New carrier to take over Belgrade - Beijing route


Flights between Belgrade and Beijing are set to resume mid next year and are to be operated by another carrier, replacing Hainan Airlines which will run its last service between the two capital cities via Prague today. Although the name of the future operator is yet to be disclosed, Serbian representatives at last week's China International Travel Mart Fair in Shanghai noted that flights will be operated nonstop with similar equipment to that used by Hainan Airlines. The Chinese carrier has been utilising an Airbus A330-300 jet on the route since its launch just over a year ago. According to Serbian representatives, the flights will facilitate the continued growth in business ties, as well as tourism between the two countries. During the first three quarters of the year, 77.543 Chinese nationals visited Serbia, while a total of 134.852 overnight stays were recorded, up 94% on the same period in 2017.

Previously, Air Serbia and Air China had expressed interest in operating flights between the two countries. Last year, the Serbian national carrier said, "China is not only important to the continued expansion of Air Serbia, but is also important to the development of Serbia and the Balkans region. We will reintroduce Belgrade as an affordable and convenient gateway to Europe, and build greater awareness of Air Serbia as the airline of choice to the Balkan Peninsula and Southeastern Europe for Chinese travellers". Air Serbia currently codeshares with Air China on its flights between Vienna and Beijing, as well as Hainan Airlines on its service between Prague and the Chinese capital. Furthermore, Air Serbia also has special prorate agreements (SPA) in place on all of Etihad Airways' flights out of China, as well with China Southern, Xiamen Airlines and Hainan Airlines. Its predecessor, JAT Yugoslav Airlines launched services to Beijing in 1979 and operated its final flight to the city in late 2000.

On the other hand, Air China said last year that flights to Belgrade were "looking very promising". It added, "It all depends on an agreement between the Serbian Prime Minister and our Prime Minister. We hope to spread our wings to Belgrade very soon". Services between the two cities were initially launched from Beijing in 1972 by Air China’s predecessor CAAC and were operated with an Ilyushin Il-62 via Karachi. Later on, the flights were upgraded to a Boeing 707 and ultimately a B767. Flights continued on to Budapest and Zurich, depending on the year of operation. They were discontinued upon the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

Comments

  1. Hopefully no Air Serbia :D

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    1. I think 2 times per week BEG-PEK nonstop with good connections to Sarajevo, Skopje, Podgorica could work. The longer they wait to introduce these flights, the more difficult it will be. With flights probably starting from PEK to ZAG next year, LOT expanding in Asia, Chinese carriers starting more and more Eastern European routes, the chances to establish themsleves on the market are getting slimmer and slimmer.

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    2. Starting PEK even if it is only two times a week means than JFK will no longer be 5W during the summer.
      Also no flights to Canada whatsoever.

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    3. JFK was 6 weekly this summer, not 5, and they won't start second long haul route until they get a second long haul plane.

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    4. A second long haul plane will be an even bigger financial black hole than the first...

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    5. Well wait and see how they get it. Patience.

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    6. YU-ARB ? ;) :*
      I hope JU considers the A350, it will look really cool and will further symbolise Serbian pride.

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    7. Yes we will feel even more prestigious while paying for all this political megalomania...

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    8. Give it a break will you.

      FYI aviation is ALL about politics - the right to fly between countries is vested in govts negotiating and agreeing traffic rights - not companies. Logic therefore dictates that some routes will be commercial in nature, while others will be political in nature - just like any investments that are made

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    9. Exactly.
      Profitability of some route is not seen only through the cash it directly brings but also through the benefit it brings to the local economy.

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    10. anon @9.19 - what black hole ? if the Govt will also cover this route as they do with JFK, then there will be no black hole ... nothing to worry abt :)

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  2. Last year when flights between PEK and BEG were being negotiated, the Chinese ambassador said that talks were being held with Hainan, Air China and China Eastern. So my guess is its one of the remaining two.

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    1. China Eastern is starting Budapest next year so I don't think they would start Belgrade as well.

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    2. From Beijing?

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    3. From Shanghai, May 2019.

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    4. Ok but here we are talking about Beijing.

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    5. Well China Eastern does not fly to Europe from Beijing. Only Asia and Australia.

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  3. Replies
    1. I would prefer they focus on USA/Canada and leave this route to one of their Interline partners.

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  4. If the flights are going to be nonstop, that's a great development.

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  5. I still think Shanghai makes much more sense.

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  6. So in conclusion, flights weren't discontinued because of Serbia but because of the internal mess at Hainan.
    Great to see these flights resume, I think it will be one of the Chinese airlines, maybe even Air China.

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  7. There are rumors JU is getting a second A330 very soon. So this is a possible route.

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    1. Does you writing this comment constitute the rumour ??

      Just because people write such a comment on this blog, does not equate to "rumours" ..... they are simply views/opinions posted on this blog - which is very far away from "rumours"

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    2. Anonymous at 14:17
      +1000

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  8. If it's Air China then we can expect Belgrade to be linked with another city.

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    1. Maybe they could link Belgrade with Bucharest.

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  9. What about Shanghai-Belgrade? Is there any chance of that happening?

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    1. No it looks like it will only be PEK and I think that is enough for now.

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  10. I knew this was going to happen and wrote so on 08.11 at 11:48! BEG will keep direct route to China and it is great news for Serbia and its business relations with China.

    Feel so sorry about the people saying "the market is not mature", "not enough business between two countries", "major loss for Belgrade" , "not enough tourists" etc etc

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  11. Air Serbia could actually do well here with good regional connections. Linking this route with Sarajevo and Montenegro would also be good since Chinese don't need visas for Bosnia and now get expedited visas for Montenegro.

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  12. Good news to have more opportunities from Belgrade.
    Bad news if It means another expensive and money loosing operation for JU.

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    1. And why do you think it would be money loosing for JU? You don't know their financial performance on any route to be qualified to make conclusions on what's financially viable and what isn't. Many routes that are initially opened don't make money straight away. They are launched with the estimate that they will turn a profit in a few years and that the money invested in the route will bring returns in the long run.

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  13. Could PEK have more passengers than JFK?

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  14. Ako let pokrece AS to znaci dolazak drugog A330. Moglo bi da funkcionise Toronto 4X i Peking 2X

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    1. Najverovatnije je tako

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    2. A sta ce mo sa Cikagom?

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    3. Nista. Ostace gde jeste

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    4. Polako. Stiže puno prijatnih i pomalo neočekivanih iznenadenja što se JU tiče.

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    5. Realizacija na leto 2019.

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    6. Hvala. To znaci da bi objave trebale da budu sto pre...

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    7. Verovatno za sajam turizma u februaru. Isto kao sto je bio slucaj sa JFK

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  15. An ASL A319 flew to Beijing earlier this year :D

    https://youtu.be/nslijxyyBaw

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    1. What was the routing?

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    2. Belgrade-Astana-Beijing.

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    3. Air China B747 also payed a visit to BEG

      https://youtu.be/gYS3rG7ByeU

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    4. It was Vucic's flight to China

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    5. I'm aware of it now. You can see it in the video.

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  16. I think that the route has potential: chinese workers and business people going to Serbia and the region, chinese tourists visiting Serbia as well as connecting with ASL to the region, serbian tourists going to China, Hong Kong etc. and last but not least I guess there will be some connecting traffic to Australia via China.

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    1. Nobody will go to Hong Kong via Beijing. China is huge, different parts has different connectivity. For example Hong Kong has much matter connectivity via ME3 (AirSerbia code share this with Etihad and it is very good connection). Via Hong Kong you will easy get to Shenzhen or Guangzhou areas.

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  17. China Southern is the best option due to the fact that it is a transfer airline with extremely cheap fares and alright service.

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  18. This would go along with Vinci's statement that they will support Air Serbia's future long haul expansion.

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  19. Get a second A330, launch two weekly to PEK and then add three weekly to Toronto. In winter operate both flights two times per week.

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    1. If it happens JU will have far the most passengers in ex-Yu region

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    2. Also by the largest loses in ex-Yu region.

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    3. It already has the most passengers in ex-Yu region.

      And 10.40 it has the largest profit in the ex-Yu region. Thankfully it doesn't need to sell slots, engines or experience an exodus in staff to reach profitability.

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    4. surely with the gov support it receives year after year

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    5. Cannot be compared to the amount of government support Adria and Croatia Airlines have received and receive to this day.

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    6. check the old articles here and you will see if its comparable or not. i dont want to discuss this. the numbers are here

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    7. It is not comparable. The amount JP and OU have received is significant which is why both had to restructure, so they could be granted so much money. Unfortunately, the restructuring was a farce as both continue to post losses. JP last week got a nice 4.5 million from the government.

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    8. I said FAR the most passengers.

      And the costs are there because JU is the only airline from ex-Yu that flies TATL and it looks like it will remain so for a very long time.

      Some other EU companies in the neighbourhood do not fly TATL and have enormous touristic potential with Adriatic coast, but even these facts are not enough to be successful.

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  20. Will be interesting to see which airline it is. I guess it's a guessing game like last time around when it turned out to be Hainan. The good news is, the route is coming back.

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    1. I think the photo above the article is telling more than the words...

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  21. I think it will be Air Serbia and I think 2019 will finally be the year we see Air Serbia rebound and expand. There are already some signs that the airline is waking up. New commercials, improved economy product with everyone getting snacks, return of full business class menu etc.

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  22. "77.543 Chinese nationals visited Serbia, while a total of 134.852 overnight stays were recorded"

    Something doesn't add up here. This would mean that the Chinese spend less than two nights in Serbia on average, which is ridiculous. One of the numbers is wrong.

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    1. It's correct. They go on tour. So they spend only two days and move to the next country. That's how Chinese travel.

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    2. +1 but i also believe that a good portion (a quarter or maybe more) of the tourists are not being registered to avoid paying taxes. its a phenomenon known also in my country

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  23. Air Serbia should restart it themselves.

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  24. I hope Air China has improved a bit. I flew with them a few years ago and it was one of the worst flight of my life.

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  25. The point is to secure direct PEK-BEG flights, not via PRG or something. And have convenient schedule for transfers to countries in Belgrade vicinity.

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  26. Today was the last Hainan flight from Belgrade, right?

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  27. Air Serbia needs to update the A330 it has no USB in economy, the IFE has a small selection of movies, the seats still have the Indian language on them and they don’t have premium economy.

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    1. Usb in economy is under the seat.

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