential ex-Yu destinations are Dubrovnik and Belgrade.

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    7. Anonymus 10:15 capicci diesn't mean anything. Inform yourself if you want to use italian words.

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  10. Probably Maribor seeing as they just lost all those long haul connections.

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  11. Good luck! There is definitely potential.

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  12. I think there is more chance for ANA to go to wither LJU or ZAG, and this long haul LCC to BEG.

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    1. With 5.769 jap tourist in Serbia? Seriously.

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    2. So? The number of Chinese visitors was even lower when flights started. Now they are number 1 tourists in Belgrade.

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

      Same would be done with Japan.

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    4. 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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    5. Belgrade surely has a chance

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  13. And the obsession with long haul flights in Ex-Yu continues :D

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    1. And tell me please why not ?Is it forbidden? Or maybe we don't deserve it? Or we are incompetent? Let me remind you that JAT some 30 years ago had intercontinental network bigger than Turkish, Austrian or Finnair, and Yugoslavia was served by PAN AM, Air Canada, Air China, Qantas, Iraqi Airways, Kuwait Airways, Zambia Airways ...

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    2. We are incompetent.

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  14. Shinzo Abe was in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania this year. Hopefully we will see some results of that visit soon.

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    1. Japan is not China. Prime-ministers in Japan don't open political routes.

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    2. No one said he was opening new routes. A president's visit together 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.

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    3. Of course it was not accidentally. Serbia was carefully chosen on his route to Eastern Europe and the results are already visible.

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    4. @Anonymous3 September 2018 at 09:34

      Shinzō Abe could have spent his childhood in Serbia, wouldn't matter a thing, Airlines must see there's a market for their flights, and with what 6000 Japanese visitors to Serbia in 2017, you can bet there won't be any Tokyo flights any time soon.


      Ideally Japanese carriers are looking for a strong market, Serbia and Belgrade ain't it.
      JAL currently flies only to Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, Milan and London in Europe. I doubt this will change any time soon. If they do decide on other flights in Europe, it'll be Amsterdam, Munich, Madrid and Barcelona before any other destination.

      These are large hubs each handling over 40 million pax, in some cases over 60 million.
      If JAL low cost comes to some sort of fruition, it'll be more catering to leisure travelers, and for that you really need to have a market, in EX-Yu only Croatia and perhaps Slovenia can attract numbers that would be profitable for such service.

      Any notions of them covering every hole in the Balkans as some of you perceive your place as most important city that must be connected to entire world, is just delusional thinking.
      JAL must look at where their market is, who they're catering to and is there any profit or viability in Service.

      Japanese love nature, above all else they love water and forests, hiking and long walks. Culture to them is 2nd thing. Younger generations love pop culture phenomena like most younger generations across western world.

      In this part of the world, Plitvice lakes, Bled and Krka waterfall, would be most popular places to visit for Japanese, Brioni Islands, Mljet Island, Dubrovnik for younger generations. Ljubljana and Zagreb for most, would also be on top of their lists and places to visit.

      57000 Japanese visitors to Zagreb last year, is another good statistics that goes in hand to Zagreb as their choice destination in the region, if JAL low cost decides to contemplate this region to start with, somehow I doubt they will bother.

      Hope I am wrong, but looking at least of destinations in Europe I am not holding my breath.

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    5. Yes you are right because Serbia doesn't have any nature for the Japanese to explore. Also when it comes to more urban areas for the outgoing young ones, Belgrade hands down beats all other cities in ex-YU. If that wasn't true then hordes of young Croats and Slovenes wouldn't be coming to Belgrade.

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  15. Priorities for Ljubljana should be flights to the Middle East and better connections to the Scandinavian and Russian markets. When they do that then they can think about Japan and China.

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    1. And they should attract more low cost airlines and make flying more affordable.

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    2. LCC offer is not bad from Ljubljana - Wizz, easyjet, Transavia. Could be better but its not bad.

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  16. All three markets are simply to small to justify scheduled longhaul to Japan. These routes are hardly sustainable even from bigger markets.

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    1. That's why all three markets have a much bigger chance to get these long haul low cost flights actually.

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    2. @Anonymous3 September 2018 at 09:37

      Zagreb has best chance of getting the flights, question is, will be year round. Croatia expects over 170 000 Japanese visitors this year, and 200 000+ visitors next year. Going Croatia's way is also Korean air, and Emirates maintaining service to Zagreb.

      One serious issue for Zagreb Airport right now is, inadequate number of gates for wide body aircraft. Zagreb plans to add these between December and late April, with work on new section starting in mid-October, with new gates added by mid-April in 2019. Ideally Zagreb will be able to host two widebody aircraft from May 2019.

      This should ease situation post May, once Air Canada, Air Transat, potentially ANA, China Eastern, Emirates and Korean air start sending their wide body aircraft. Zagreb could be seeing 23 wide body aircraft rotations per week in 2019, right now it is 17. 7 Emirates, 3 air Transat, 4 Air Canada, 3 Korean air.

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    3. You mean 10 widebodies starting December, when FZ takes over.
      Zagreb will not got any flights to Japan, it needs to finally attract at least easyJet.

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    4. Once again, FZ is not taking over, it's 3 months lowest season temporary replacement. B777 is scheduled to fly whole 2019 again and ticket are on sale. So please stop with your trolling

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    5. EK is acting politely and diplomatically. The flights are more likely to be extended.
      Anyway, if this ever happens next year too, the ZAG will become the only seasonal route in the its network.

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    6. @09:50

      Can you please cut the crap with China Eastern? No one ever mentioned those flights except for your wild imagination.

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    7. It is not always the most important the number of tourists.

      Japanese companies are already working in Serbia and obviously they intend to increase their presence here. The best proof for that was Mr. Abe's visit to Serbia in January this year where Serbia was the only country out of EU that was visited by him and his delegation.

      From the other side we must not forget the fact that Vinci works very closely with Japanese airports and it is more than expected to push for the link between Belgrade and certain Japanese airport.

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  17. People shouldn't laugh and rule things out. No one thought American would start flights to Dubrovnik and here they are launching the flights next year. Nothing is impossible.

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    1. No dear, DBV has a reputation, name and EFFECIENT management. It is currently competing with airports like Athens, Budapest and Bucharest.

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    2. When AA network planning looks at new destinations, they just search for the most efficient airport management in the world and they just fly there? So if for example Växjö Sweden has the most efficient management, AA starts flying there? Things I learned today on this blog...

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    3. Well, if you compare horrible airports such as Hahn and Beauvais no airline will choose to fly there. Also Dubrovnik has been like that for many decades. Why are you so jealous anyway? didn't your airport not manage to receive flights from the world's biggest airline?

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  18. The way I see it, ANA will go to either LJU or ZAG, and JAL's subsidiary might go to BEG.

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  19. Long shot. We will see.

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  20. Could they have a more unimaginative livery? Hope they get more creative with this new airline.

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  21. I actually think that these Asian long haul LCCs are a good opportunity for airports in ex-Yu but they also have to show some initiative and chase up airlines. They can't just sit and wait and expect airlines to flock to them.

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    1. True. I see Air Asia X as another potential arrival to this region.

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  22. We will see who gets to them first.

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  23. Can someone tell me which airlines are used most to reach Japan from LJU, ZAG and BEG?

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    1. From LJU Finnair, Turkish and Lufhansa. Others I wouldn't know.

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    2. And I assume Aeroflot soon from Ljubljabna

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    3. In Europe, I would say LH - they have much more flights to Japan.
      Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo.

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  24. That's a hell of a framing "This strategy is aligned with Japan’s current social crisis, where more than 30% of the Japanese population is 65 or older." Describing Japan as in crisis while watching from the Balkans, ...

    Isn't it much more astonishing that life expectancy over here is still so shockingly low; that most social indicators here are still much closer to those of Russia than to those of say "poor" Greece?

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    1. Ti zamisljas da su vegetirajuci stanovnici posle 70 godine premija za jednu zemlju? Italija je imala reformu penzija gde su prepolovljene kada im je zivotni vek skocio za 10 godina.

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  25. I generally disprove of this attitude of 'waiting someone to do something for you'. If Serbia, Croatia or any other country see this as their clear strategic benefit, they should put their act together and launch those flights themselves.

    I'd again reiterate that most probably the far Asian markets (PEK, PVG, HKG, ICN, KIX...) had more chance to succeed for Air Serbia than New York which will again see sitting the A330 for most of the winter.

    That's inexcusable.

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    1. +100000

      JU can easily do charter flights to Japan with the A330. This winter the Airbus will be used only 2 days per week :(
      Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki, Fukuoka. The possibilites are endless.

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  26. Ex-YU countries are not East Europe.

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    1. No they are western europe. Lol. The entire world considers it east europe. Deal with it.

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    2. Ex-Yu is South-Eastern Europe! WTF is wrong with these people? Until when they will call it Eastern Europe? I'm really getting pissed with this.

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    3. You're getting pissed with your mind. Learn geography and geo-politics.

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    4. Well, Croatia is more western Europe, Slovenija is central.
      Even the Hungarians hate the Eastern Europe termin, why? I personally find it correct and a fact!

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    5. Croatia is western, Slovenia is central, how is possible? Slovenia is more western than Croatia. Croatia is southeastern

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    6. Complexes makes wonders.

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    7. the whole of Croatia is next to Italy and Italy is Western Europeso this makes Croatia technically and religiously western.

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    8. Croatia is southern or south-eastern Europe, same goes for Slovenia. Southern Europe is most common term, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania are all part of Southern European region, with France being also part of western Europe and Slovenia part of Central Europe, this is geographic definition.

      Geo-politically, entire region is considered eastern Europe, Hungary, Czech R, Slovakia, Estonia, Slovenia... all are part of Eastern Europe, despite all these being members of the EU, NATO and other western organizations....

      Political and socio-economic alignment, Croatia like much of the EU is part of the western civilization and western culture. The conflict might arise from this terminology, where Croatia is a western country but not geographically west European country. Being in Central, Southern or Eastern Europe doesn't really matter these days, since it refers to mostly ex-communist nations that are now part of western socio-economic and political trends. However it makes distinctions for some, outside Europe to define emerging markets in Europe, that offer new opportunities.

      Example, Russia is rarely classed as Eastern Europe, it is simply referred to as Russia or ex-Soviet Union. Even Ukraine is labeled as ex-soviet state or former.... Georgia, Armenia... Are all central Asian countries and never referred as Eastern Europe.

      Hope these distinctions make things bit more clear.


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    9. LOL +1. Croatia is westeren and Slo is Centreal? Let me tell the story ;) :"Croatia is by mentality 100% pure Balkan. Kiss me and say capici ;)-

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  27. Interesting, best of luck to all.

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  28. The airline plans to stimulate the overseas market and bring people into Japan.

    Did anyone read the last sentence before raging about number of Japanese tourists in their little neck of the woods?

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    1. As if someone is left in Eastern Europe, everyone went to Germany and London. They can try importing UkrainianS instead. Kyiv or Belgrade can work out.

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  29. What is the source of this so-called interest from JAL's low cost airline? This seems like invented story. There's a long list of other markets for them to serve other then ex-YU. Culturally I don't see a good fit between Japanese and the Balkans at all.

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    1. The article says they are interested in Eastern Europe, not ex-Yu and then says that ex-Yu is interested in flights to Japan.

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    2. The last time an airline said ot was interested in adding routes in Eastern Europe it announced Philadelphia - Dubrovnik :)

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    3. I thought Dubrovnik was Western Europe.

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    4. When it comes to infrastructure and airport managament it is indeed western. It is seem by many Asians as western.

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