Air Arabia eyes Belgrade success despite competition


The Sharjah-based low cost carrier Air Arabia says it is optimistic over its new four weekly service to Belgrade, set to launch on June 28, despite significant competition from nearby domestic rivals Etihad Airways and Flydubai, which have been present on the Serbian market for several years. The airline said that the number of Emirati citizens visiting Serbia in 2018 grew by almost 15%, with the trend set to continue into 2019, as UAE passport holders no longer require visas to enter the country. "We will leverage these emerging travel trends and deliver even more value to customers through affordable and quality experience. Evidence suggests that low cost carriers increase the overall size of the market by encouraging people who have not previously flown to take to the air and by allowing existing customers to fly more often", the company said.

Serbia - UAE weekly one-way seat capacity, peak summer 2019

AirlineWeekly seat capacity
Etihad Airways1.904
Flydubai1.162
Air Arabia672

Although conceding there will be competition on the route, Air Arabia believes the market will be large enough to sustain a third player. "We will meet the needs of thousands of people travelling between Serbia and the UAE as well as the wider region. For Serbian passengers who want to go to other cities such as Dubai or Al Ain, we have buses to transfer them from Sharjah", the carrier noted. It added that a final decision on whether the route will run throughout the year or seasonally will be made based on its performance this summer. Air Arabia introduced twelve new routes in 2018 and 21 new points to its network the year before. It has recently focused on expanding its European reach from Sharjah by adding services to Prague last month.

One of the UAE's oldest and largest tour operators, Galadari International Travel Services Group, noted that UAE travellers always crave new destinations to explore. "Countries such as Georgia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Thailand are the latest popular destinations for UAE residents, where the visa hassle is limited and where tours are within their budget", it said in its 2019 forecast for the country's tourism industry.

Air Arabia's Group CEO, Adel Al Ali, said, “We are glad to add the capital and largest city in Serbia, Belgrade, to our growing tourist hotspots with direct flights from Sharjah. The new Sharjah to Belgrade service offers our customers a unique opportunity to discover a colorful and historic city situated on the main route that connects Europe and Asia while it reflects Air Arabia’s commitment to continuously offer our customers affordable and value driven air travel”. During the peak summer travel period this year, a total of 3.738 seats will be on offer each way between Serbia and the United Arab Emirates.

Comments

  1. I hope they make it in the end. It's always nice when there is more diversity at an airport. It also helps EY and AUH are on the other side of Dubai so they are not direct competition. FZ is the most affected here.

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  2. Wow 3,738 seats is a huge amount of capacity. In my opinion it is way too much but let's see. Hopefully they will succeed.

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    Replies
    1. FZ and EY are mostly full so I guess they are betting on that.

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  3. So they are relying on local demand from the UAE for these flights?

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  4. This will show almost no affect on FZ and probably they will soon stop operations like they did in PRN where they even had no competitor. See SJJ as example they started boombastic and finished on seasonal flight where FZ is year round with LF over 90%. Major problem is SHJ base and very bad organization of the company compared to FZ + much worst product than FZ/EY/QR. I expect them to operate maximum end of S19

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    Replies
    1. They fly to Sarajevo to this day.

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    2. Are you seriously comparing BEG and PRN?!

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    3. I am not comparing BEG-PRN at all as this is incomparable I am just saying how bad they are organized. In 2012 they wanted to start BEG and after that changed their mind and started PRN instead and stoped after 1 month. To SJJ they fly seasonal and at first started year round without success. Here si example for what I said above: https://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/04/air-arabia-temporarily-suspends-sarajevo.html

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    4. Air Arabia transports a lot of groups to Sarajevo as in groups from tour operators. Judging by their statements about UAE demand for these flights, my guess is they will be doing the same for BEG.

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    5. Anonymous at 09:14 The "problem" is that Arabs are visiting Pristina and Bosnia as groups for religious purposes. Where is Serbia would they go? They are not really interested in Skiing, monasteries and such things.

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    6. I don't think any of the Arab tourists (Saudis included) are visiting Sarajevo for religious purposes. Quite the contrary. They are exactly visiting for the nature and skiing. As for Pristina, I don't think anyone visited. That's why the flight lasted as long as they did.

      The text quotes: "Countries such as Georgia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Thailand are the latest popular destinations for UAE residents, where the visa hassle is limited and where tours are within their budget".

      Somehow I doubt Georgia and Ukraine are being visited for religious purposes either.

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    7. Excuse me but why would they visit Pristina for religious purposes? Especially the Saudis who have all the Muslim pilmgrimage sites in their own backyard. All these Arabs travel around the world to drink, have fun and go shopping, same as in Sarajevo. They are packing all the shops and malls from what I heard.

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    8. Exactly last anon. These people are traveling to escape the daily restrictions of religion while feeling comfortable enough in a safe environment.

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  5. Their prices are still too high to be considered a viable LOW COST option.

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    Replies
    1. They are just a bit over 400 euros. For an almost 6 hour flight, I don't think it's that much.

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    2. Well in that same period Wizz Air from Budapest to Dubai is 260 euros.

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    3. Wizz Air flies to Dubai World Airport which is further away from Dubai then Sharjah!

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    4. I completely agree with anon 9:07.
      FZ is still the much better option as it acts as a EK replacement.

      By the way, FZ have launched their winter timetable 2019 already with the flight leaving BEG at 13:00.
      ZAG also is launched as daily
      SKP 2 weekly
      SJJ 3 weekly

      G9 need to stick to the late evening departure from BEG during winter 2019!

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    5. Is SKP 2 or 3 weekly this winter?

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    6. It is 3 this winter too.

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    7. So SKP is being reduced by one weekly flight next winter?

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    8. Seems like it. QR competition I guess.

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    9. We should give Air Arabia some time to position themselves on Serbian market and then to judge

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    10. Just because an airline positions itself as low cost, doesn't mean it is low fare - they are totally different concepts

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    11. Low cost = I am going to charge the passengers everything possible as I am not legacy carrier
      Not low fare = I am going to keep legacy carrier prices although I charge luggage, meal, drinks, deat reservation etc.

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  6. Etihad is killing it on this route. No wonder they offer the most capacity.

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    Replies
    1. They could substitute these with one daily widebody flights.

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    2. It works much better for them to have two flights and collect people in Abu Dhabi from two different arrival waves.

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    3. And less risk and costs which are associated with a widebody.

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    4. @ anonymous 9,46am

      The only logic I see EY having the extra flight would be if EY had in AUH a departure bank ex AUH that could rotate EY71 out of BEG by 8am allowing EY to have connecting pax from all JU destinations ie EY72 taking JU European and JFK pax, EY70 taking JU regional and JFK pax. Seeing as that is not the case, the arrivals into AUH is separated by 10 minutes (meaning the 2 flights connect in the same bank), as well as the capacity is almost the same as the A332 (difference in 10 J seats), might as well just upgauge the route. With the increasing competition, it would be a good way to offer a better product to fight of competition.

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    5. They need the second daily flight because of AUH, not BEG point of departure.

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  7. We need flights to Ras Al Khaimah! I we need 'em bad, we need 'em now!

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    Replies
    1. Fujairah too :D lol

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    2. RKT seems nice on photos, tbh. It´s also cheaper and more authentic.
      DXB is just all too much, tbh. It´s all about expensive cars and artificial stuff. Snow in the desert, hello??

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    3. It is true. In a lot of these lesser known Emirates you can stay in 5 star hotels for half the price of Dubai while the sea and beaches are just as nice.

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    4. Much cheaper accomodation is true. And actually beaches are much nicer, air much less polluted and everything is slower, smoother and friendlier. Been to both Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah and guarantee it.

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  8. They better have a really good advertising campaign in BEG if they want to attract people to fly with them.

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    Replies
    1. Almost all media reported they are starting flights.

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  9. So we now have all of the UAE carriers flying to BEG?

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  10. The launching of flights by Air Arabia just makes more difficult the launching of flights by EK.

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    Replies
    1. The market can't support a daily 777-300ER and all the business class seats it has.

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    2. Don't forget in that case FZ would not be flying to BEG anymore

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    3. I'd much have EK than FZ. The transfer options and the kind of tourists it would bring from Asia and Oceania is much better than FZ's.
      And no, the code-sharing between the two in DXB is nowhere near the same experience as using EK aircraft from start to finish of your journey.

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    4. FZ from BEG uses the EK terminal in DXB if I am not mistaken.

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    5. ^^^

      The EK B77L isn't premium heavy like the rest of their fleet as they are in the process of being reconfigured to a 2 class configuration, with a reduced business class capacity (38 seats vs previously 42). This configuration was sent to ZAG the past summer on numerous occasions.


      ZAG could be a test to see how successful the EK summer/FZ winter combination would work out. FZ crew will undergo a training to familiarize themselves with the EK service, while both airlines have been ever increasing their co-operation ie joining of the frequent flier programs, select FZ departures from DXB T3 etc. The way things seem to be going, I wouldn't be surprised to see FZ 'jump' in on EK flights when the demand is lower.


      @ anonymous 11,28am


      that's correct. Certain FZ destinations (BEG and ZAG for example) use T3. FZ have dedicated check in desks in T3, as well as a dedicated ticketing desk, while the departures are from Concourse C.

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  11. Does Air Arabia allow you to buy connecting tickets?

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  12. Good luck to them. They will need it.

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  13. Really useless flights. With daily flydubai at more or less the same price, who needs these?

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    Replies
    1. I don't know why you are so negative.

      It costs Belgrade and Serbia nothing to have flights with Air Arabia, actually we could only gain.

      After all, they have fleet of more than 50 planes (lalmost like all ey Yu carriers together) and fly to more than 110 destinations.

      Yes, they cancelled PRN and TZL but it does not mean they will not be successful in Belgrade especiallly taking in consideration that the preparations for arrival to BEG took more than 1 year!

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  14. Why do Serbs still need a bloody visa to visit UAE? They have been lifted to so many Eastern European countries. What is the government waiting for?
    I think G9 must consider offering electronic visas such as India for instance.

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    Replies
    1. They are in the process of being lifted. UAE council needs to confirm it. Agreement has already been signed.

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    2. Good riddance, fingers crossed.
      If this happens, there will be more and more flights to UAE.

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  15. It should not be forgotten that visa regime for Serbian tourists travelling to UAE will be lifted soon and it will certainly help more passengers to fly from BEG to SHJ, DXB and AUH

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    Replies
    1. It would be interesting to see if the recent lifting of visas by Qatar has increased travel from Belgrade to Doha.

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    2. Dubai is much more famous then Doha in terms of tourism.

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    3. Croats does not need visa for UEA, so procedure on police control is simple, fast and they are very friendly. If they will left visa for Serbian citizens, that will be good blow to increase capacity. I am so surprised that they still have visas for Serbia as Etihad has huge part of shares in Air Serbia.

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    4. http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/story/9/politika/3264511/dacic-uae-najznacajniji-partner-srbije-u-regionu-zaliva.html

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    5. So if that is true, how comes that Serbia sill have visas for UAE.

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    6. Their Parliament needs to appprove it

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  16. UAE will be quite high when it comes to connectivity from BEG. Naturally Germany is number one with 74 weekly frequencies on Air Serbia, Lufthansa, Wizz Air and easyJet.

    I am still waiting to see if Red Wings resumes Belgrade in summer 2019.

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    Replies
    1. Red Wings is flying to Belgrade as we speak. They fly yearround. An image of Belgrade is even on the main cover of their website.

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    2. I was sure Belgrade has more flights to Germany. Zagreb has 90 weekly flights by Lufthansa, Croatia and Eurowings. From other Croatian airports there is 217 weekly flights to Germany, all together more than 300 weekly flights to Germany from Croatia.

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    3. ^ What does that have to do with Air Arabia's flights to Brelgrade?

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    4. Yes and how many flights does Croatia have to Germany in winter? Most of the flights you mentioned are not there to suit local people but rather German holidaymakers who are coming to get sunburnt and drunk on the Croatian coast.

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    5. 87 from Zagreb and 34 from other parts of Croatia in winter. Together 121 weekly flights to Germany.

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    6. But why should we care? No one even mentioned Croatia.

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    7. Only in the Balkans would someone be proud of having 87 weekly flights to Germany because it comes at the expense of not having year-round flights to Stockholm, Oslo, Milan, Prague... Good for you.

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    8. Don't forget about the Balkan prestige per country. This is obviously very important for the image. Similar to the frequency increases and bigger jets.
      Bigger airlines = more prestige
      More traffic = excellent image

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  17. With this Gulf invasion, I am very sure that the next destination to be negotiated with Vinci will be MCT. WY is so so cool and their business class is omgggg.
    Nice beaches in Oman and stunning livery.

    In the next years we might see connections from BEG to:

    - DXB - possible arrival of EK
    - AUH - possible upgrade from 320 to 330 (visa lift)
    - SHJ - daily (only evening departures)
    - DOH - 2 daily
    - IKA - 5 weekly (flights resuming after sanctions)
    - MCT - 3-4 weekly
    - RKT - charters operated by Aviolet
    - KWI - 2 weekly

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    Replies
    1. I think you are being way over optimistic with your prediction.

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    2. ^^ I'm not saying that it will happen but remember that this time 5 years ago there were only 4 weekly Fly Dubai flights between Dubai and Belgrade (those just launched) and that was it as far as Gulf connectivity was concerned. Then came Qatar Airways, then Etihad, now Air Arabia.

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    3. That's true. The landscape and amount of flights has really changed in the last couple of years.

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    4. RKT is too far for B733 Aviolet.

      It is still very open question if they are going to find some new planes for Aviolet but with current fleet they will not be flying to RKT as they need to land to Cyprus or Lebanon to re-fuel.

      It was done so many years ago when Jat Airways was flying to DXB, but I do not think they would do it now for any charter flight.

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    5. @ 10.11

      There also would have been Cham Wings from Damascus if they were issued rights to fly and all those Iranian carriers.

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    6. What about Royal Jordanian? Is there any demand/interest for flights to/from Belgrade?

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    7. RJ subsidiary Royal Wings used to fly between Amman and Belgrade during peak summer a couple of years ago.

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    8. Although it would be nice to see Cham Wings in BEG this time I must say I agree with Directorate ( I thought I would never say that!) which did not issue them permission to fly to Belgrade.
      You can't expect much from the country destroyed by war where you have no diaspora or business ties. Problems only.

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    9. Aha, thanks Anon 10:19.
      It´s true that the 733 range does not allow it to make BEG-RKT. Besides I don´t think JU will give away its A320, which can obviously do it, to a route like this. A320 is used on its busier and more profitable routes: SVO, ZRH, etc.

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    10. Royal Wings ... wow I forgot they used to fly to BEG, that was like 2007 or 2008? Btw RJ is shutting them down, they won't be operating any more.

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  18. I'm really surprised there are no promo fares for these flights yet.

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    Replies
    1. They are overconfident if they think they will attract passengers as an LCC at these prices.

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  19. Is there an estimate how many Serbian people live in the UAE?

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Officially it is 15,000-20,000.

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    2. And unfortunately, the number will just keep growing.

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    3. Great, thanks for the info!

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    4. @Anonymous 10 January 2019 at 10:30
      I assume mainly girls :)

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  20. My guess is that Etihad has the most passengers out of the three.

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    Replies
    1. Obviously if they will fly 2 daily in summer. But then again they have the most comprehensive presence on Serbian market thanks to Air Serbia. I have flown Etihad many times between AUH-BEG and you would be surprised how many transfers are there on these flights to western Europe.

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  21. Would it have been better if Air Arabia launched SHJ-INI?

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    Replies
    1. No, SHJ-OSI would be the best

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    2. I doubt there is significant demand from Nis to the Middle East. The demand in Nis is for gasto flights.

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    3. What about the Egypt charters, is that gasto too?
      Always BEG never INI.
      Sounds like a broken disc. So repetitive.

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    4. It's Air Arabia and other airlines that chose BEG over INI. Not me.

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    5. Actually u mentioning INI in every single story sounds like a broken disc

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  22. Great news. Good luck to G9. I'm glad they are ready to compete.

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  23. What would you experts recommend for us ordinary mortals: which Y product is best on narrow body - Etihad, Flydubai or Air Arabia?

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    Replies
    1. Etihad. It has the most comfortable seats. Flydubai is on a brand new plane but with extremely slim seats and everything has to be paid extra. Air Arabia is in the process of installing the same slim seats and everything extra has to be paid as well.

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    2. Qatar Airways would be the best option if your travel isn't restricted to the UAE.

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    3. Thanks :) Yes anon 11.16 it has to be the UAE but I'm not limited to which city I go to.

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    4. Flying 5 hours on a narrow body isn't the best experience.
      Like BTS-DXB..crazy.

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    5. What about Katowice-Dubai on Wizz Air? That's even worse.

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    6. Or airBaltic's RIX-AUH... no thanks.

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    7. I suppose EY is also the most expensive, isn't it?

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    8. Don't know about summer but I looked at February and Etihad is EUR490 while Flydubai is EUR344. But do remember Etihad is a full service airline.

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    9. As far as narrow body goes, QR is the way to go (if/when embargo ends) - their Y seats are very similar to those installed in wide body aircraft, with better recline and nice AVOD. EY is okay, but anything other than a LF of 100% on EY72 is a surprise. I would always take an empty seat next to me instead of a packed flight with better seats.

      My pain with QR is that they advertised lie flat pods in their A320s to BEG in C, but in reality, one in 15 or 20 QR232s is actually equipped with those - instead, it's old recliners.

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  24. Overall, BEG seems to have a good balance of both eastern and western airlines. Keep up the good work.

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  25. Still no figures for BEG in December 2018???

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    Replies
    1. No because the figures are no longer published by Belgrade Airport. They are from now on published by Vinci. They published 2017 results for their airports around 20th January 2018, so you will just have to be patient. Growth in December was stable anyway.

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    2. Doyou know if they are going to publish monthly results in the future as Belgrade Airport was doing it in the past?

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    3. Seems like they won't unfortunately. As far as I can see, they publish them quarterly with exception when some record is reached.

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    4. Thank you.
      However, it is sad.

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    5. Monthly reports were available until Dec. Assuming zero growth in Dec, BEG in 2018 will still beat all time records for passengers with over 5.6m, operations with over 60k and cargo with over 20k. Announced increases mean 2019 will continue that growth. Quarterly reports should do just fine.

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    6. Maybe they should do just fine for you but I want them to publish monthly numbers like ALL airports in the world do.

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    7. Lets see in which position BEG will end up this year:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_busiest_airports_in_Europe#2018_statistics

      KRK and KBP have amazing results!

      NCL and RHO will be the new BEG competitors :D

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  26. Is there any possibility flydubai may increase capacity by using the 737MAX9 to BEG insted of the MAX8?

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    Replies
    1. It's not that many extra seats. Ten.

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  27. On 17.01 Serbia will be signing a free trade agreement with Eurasian Union. This should boost ties with Russia, Belarus and other central Asian republics. Maybe we will finally see Astana in Belgrade? Would be pretty cool really.

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  28. They are about to take delivery of their first A321neo. Looks stunning in their new livery, maybe we get to see it in Belgrade at some point in time and space.

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