Air Serbia to resume Istanbul service in December


Air Serbia will resume flights between Belgrade and Istanbul following a two-and-a-half-year hiatus on December 11, marking the carrier’s return on the Turkish market with scheduled flights. Services will run three times per week, each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with tickets already on sale. A fourth weekly service will run between December 22 and January 5. Operations will be maintained with an Airbus A319 aircraft. The development comes just a day after Turkish carrier AtlasGlobal discontinued all flights due to financial difficulties, including its four weekly service to the Serbian capital. Air Serbia will compete directly against Turkish Airlines’ double daily flights on the route, while low cost carrier Pegasus Airlines continues to run four weekly services from Sabiha Gokcen Airport. After the initial period, the Serbian airline will consider potentially increasing the frequency to seven flights per week from March 29, 2020.

Air Serbia discontinued its flights to Istanbul in March 2017 as a result of poor loads caused by strong competition and falling demand for travel to Turkey. At the time it noted, “The decision was made as a result of declining point-to-point passenger traffic and yield on the route, which has underperformed company expectations, and follows in the footsteps of other airlines that have withdrawn from the Turkish market". Two years ago, the carrier operated daily flights to Turkey’s largest city but often downgraded its equipment on the route to the 66-seat ATR72 turboprop aircraft. In the years since, it has continued to serve the Turkish market through seasonal charter flights.

Commenting on the service resuption, Air Serbia’s General Manager for Commercial and Strategy, Jiri Marek, said,"We are very pleased to be reestablishing the route to Istanbul, a destination our company used to fly to for decades. With a quick response and special airfares, we wanted to help people whose trips became uncertain due to the temporary suspension of operations by AtlasGlobal". Mr Marek noted yesterday, "Along with the new destinations launched this summer, we have new surprises in store, which I am sure will be a step in the right direction and will generate even greater growth for Air Serbia". The Serbian carrier will also launch state subsidised flights from Kraljevo to Vienna next month, after signing a three-year agreement with the Serbian government on Tuesday. The service is expected to be scheduled and put on sale in the coming days. Further flight details for Air Serbia’s Belgrade - Istanbul flights can be found here.




Comments

  1. That escalated quickly.

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  2. Good luck competing against TK.

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    1. Well it's not like TK can do much. Why should they lower their fares when their planes are full as is? The thing is that demand is much greater than the offer. Air Serbia should do ok this time around.

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    2. TK Are also hit by crisis as is AtlasGlobal. They still appear strong thanks to heavy subsidies and unrestricted state aid. But if the crisis in Turkey persists they will be forced to reduce many routes across the world and domestic

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  3. Great news, with the upcoming TK code-share this will be a major success. What's great is that unlike Turkish carriers JU can actually add more flights to meet the growing demand.

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    1. Not sure why you painting the fake picture about growing demand especially when Air Serbia discontinued its flights to Istanbul due to the poor demand back in 2017. Air Serbia is young and unknown Airline not sure who's gonna travel with them to the country like Serbia.

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    2. You only have to look at Turkish arrivals and overnight stays to Serbia to see the growing demand month after month.

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    3. Anon@11:31 You forgot what happened in Turkey in the summer of 2016? JU discontinued flights because of coup that was attempted against Erdogan. That instability caused big drop in the demand from/to Istanbul.

      Regarding the Turkish tourists in Belgrade you just need to take a short walk in the city center and you will see them, so I must assume that you never been in Belgrade. A lot of Turks is coming here because it is close, cheap and they don't need a visa.

      Still, I don't think that JU counts too much on Turkish tourists, they mostly count on Serbian travelers and on connecting travelers from few destinations in their networks that don't have direct flights to IST.

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    4. I actually think JU counts on Turkish tourists because there is no more room on other airlines. KK used to send a mix of A320/321 to BEG so I am sure JU will pick up a lot of those guys.

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    5. This whole story is a quite interesting.

      Don't forget that KK started flying to BEG right after JU abandoned IST and they were quite successful sending regularly A320 and A321. Few months before it JU struggled to fill out ATR72.

      It just proves to me that Turks want to fly with their airline to the foreign countries.

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    6. KK had something what JU doesn't have a network in Turkey and surrounding countries. That was a reason why they where able to fill bigger planes in 2017 when situation in Turkey was still chaotic after attempted coup. I personally think that for JU was better to cooperate with KK on BEG-IST route than to fly that route itself. But, that option is not on the table anymore. Situation now is much better than it was in 2017 and I think JU can succeed on this route. They may struggle during winter season but I expect better result from next summer season.

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  4. They must have excellent fleet utilisation if they can squeeze in 4 weekly flights at such a short notice.

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    1. Thye have 3 Aviolet Boeings sitting on the apron in winter.

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    2. Most regional destinations in winter are on the ATR so finding an A319 should not be a problem.

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  5. This will be something like the 23rd new destination this year.

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    1. Yes. Even we take off the subsidised routes from Nis and Kraljevo it is still 10 new routes out of BEG with no routes dropped. That's impressive.

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  6. This schedule complements TK actually. It's in the afternoon, so it doesn't compete directly.

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  7. The prices are cheap, at least in December. 150 euros return with luggage.

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    1. Even afterwards they aren't much more expensive. Good fares.

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    2. They realized they need volume and they can only get that by charging normal fares.

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  8. Would it not be better to fly to Sabiha? I mean most of the pax will be point to point, with few transfers.

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    1. They already experimented with Sabiha a few years ago and it didn't work out. They were desperate to get back to IST.

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    2. Well they are working on a partnership with TK so makes sense to go to IST.

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  9. Congrats on the quick reaction. I must say they are very fast in responding to things. Same when Adria went belly up.

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  10. Hopefully they can expand the frequency beyond 3 weekly since I think competing with TK for business traffic will be difficult at such a low frequency. But the route is in early stages so it needs a chance to develop. Maybe starting with 3 weekly and developing it is a smart move.

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    1. Actually IST-BEG is more important for JU than BEG-IST. I mean this because their arrivals to IST is too late for business traffic but the return is perfect for those who don't want to leave IST either too early or too late on TK. I agree with you, I hope we get daily flights soon.

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    2. I think it is also important that they develop a good reputation in Turkey because I think the market especially concerning O&D passengers is heavily Turkey POS skewed. That is my one worry for the success of these flights but if fares are low enough to compete I'm sure they won't do too bad

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    3. In the article it says
      "After the initial period, the Serbian airline will consider potentially increasing the frequency to seven flights per week from March 29."

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    4. Well Turks seem to love coming to Serbia so they should be ok with flying on a Serbian airline. They will associate JU with the good times they have over here when they visit.

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  11. So finally an ex-Yu airline is returning to Turkish Airlines land. Good luck!

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    1. It could have been expected form Air Serbia only

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    2. It will be harsh to beat TK on this route, even Luftansa couldn't beat TK in terms of passenger numbers in 2019 (even though TK moved from Atatürk to new Istanbul airport and can't use its 24 737 Max aircrafts).

      But it's worth to try since there is an enormous demand between Istanbul and Belgrade.

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    3. I'm surprised that Montenegro Airlines had never considered introducing flights to IST, before Turkish came.

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    4. Turkish Airlines has unrestricted access to Germany, that's not really the case with Serbia. ;)

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    5. I didn't mean flights between Turkey and Germany. Turkish and Lufthansa together have Sunexpress for those flights.

      What I meant that Turkish is the #1 leading flag carrier in Europe in terms of passenger numbers in 2019. Turkish carried 49.71 million passengers from January to August, meanwhile Luftansa carried 47.92 million passengers. And take into consideration that Turkish moved to Atatürk to new airport, they barely had flights in April. And Turkish have 24 737 Max which they can't fly now, meanwhile Luftansa don't have any Maxs. And since IST doesn't have a metro line to city center now, it will be completed in 2020 summer, many locals prefer to fly from SAW instead of IST. Also the 3rd independent runway will be built in 2020 summer too. IST will become a global hub, will surpass Heathrow and Dubai in 3-4 years.

      It would be such a shame if Air Serbia didn't start to fly to IST while it's just 1 hour and 30 mins away - and when since there is a huge demand between those cities.

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    6. Good reasons for code-share JU/TK

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    7. Anon 11:33

      Blackout period during TK's migration to the new airport was 6 hours, with additional 24 hours of disrupted schedule. Within two days everything was back to normal and April numbers were only slightly affected. The rest of your post is spot on :)

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    8. Anon 12:05,

      No man, they didn't fly to many destinations for a week, cancelled a lot of flights between 5th-20th April and started to fly the regular schedule after April 20th or 21st.

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  12. Air Serbia seems to be quite awake as it is acting quickly to changed market conditions (see JP bankruptcy and now with Atlasglobal). Leaves to me a good impression.

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    1. To me as well- I mean an airline usually plans as to have enough aircraft sit around for these emergencies.

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    2. These are all the positive things from bringing back many departments to Belgrade from Abu Dhabi. Local staff knows what the market conditions are and what needs to be done to remain competitive. JP and KK situations are best proof of that.

      Air Serbia is finally waking up and they are securing their own position in the market. This Turkish situation is the perfect example. Now they get to carry more and more tourists who come to visit lovely Belgrade.

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    3. Profitable airlines tend to maximise their fleet utilisation and count on guaranteed income, not gamble on whether a competitor will go bust or not.

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    4. Say it to Lufthansa. Obviously they are not profitable

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    5. Anon 09.19

      Luckily JU isn't doing that since they launched HEL, KRR, MAD, BCN ... The JP and KK scenarios are showing that JU can actually respond to market dynamics.

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    6. Anon 09:38: Which routes are you referring to?

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    7. Lufthansa didn't have spare capacity. They cancelled Trieste-Frankfurt flights and transferred them to Ljubljana.

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    8. The question is if LH operated FRA-TRS in WITT 2018/2019?

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    9. Exactly. LH had to sacrifice TRS to deploy aircraft to LJU. With a fleet of 300 aircraft.

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    10. LH expanded too fast without making sure they have enough aircraft. They still use BT's C-series. Funny how BT has enough spare aircraft to lease them around Europe and to even fly one around the Pacific Ocean.

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  13. Great to see them back.

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  14. Ako uspostave saradnju sa turistickim agencijama u Turskoj,moze biti uspesna prica.

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    1. Problem je sto turski turisti uglavnom hoce da lete samo sa turskim kompanijama

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    2. Nadam se da su za ove 2 god. kodiranja sa Atlasom ostvarili neke kontakte sa turskim tur operaterima pa da to sad iskoriste.

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    3. Турци јуре најјефтинију карту, баш њих брига са којом компанијом лете, посебно млади који махом говоре енглески. Том логиком не би ни ишли у Србију на одмор него у Коњу или Ерзурум. Уз све то, Србија има одличну репутацију у Турској тако да ће без проблема куповати карту са ЈУ.

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    4. Da, bas ih je briga. Zato se JU povukao iz IST a KK uspesno leteo za BEG.

      Vodeci se tom logikom ne znam sto JU ne krene odmah double daily za IST.

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    5. Јел се ЈУ повукао из Варшаве, Варне, Будимпеште ... из истог разлога? ;) Том логиком нико се турских авио-компаније не би требало да лети тамо.

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    6. Iz potpuno istog razloga

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    7. It is very important for Turks of all ages to fly with a Turkish speaking company. JU should have employed a number of Turkish FA's, call agents, introduced Turkish website...

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  15. I hope it will last this time around. But it also means AtlasGlobal is definitely gone.

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    1. Which airline ceased the operations for 2-3 weeks and then returned?

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  16. Well I guess this was one of the surprises the executive was talking about :)

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    1. There should be a few more :)

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  17. Oh I'd love to see the faces of some of yesterday's commentators :)

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  18. Can they count on any connecting traffic? I assume it will be difficult considering TK's presence in the region.

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    1. I don't think so, even though the times are excellent for connections in both directions.

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    2. * good connection times for regional routes that is.

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    3. This can only work with a proper codeshare with TK in place. Without it they will not be able to penetrate the local market. JU flights MUST show in TK systems as additional flights to Belgrade ('operated by Air Serbia') otherwise the local market won't even be aware of them.

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    4. Have you seen TK fares from IST to Europe? They are not cheap.

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  19. Are these the same times Atlasglobal used to have?

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    1. Actually very similar.
      Atlasglobal had a 12.10 departure from BEG on two days and 17.25 departure on the other two.

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  20. Can anyone remember what were the departure/arrival times when JU used to fly to Istanbul last time?

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    1. I believe they were also afternoon flights. But when they started downgrading to the ATR72 it turned into a disaster because flight time was double the original scheduled flight time.

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    2. That is hardly a disaster.

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    3. It was ~2 hours vs. 1h30. No big deal.

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  21. Congratulations to Air Serbia on the very quick reaction.

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  22. I assume all KK passengers who has tickets with them from December onwards will be rebooked onto Air Serbia.

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  23. The price to IST starts from 99,-EUR with no luggage

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    1. Actually its 99 EUR return including checked luggage. Great price!

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    2. Yes it seems they are not selling tickets without luggage on this route at the moment. Considering how low the checked in luggage tickets are it makes sense.

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  24. What days did Atlasglobal fly from BEG?

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    1. The same as these Air Serbia ones
      Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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  25. I will be very interested to see if Turkish Airlines eventually starts codesharing on these flights.

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  26. JU has to be very careful when launching new routes. KVO, INI, more LJU flights and now IST.
    This means running on a tight fleet and bigger chances of huge delays.
    Same as VY.
    JU has a small fleet and better focusing on more profitable routes instead of tertiary destinations...KRR, KVO, SZG, HHN, etc...

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    1. actually KRR is very profitable. They have lots of transfers after OS suspends KRR flight. They have already upgraded to 3 times per week

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    2. KRR is definitely not a tertiary route and certainly doesn't fit your list. Tertiary would maybe be Zagreb or Rijeka. Krasndar is in Russia what Podgorica is to Belgrade.

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  27. Wow! That's so fast!! Congrats JU!

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  28. I really don't think there was a choice. Had they not started it, Turkish Airlines would have requested additional frequencies or capacity increase. The CAD would have no other option then to issue them permits for those this time around, which would not benefit Air Serbia.

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    1. Which really makes Air Serbia's move all the more impressive. Instead of TK being granted additional capacity, this way they have a very good base for signing a codeshare agreement with TK and benefitting from their transfer traffic in addition to P2P.

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    2. Those flights are "Serbia's share of the BEG-IST cake", or, the share that doesn't go to TK. Air Serbia couldn't secure it properly so they did it via KK who were more successful. Now KK are gone and JU has to give it another try. I doubt they can do it on their own but let's see. If they fail again TK will go to triple daily and that's it.

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  29. The way things are going Air Serbia will have 4 million passengers next year.

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  30. Now compare this Air Serbia with Jat Airways 2012

    Huge improvement

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  31. Smart move. Starting of with 3-4 weekly and increasing to daily next summer.

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  32. Good luck Air Serbia. Great to see a local ex-Yu airline developing and moving forward.

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  33. JU network is looking more and more impressive.

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    1. They have Europe pretty much covered now.

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  34. Who would have thought this time last year that Air Serbia would within 12 months launch 22 new routes, add an A319 to the fleet and operate out of 3 airports in Serbia.

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    1. It has certainly been a big change in direction. A year ago things were quite bleak and Air Serbia was in a state of deep sleep.

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    2. The good thing about their expansion is that they have added some key cities in my opinion - Madrid, Barcelona, Cairo, Helsinki and now Istanbul.

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    3. They have come a long way.

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    4. Almost nobody, perhaps AV only...

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  35. They changed the flight numbers as well. From JU552/553 to JU802/803
    New beginning.

    Regards, 8

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    1. Interestingly, weren't these the flight numbers used for Belgrade-Abu Dhabi?

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    2. I think those were JU800/801?

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    3. Yes those were 800/801

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    4. 800 code flights are used for Middle East flights, 500 ones are for the Balkans from what I know.

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    5. JU 500/501 BEG-JFK

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    6. JU500/501 for JFK remained probably out of the respect and reminiscence for JAT flights to JFK in the eighties when all of them carried JU50x flight number.

      In the present day, the 500-599 range is for Southern Europe, for example, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

      Here, Malta is the odd one out with random JU690/691 and JFK with 500/501.

      Regards, Eight

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  36. If they make a good price, they could get some transfers to/from New York on the Istanbul line, even with the nonstop flights by Turkish Airlines.

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  37. They will have to add more planes in 2020.

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  38. Isn't it "too early"?
    :)

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  39. I just bought a one way ticket from Istanbul to Ljubljana, in January, for less than 40 eu. Baggage included!
    Connecting time in Belgrade is more than 20 hours (but I don't complain at all). So visit Belgrade too :)

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    1. 36,22 euro to be exact.

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    2. It is actually 47 EUR :-) and you have also better connecting time with JU 194 leaving BEG to LJU at 18:25h

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    3. Thank you. Yes i know but I want to visit a friend in Belgrade too.

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  40. All the very best to Air Serbia. Facts show that Turkish can kill competition very easily, whenever they go. I recently flew on TK new A321neo in business and WOW, what a product and service man. Best business class in Europe by far.

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