Serbia seeks to reinstate Beijing flights


The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, has discussed the resumption of flights between Beijing and Belgrade with Chinese officials. Following talks with Li Bin, one of the vice-chairpersons of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, both sides concluded air services between the two countries would cater for the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia. The Serbian Ministry for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure noted, “There are valid reasons for the resumption of these flights, considering the existing economic cooperation between the two countries and an increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia”. Hainan Airlines abruptly suspended its two weekly service between Beijing and Belgrade via Prague in 2018 following a year of operations.

The transport ministry noted it is up to the airlines themselves to decide whether it is viable to resume services between the Serbian and Chinese capitals. “The introduction of flights between any two cities is always a matter of the carrier’s commercial interest”, the ministry said. Asked whether potential flights between the two countries could be granted state incentives, the ministry added, “There has never been any request made to the Serbian government to subsidise flights from China”. Currently, Belgrade is the eleventh busiest unserved route from Shanghai and the seventh busiest European market lacking flights to China's most populous city.

Despite the suspension of flights between Beijing and Belgrade, the number of Chinese arrivals to Serbia has not been dented and continues to grow at a record pace. During the January – July period, a total of 73.559 Chinese travellers visited Serbia, representing an increase of 38.6%. According to a report by OAG, a world leading travel data provider, Serbia saw the third-largest growth in Chinese arrivals in Europe so far this year, behind only Switzerland and Belgium. China is now the world's largest outbound market in terms of travellers and expenditure. Air China noted that the introduction of nonstop flights to European markets has had a positive impact on the number of Chinese visitors to the continent. "Air China opened nonstop flights between Beijing and Athens on September 30, 2017, and after one year the number of Chinese tourists through the air route visiting Greece has increased threefold", the carrier said.




Comments

  1. What I find very interesting is that there is no mention of JU operating flights to China whatsoever.

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    1. If I remember correctly last year Vucic said Air Serbia isn't in the position to operate this route.

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    2. Because JU probably told him not to get any ideas.

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    3. Thank goodness.

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    4. Why not? Why not launch another longhaul route to both feed the regional network and enhance its profitability?
      Isn't that what is happening with the JFK route?

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    5. Maybe they can't operate flight to China because of Etihad?

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    6. There is no more money for such expensive and risky experiments.

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    7. @11.00 doubt it has anything to do with Etihad. From what I heard Etihad encouraged them last year to launch flights to Beijing but JU turned it down.

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  2. Hainan Airlines has cancelled several European destinations over past year. Latest is Dublin route which is being discontinued just after a year.

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    1. They are also axing Tel Aviv in October after a year.

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    2. The airline has a lot of financial problems. They are also suspending US routes, not just European ones.

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    3. Well at least it's good to read that the route was not subsidised.

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    4. Unlike what some claimed here.

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    5. The route was subsidised by Chinese local government, the same as many other routes of Hainan. This is why Hainan cancels these routes after a year when subsidies expire.

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  3. Letovi mogu biti uspesni jedino ako budu non-stop i kodirani sa ErSrbijom

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  4. What this shows is that Hainan didn't actually have many passengers at all, which is no surprise as there was minimal marketing and the flights had a stop in Prague.

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    1. HU flights were useless with stop in Prague.

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    2. That Prague stop made no sense whatsoever.

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    3. The Prague stop was great for people who only flew Belgrade-Prague-Belgrade. Good timing, fantastic price, and the A330 for such a short hop :) It beat Air Serbia both on price and equipment (ATR72).

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    4. It also forced JU to reduce prices on that route and introduce A319s on select days.

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    6. If they made any money on those flights, it was because of Chinese tourists coming to Prague. Whenever I took the flight, there were max. 50 people on board on the Prague - Belgrade flight.

      It was a great experience though, as passengers got to fly on a nearly empty A330 for approx. 30 EUR less than with Air Serbia.

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  5. Wow, with that growth rate in Chinese arrivals almost every city in Europe should be connected to China by direct flights.

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    1. Many are getting connected, even to secondary Chinese cities.

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  6. Why doesn't Air Serbia try out a few charters to China in winter when they have the A330 available?

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    1. Who would fly on charters to China in the middle of winter?

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    2. Chinese would.

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    3. Chinese would?

      There were 5.834 (+21%) Chinese tourists in Serbia this past February. Turkish arrivals fell due to the crisis there but they are growing once again, 10% in July. Air Serbia isn't carrying either one of these two tourists groups.

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    4. Etihad is retiring its last A330. Most of the ones they retired are stored in Spain. At least one could be given to Air Serbia.

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    5. I might be wrong but I think they are not the same engines. EY is storing their A350s, maybe JU could get two of those to replace the A330. :D

      (joke)

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    6. Even if they got the aircraft for free, Air Serbia would still have to pay for its usage and that is not cheap.

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    7. Etihad doesn't give Air Serbia anything for free and they wouldn't just give them an A330 free of charge either.

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    8. Etihad has retired A330-300, they still have 330-200 in fleet (JU is using that type)

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    9. EY would lease an A330 or more than one to JU for a price way above current market rates.
      Just like it did with YU-ARA.

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    10. EY did not lease YU-ARA to JU, get your facts straight before posting nonsense.

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    11. Anonymous at 11:13 EY is the owner of YU-ARA.
      It is EY who leased it to JU and it is EY who is getting the massive lease rate every month.
      So go ask for new instructions from the boss before posting again.

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    12. NONSENSE! YU-ARA was delivered to Jet Airways back in 2007 and is owned by a leasing company. It's not owned by Etihad, it doesn't even have the same engines like the rest of the Etihad A330. Jesus so much hate on here when it comes to JU.

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    13. LOL!
      Which leasing company would that be Anon 12:24???
      Why is EY getting the money every month instead of the leasing company you speak off?
      And why it isn't reported in JU's annual financial statements?

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    14. Give proof or you are just another hater Anon 12.38

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  7. Next year there will be between 350.000 and 450.000 Chinese tourists. The market is growing and maturing quite nicely. When Hainan flew there were around 120.000 Chinese tourists.

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    1. Actually even less while Hainan was flying.

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    2. Especially after Basketball world cup, everyone in China heard about Serbia

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    3. In the game Serbia Italy the whole arena filled with Chinese was cheering for Serbia. They even booed them during Italian free throws :D

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    4. You're anticipating extra 200k-300k Chinese tourists next year?

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  8. Again with this forcing of Beijing. Shanghai makes much more sense from BEG.

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    1. Once again, lack of Air Serbia long haul expansion is a problem. Normal airline would recognize growing trend and add a destination, but Air Serbia doesn't so president has to beg the other side. Management at Air Serbia is either blind or just incompetent.

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    2. Ili im Etihad neda da se sire na istok?

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    3. Етихад им не брани.

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  9. With those numbers they could comfortably fill a plane from China to BEG each day.

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    1. I think it's wiser to get a Chinese carrier to operate the route because of the feed from regional Chinese cities.

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    2. That and it would also offer good transfer options within far east Asia.

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  10. If Air Serbia were smart it would have started flights to China. At the moment, Aeroflot and Turkish are taking the cake.

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    1. Qatar too! They added three extra flights this summer.

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    2. BEG has a great opportunity to become the entry point for Chinese tourists visiting Europe. On top of that Belgrade is developing rapidly and is becoming much nicer with many exciting events taking place throughout the year.

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    3. With what aircraft and money would they have started China?

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    4. The government should give them the money to get the aircraft. Serbia would earn so much from those tourists.

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    5. They could always lease another A330.

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    6. Exactly, start Toronto and Beijing with another A330. Toronto was talked about last year, bilateral was updated and now - nothing! Why is Vinci accepting this passive behavior by Air Serbia?

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    7. People like "ZAG and its prestige" or "BEG entry point for Chinese visiting Europe" always make my day. LOL!!! @An.09.26, have you ever been outside of Serbia? Do you know how many dozens of millions Chinese visit Europe every year? Do you know some airports in Europe have flights to more than 10 airports in China and 10 or 20 flights per day? And we should forget about it all and make BEG "entry point for Chinese"? I mean are you for real? Exactly the same mental state as "ZAG prestige" which brought us where we are. Unfortunately.

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    8. Are you aware that Serbia is the third fastest growing market for the Chinese? Didn't you read the text or the statistics? Or is it more important for you to write hateful comments on here?

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    9. When you have around 100k tourists a year, it is not that hard to be 3rd fastest growing market. Calm down.

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  11. I think we will see Air Serbia expand long haul next year. This year's expansion was the introduction for that, which is what they even said.

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    1. Not really, very few flights that were added this year make sense for longhaul expansion. Take KRR as an example. It connects perfectly going to New York but not in the opposite direction. They would need a KRR departure either in the morning or around noon to make connections work in both directions.

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    2. I don't see any new route that was introduced this year that would provide feed on flights to China. Maybe only Cairo.

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    3. Why just look at this year's new routes? If you see AirSerbia's overall coverage of Europe, which is pretty damn good, as insufficient to fill flights to China, then there is some sort of a problem.

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    4. Split schedule is the problem, until they have double daily flights to key destinations in the region long-haul flights will be a problem.

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  12. Isn't Mahan transferring Chinese tourists to BEG via Tehran? :D

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    1. That was their plan but they haven't been successful at it. They are mostly transporting Iranians who have one week tour packages to visit Serbia. And even that is not in great numbers.

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  13. It's interesting to note that the Chinese are now number 1 tourists in Serbia and number 2 in terms of overnight stays.

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    1. Who would have thought just a few years ago.

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    2. The numbers will keep on growing.

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  14. Good luck. Hope the flights resume.

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  15. Does Air Serbia still have that silly codeshare to Beijing with Air China via Vienna?

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    1. Yes it does, as JU7627/8.

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    2. I wonder if they sell a single ticket on this codeshare. It's not convenient at all.

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    3. Isn't the layover time in Vienna very long and inconvenient for passengers?

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    4. @10.08 you would be surprised.

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    5. I think price is the biggest problem for the JU-CA deal via VIE.

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    6. Couldn't they have found a better codeshare partner?

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    7. And wouldn't it have been better to codeshare on Air China's flight from Athens?

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    8. No more JU / SU codeshare on flights between Beg and SVO. Is the reason Chinese pax transfers on SU via SVO ?

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    9. ^That's not true at all. SU and JU codeshare on each others' lights between Belgrade and Moscow

      SU 2097 - codeshare by Air Serbia JU 7483
      JU 654 - codeshare by Aeroflot SU3743

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    10. Anon 11:21 try to purchase a JU ticket online on SU operated flight in November by using JU site. Try the same to get a SU ticket on a JU flight using SU site ... looks like no more code sharing!?

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  16. Outstanding growth in Chinese tourists to Serbia this year! Well done! This is one helluva lucrative market that should be tapped into.

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    1. Currently the only ones tapping into the market are carriers that are neither from China or Serbia.

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    2. Hopefully that will change.

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  17. And Vucic again. This guy is a joke!

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    1. I'm far from being his fan but what's the problem with him discussing flights to China with a Chinese official?

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    2. Agree with above anon. Even the Chinese ambassador to Croatia said that for the launch of an air route it must be discussed at a political level.

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  18. Hainan is a great airline. Shame the route was terminated.

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    1. Yes, definitely still the best airline in China.

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  19. 'The introduction of flights between any two cities is always a matter of the carrier’s commercial interest'

    Same goes for any other route (USA-ZAG, YYZ-BEG, etc.). When there is healthy demand, airlines will jump in and open the route!

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    1. So you are saying there is no demand for flights from China to Belgrade?

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    2. So you are saying there is no demand for flights from US to Zagreb?

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    3. So you two are saying that there is demand but companies refuse to fly those routes? Loool

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    4. It depends how much money will be offered from Croatian "udruzeno oglasavanje" fund to US / Chinese carriers.

      Obviously not enough until now.
      Maybe therefore it will be increased double next year

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    5. Pozdrav iz Rijeke, obviously there is demand but not enough to warrant non-stop flights.

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    6. @11:53 this should be the reply to most comments on this blog :)

      "Demand would be huge, but these greedy companies just refuse to make profits!!!!"

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    7. ""Once the demand is there, airlines will start the service"

      Another falacy. Five years ago many suggested there was not enough demand for BEG-JFK or YYZ-ZAG. Toronto-Zagreb started with one weekly service and now it's up to 7 weekly. Demand didn't increase sevenfold, it has shifted from one-stops to direct flight with sufficiend yield.

      All Air Serbia had to do is to get tour operators from China currently using TK, AF or QR to switch to JU at all costs for first year of operations and expected growth would do the rest for yield. Why would boneheads at Air Serbia decline their most promising long haul service?!%&!

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    8. SU-Aeroflot, not AF

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  20. Sitting on the morning QR flight to BEG 2 weeks ago. Full of Chinese.

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    1. Not surprised. Together with Turkish and Etihad they are consistently the cheapest option from/to China.

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  21. Where is VINCI in all of this? Why aren't they doing more to secure China flights if Air Serbia is obviously not interested?

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    1. Who said they aren't?

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    2. Well they really should start getting things moving. Budapest has secured several Chinese routes this year.

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    3. "Several"? Shanghai Airlines started flying from Shanghai and that's it. They also have Air China from Beijing via Minsk.

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    4. Does Air China sell tickets between Minsk and Budapest?

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    5. No, they don't have fifth freedom rights.

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  22. Hope there will be a positive outcome soon.

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  23. Izvestan redovni saobracaj izmedju Srbije i Kine bice kada se izgrade Beograd na Vodi, modernizuje i dogradi Beogradski aerodrom i na kraju zavrse jos pet krakova auto puteva. To je za pet do sedam godina. Od tada ce biti i pocetak nekih letova nisko budzetskih prevozioca sa drugih
    Azijskih destinacija. Verovatno i buduci letoviAustralijske nisko budzene kompanije Jetstar nece biti iskljuceni na ultra long destinacijama za Evropu, i letovi do Srbije.
    Kako god to izgledalo smesno i nerealno, mnogo toga je izgledalo i razvojne promene. A promene u poslovanju i etici odnosa prema turistima i putnicimau Srbiji tek ce uzeti zamaha. Ko ne veruje neka zivi u neverju. Zivot ide dalje.
    Cekam procvat vazdusne luke Nikola Tesla i Aerodroma Srbije. Sa time privatizovanu i uspesnu Er Srbiju.
    U nadi da ce se razvijati i susedi. Bliznji i daljni.
    Planeta je mala. Ali ljudi su veliki ako zele biti.
    U comercijalnom vazduhoplovstvu pogotovu.
    Sledece sedmice ceka let u prolecni Sidnej.
    A blogere na EX YU iskrena i konstruktivna debata.
    Rodney, Kraljevo - Sydney.

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  24. Would be great if we had JU charters to Bejing a day or two before 15th September. If you know what I mean ;)

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  25. Had Air Serbia gotten the neos they could have flown to Beijing with a single stop in Central Asia.

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    1. Yes that would have been very lucrative...

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    2. They don't need neos for that. BEG-PEK is around nine hours, A319 can do it with one stop.

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  26. Shanghai please.

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  27. These flights will eventually happen. All we need is to create a mass of arrivals to make sure there is volume. BEG is developing nicely thanks to JU and even if they don't launch these flights it doesn't matter as other will. BEG has its own course and it's sticking to it which matters the most. Hopefully the expansions of the airport happens soon in order to improve the experience while flying in and out.

    By the way, BEG handled around 760.000 passengers in August compare to SOF's 674.000. This is why airports need a strong airport with a hub model with transfer passengers.

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    1. 10% i vise nego dobro

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    2. Belgrade rocks!

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    3. Does it mean that BEG will have more passingers than SOF this year? <3

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    4. Not this year but the gap will definitely be reduced. In August BEG grew by 10% while SOF by just 2%. Next year BEG will grow even more though not too sure about SOF.

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  28. Opening a route to BEG for a Chinese carrier is much easier: a) the point of sales is almost entirely in China (ie. Chinese tour operators), b) Chinese people are not coming from one city like PEK, but from many different Chinese cities, so you either need direct flights from many Chinese cities or you need transfer capabilities on a Chinese side, c) Chinese are not staying in one place like BEG for their entire vacations, but spend a day or two in BEG and move to other places in Europe - therefore for them possibility to arrive with the same carrier in BEG but leave with this carrier from VIE is greatly appreciated.

    For the latter reason Chinese tourists visiting BEG (whatever is the number) don't care whether they have a direct flight from China to BEG. They may arrive, say, in VIE or FRA, spend there couple of days, move to Slovenia for a couple of days, then Serbia, Croatia and departure home again from VIE or FRA.

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    Replies
    1. Chinese tourists visiting BEG usually come on a tour package to visit Serbia and Bosnia because they don't require visas for these countries. They don't combine the trip with Schengen destinations.

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  29. For this propose a321xlr will be good choice

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  30. China Southern Airlines could fly Urumqi - Belgrade with its 737-800 ...

    They already do so to most capital cities in the former USSR.
    The flights to Urumqi are all connecting further to Beijing and Guangzhou among others.
    When Air Arabia announced flying to Belgrade i considered going with them to Urumqi via Sharjah - What a shame that opportunity never materialized.

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    Replies
    1. And what would be the advantage instead of flying directly to Beijing or Guangzhou?

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    2. A 737-800 is much easier to fill than a widebody -

      Also tourists from many smaller cities and places in China could connect onto this flight via Urumqi even without backtracking.
      Over there they have nearly a hundred cities with more than a million inhabitants and many of them are linked with Urumqi.

      China is much more than just the capital or Guangzhou ...

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  31. Air Serbia was expected to take over BEG-PEK service from Hainan and start Toronto. Ask Air Serbia management why they didn't deliver. List of things expected but screwed up by Air Serbia:

    Nov 2018: 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
    https://www.exyuaviation.com/2018/11/new-carrier-to-take-over-belgrade.html

    Nov 2018: Air Serbia flights to Toronto "in 2019 or 2020". A final decision will be made by Air Serbia
    https://www.exyuaviation.com/2018/11/air-serbia-flights-to-toronto-in-2019.html

    Dec 2018: Air Serbia plans to expand its network during the upcoming 2019 summer season... new destinations will span across three continents - Europe, North America and Asia... VINCI's Nicolas Notebaert: "We will work to help Air Serbia introduce new long haul routes"
    https://www.exyuaviation.com/2018/12/air-serbia-plans-2019-network-expansion.html

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  32. At least enjoy the only long haul service from Belgrade right now. Brand new trip report:

    https://youtu.be/PPfxnQM2aVo

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    Replies
    1. Great presentation for Air Serbia. Now they should scale out long haul operations.

      Delete

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