State approves Air Serbia subsidies for 2020


The Serbian government has approved a draft of the country’s state budget for 2020 which foresees subsidies for Air Serbia. Although the exact amount of funds has not been specified, the national carrier is one of 63 companies “of special importance“ which will share eighty million euros in subsidies among themselves. The airline was the beneficiary of 20.8 million euros "from premiums, subsidies, grants and donations" both last year and in 2017. The figure has been significantly decreased from 41.8 million euros in 2016 and is in line with the transaction agreement between the Serbian government and Air Serbia’s minority shareholder Etihad Airways.

The Serbian government maintains these funds are being used to pay off old debt owed by Air Serbia's predecessor Jat Airways, however, the accuracy of these claims has been contested. In August, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, noted, "The Government of the Republic of Serbia did not give a single dinar, euro, dollar or any other currency to subsidise Air Serbia. What you see as income from premiums is to pay off the debt accumulated by Jat, which we have taken upon ourselves. Their [Air Serbia's] financial reports will display these payments until 2023 because this is debt owed by Jat".

This summer, the now-bankrupt Adria Airways filed a complaint against Air Serbia with relevant European institutions over what it sees as illegal state aid provided by the Serbian government to its national carrier. The Serbian Finance Minister, Siniša Mali, noted that Jat's debt amounts to 380 million dollars, which was taken over by the state in 2013 and will take a decade to pay off. "We did not have 380 million dollars to pay off Jat's debt straight away. Instead, we will be making payments over a ten-year period. We process the loan as debt repayments either through Air Serbia or directly. However, none of the money goes into Air Serbia itself", Mr Mali, who previously headed the company's Supervisory Board, said.

The Prime Minister has vowed the government would stand by the carrier in the years to come. "The government of Serbia will maintain its strong support for Air Serbia. This support will be in line with European Union regulations, as it has been so far, however, no one can prevent us or limit our support for Air Serbia", Ms Brnabić said. She added, "Air Serbia plays an important role in the development of tourism, improves our economic ties with numerous countries and strengthens our country's brand. It has been an important driver of economic growth and I am certain that we will see even better results ahead since there are good prospects for further growth". Air Serbia has justified the support by noting it gives back one billion dollars to the Serbian economy each year and that it plays an instrumental role in the country's economy. "The contribution that Air Serbia makes to the national economy and the job market in Serbia cannot be overstated. We support thousands of jobs directly, through our airline operations, and indirectly, through the powerful domino effect that Air Serbia has on stimulating economic activity throughout the country”, the airline previously said.




Comments

  1. Top! Subsidies are good for JU.

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  2. Does this include the 5 million in subsidies for Nis flights (plus Kraljevo flights soon)?

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    1. We don't know if they will apply to fly from Kraljevo ;)

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  3. They are playing with fire. They should be more careful.

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    1. And what do you think can happen? If you're referring to EU state aid rules, the Commission has already stated they can't really do anything for non-EU members except express their opinion.

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    2. They are not in EU to be afraid of EC like some other companies

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    3. They are very much afraid of EC because it is the EC that allows access to EU accession funds. And trust me, EU accession funds are much more vital to the Serbian economy than Air Serbia's alleged contribution.

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    4. Please explain.

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    5. The EU won't do anything to (Air) Serbia because of political circumstances. It would only consolidate Russian and Chinese position in the country. And anyway, if the EU cared then they would have reacted to that spiteful JP lawsuit.

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    6. EU could limit traffic rights to any EU airport.

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    7. EC has much more important things to deal with especially with the companies from the countries that are EU members

      https://www.exyuaviation.com/2019/10/croatia-airlines-gets-first-135-million.html

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    8. I don't think EC will deal with Croatia regarding OU subsidies.

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    9. Well, if they don't deal with such blatant pumping of subsidies in Croatia, who on top of it all gets further pumped with subsidies for local flights too, then I think JU is pretty much safe.

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    10. Why wouldn't they?

      They did it already with Malev, Cyprus Airways, Estonian Air etc - all the companies similiar to OU by their size.

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    11. @Anonymous12 November 2019 at 09:35

      Malev similar by size to OU? Malev was twice the size of OU my dear friend.

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  4. Good. JU seems to be on the right track to completely recover. Successful summer flights, extra charter traffic and JP's demise have all helped. Looking forward to another great year in 2020. So far only BCN has been increased, I expect more to come.

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    1. Others will be increased too.

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  5. 20 million in subsidies is not that much.

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    1. That was 2019, in 2020 it could be even less.

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    2. And we will conveniently forget that on top of that they are get 5 million for Nis flights and soon a million for Kraljevo flights.

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    3. Add 50% discount for airport services and fuel discounts, the real number is much higher.

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    4. that's different type of subsidies. states are allowed to offer subsidies for certain routes it defines, either as PSO or as low yield bit necessary. Hungary did the same for certain regional routes from BUD, plus other countries as well. there is nothing illegal with that

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    5. What 50% discount? That's based on the volume they bring, not charity. BEG is not a cheap airport nor it's struggling financially, obviously that deal works just fine for all parties involved.

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    6. @Anon 9.03: I think it was already stated somewhere that amount of subsidies which are labeled as "Jat debt payment" will stay the same till 2023.

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    7. Money for Nis should not be counted here as these routes would not have been opened without Governemt's money.

      It practially means that Air Serbia management correctly judged that Nis routes will bring nothing but losses if not supported by Government. Let's not forget that GoS insisted these flights to happen in order to provide to the people from south convinient way of transportation from Nis airport.

      So, if Government wants to do it they can but therefore they need to pay for it. Air Serbia simply delivers the service they got money for (with exception of Budapest that might be replaced with another destination) .It has nothing to do with "financial help".

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    8. Yeah sure - based on volume. Ever crossed your mind that rules are not fixed? We all know these "rules" would be adjusted if it suits certain stakeholders or purposes such as support of main customer.

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    9. Of course it crossed my mind but it is obviously not preventing other airlines from increasing flights so why start with conspiracy theories?

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    10. They also got money for the A330 Serbia branding this year.

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    11. What matters is that at least they are growing and becoming quite useful to the local market. Serbia went through Hell in the past 30 years. It will take time to rebuild our economy.

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    12. ^ That is what all airlines across Europe are doing. Getting hidden incentives from their governments, airports, tourist boards, regions and so on..

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    13. You gotta spend money to make money. Serbian government is the only government in the region that is preparing its national airline for EU membership. Others went in too fast which is why they are going bankrupt one after the other, JP is already gone and looking at the situation OU might be next. JU is at least doing something guys, we should be happy about it.

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  6. It is not the only company in the world to receive subsidies this way or another....but it is the one with the oldest fleet. They have to replace many planes in the coming years. And not a single word of fleet renewal except some political bragging from time to time with Sukhois or alleged delivery of neos in few years.

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    1. Oldest fleet? Based on what? And compared to whom?

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    2. Did you just suggest that JU has the oldest fleet in the world. Haha ok.

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  7. Interesting how the Jat debt will be paid off conveniently at the end of Etihad's second 5-year deal.

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    1. Pure coincidence my friend :)

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    2. Magic! Definitely some sort of a conspiracy theory here. lol

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  8. Actually I agree with the Prime Minister... Air Serbia's contribution to the economy is much broader than as the airline business itself. It did return Belgrade as some form of center of the region, due to increased connectivity, companies moved their regional HQ's and overall Belgrade is viewed as a link to entire Balkans.

    I don't think it would be a waste of many adding more subsidies if it is pushing the company in the right direction.

    Hopefully government gives guarantees for fleet renewal, because the fleet is trully in horrible state and it needs immedisim action in order for airline to go through anoth summer season like the one in 2019

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    1. I remember the time when Jat Airways had 5-6 operational B733's + 2-3 ATR72-200
      Today we have the fleet consisted mostly of Airbuses (319+320+330) which enterior does not look bad at all. It is true that YU-ANI, YU-AND annd YU-ANK are not in a good shape as well as 3 oldest ATR72-200 but due to these 5-6 planes you can not generalize and talk about whole fleet.

      I fly with JU at least 15 times in a year so I know what I am talking about.

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    2. I flew on YU-ALV (Atr) and inside was really comfy and nice so not all Atrs are old and worn out.

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    3. I guess that makes us two...

      API and APJ are constantly broken, APF was out of service for almost a month, usually one of A320's is out...

      I am not comparing cabin layout to JAT, six years is enough time to forget about the past and start comparing ourselves to other competitors.

      State of fleet is increasing operstional cost and limiting future growth.

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    4. Saying constantly broken for YU-API and YU-APJ is actually exagarrating. By simply checking on flightradar24 you can see they are flying all the time.

      YU-APF had an accident and it is normally it must be checked properly before returned to the traffic. Now it flies again.

      Honestly speaking I have not seen any difference between JU A319's cabin and major European competitors including LCC's (comparing to especially FR JU cabin looks more than decent).

      I think we can't expect JU to buy or lease brand new planes, but the last one that joined the fleet (YU-APK) loos very nice inside.

      I believe Air Serbia should further develop in that direction, but finally needs to decide what to do with ancinet B733 fleet. I personally like them and I know they do not have to pay leasing costs for B737-300s, but their engines as well as big maintenance costs make them expensive to fly with.

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    5. YU-APF was damaged and once the repair was completed they also completed a C-check, that is why it was out of service for so long.

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  9. This company is not profitable.

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    1. Definitely more profitable and with some kind of a growth plan compared to the rest in the region.

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    2. So, it's not profitable, but it's "more profitable" than other carriers in the region? Wow!

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    3. At least JU constantly gets large guaranteed funds / yearly state subsidy injections with a goal of being self sustainable (hence profitable) by 2024. Problems are a) that this distorts the market as it is forbidden in majority of European countries and b) subsidies would most likely stay also from 2024 onwards if needed by JU.

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    4. And all huge subsidies

      - TK, SU, EK, EY, QR receive huge subsidies and all have flights to ex-Yu region
      - OU receives PSO for all domestic flights and there a lot of them
      - OU receives illegal Government's help

      In that surrounding talking that JU destorts the market is actuallly funny.

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    5. don't forget SU gets money from Siberian overfly rights so their competition is funding them. lol

      Let jU get subsidies, at least they are a convenient option when travelling abroad.

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    6. Are they? They are usually overpriced and their departures a 6AM are not convenient at all.

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    7. Overpriced if you fly in next 7 days or during Christmas. It is the case with all the companies including LCC's.
      Air Serbia had so many promotion actions to allmost all the cities in last few months including the biggest one "ponuda koja se vidi sa meseca" where almost all the cities from their network were offered with extra low prices.
      But, it is always easier to complain - why don't they offer 100 EUR for tomorrow's flight to CDG?

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    8. I bought two one-way tickets with them for November (BEG-LCA and LCA-BEG). One ticket was 7.800 RSD while the other was 5.600 RSD. These are great fares and are even cheaper than what Wizz Air offered during the same period. Air Serbia is no longer expensive like it was when Etihad was in charge of pricing.

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  10. Etihad made a fantastic deal with the government!!!
    They got half the company with the other owner continuously pumping millions to it while they do not have to contribute a single dinar.

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    1. If you see what JU got and what JJU became and compare it with broken Jat Airways from 2013 it was more than a good deal.

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    2. Yes, JU got everything paid by the state and Etihad got 50% of the company and exclusive deals for aircraft leases way above market rates.
      Also JU paid them a lot of money for "expert" advisers and services from Abu Dhabi.

      If only EY had made similar deals with the rest of the airlines she invested in it would have been n much better shape.

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    3. Did someone else want to deal with Jat at that time? No, they had no chooice.

      It was either to accept EY offer and make a decent company with necessary investments or not to have national airline at all.

      I always vote for first option

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    4. The state made all the investments and paid all the money.
      EY offered their brilliant advise about boutique airline concept!!!

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    5. - Without EY it would not have been possible at all new Airbus planes to be leased
      - Without EY it would be much more difficult pilots to be trained to fly on Airbus fleet
      - Without EY it would not have been possible route to JFK to be opened
      - Without EY it would not have been possible Jat's deposit to Airbus to be returned
      - Without EY JU would not have decent FF program
      - Without EY JU would not have so wide codeshare network with south east Asia and Australia
      - Without EY establishing new company after Jat Airways would not have been possible (no matter how much money invested) knowing how politically appointed "managers" were running Jat Airways

      And yes, it costs money. No free lunch.

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    6. Almost all of these points are very debatable!

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  11. How is the "development for tourism" donation Air Serbia gets each year accounted for?

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    1. The same like "udruzeno oglasavanje" fund

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    2. So it is not considered a subsidy. Hidden incentive I guess.

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  12. They are obviously lying about Jat debt which was never 380 million dollars.

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    Replies
    1. So they found a way to pump money into the airline by claiming its Jat debt.

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  13. Why cant they just run the airline without subsidies, run the airline properly and you wont need subsidies.

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    Replies
    1. It doesn't work like this in this part of the world.

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  14. I am very interested to see what their financial performance has been like in 2019.

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  15. What matters is that subsidies are going down each year.

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    Replies
    1. At least until new aircraft will need to be brought in to replace the Boeings and ATRs.

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    2. Well they got YU-APK and subsidies still decreased.

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  16. What would be the alternative?

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    1. Exactly. Even with the subsidies they waste much less money than Jat and at least they have a decent network, frequent flyer program, crew, online check in...

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    2. Free market would be the alternative.

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    3. "Free market" is propaganda. All it means is that established western companies (many that benefited from decades of government ownership and protectionism) get to prey on developing markets and destroy struggling local airlines (which are still unstable because of the political and economic transitions of the 1990s).

      The west insists that everyone adheres to free market because they benefit greatly from it. The moment that there is a trade deficit or that the situation doesn't benefit them any longer they will shut it down just like the United States is now having a trade war with China.

      I'm not against market capitalism but don't be a fool. The big 3 airlines in America benefited from over 70 billion in bailouts since the turn of the millennium. When will they ever pay that back? How about British, Lufthansa, or Air France, when will they ever pay back the billions and billions of value they got from the decades of state-ownership?

      Please don't be a fool. We all know who benefits from "free market" and who pays. There is a reason why the west insists on it.

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    4. @aleksandar +1000!! I am very much pro capitalism and free market but what the anon above you suggests is the same as the west benefitting from a couple of centuries of irresponsible fossil fuel burning in order to fuel its industrial revolutions while they are now urging developing countries (many of which are still developing and not developed because of the west's foreign policies and interests) to go green and clean. Also, let's not forget about the protectionism with which the US govt has kept Boeing alive over the decades!

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  17. Since they are receiving so much money from the state budget it would be nice if they became more transparent on their future plans.

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    1. Why? So that their competition can prepare itself? Imagine if they announced rescue fares before JP went bust? It would make no sense.

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  18. Seems to me the Serbian government learned to give subsidies in a way not offend EU regulators and have a cover story. The same thing many EU governments are doing.

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    1. EU regulators don't care at the moment. If there is need for political pressure, they will certainly take note.

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  19. I do not mind state aid at all, on the contrary, I support it since when looking at the greater picture Air Serbia is indeed contributing a lot to Serbian economy. Those 20 millions are really nothing compared to what Serbia is getting in return.

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    1. I would like to see if the return on investment is enough to cover the investment.

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    2. The BEG concession alone has already covered the investment.

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  20. Now that the new mini-Schengen will be born in a couple of years time, it is essential that JU establishes bases in TIA and SKP before W6 steps in.
    TIA is currently the jewel of the south.
    INI is a small market that can be postponed...

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    1. Absolutely no reason to do any of that. They should stick to increasing flights to regional destionations and feeding BEG.

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    2. TIA got a nice new increase this winter, three times per week it's on the A319. I know a guy who flew last week from BEG to TIA and they were 96 passengers.

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  21. So state is giving support so Air Serbia can offer dumping prices and rescue fares for Slovenian passengers. Great.

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    1. According to your logic Slovenian passengers should have been left to competitors.

      Rescue fares are more than normal in the in the industry and in situations certain company goes belly up. It is not Air Serbia's invention, they just reacted as they supposed to do. And they did it very well

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    2. So Serbian taxpayer is paying for Slovenian tickets? Sorry, i can not see how is this a win situation for Serbians.

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    3. They are increasing the traffic to LJU filling up their planes to other destinations from BEG at the same time bringing new portion of non standard passengers to JU planes.

      What can be wrong wih that?

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  22. I find it interesting that in Serbia people get upset about JU subsidies, media write about it all the time, but they are not upset the millions upon millions being given to other state owned company, to a much larger extend than Air Serbia. And this was the same case during Jat.

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    Replies
    1. They always find the excuses why some other companies should get it but no Air Serbia

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  23. 20 million is nothing for a country such as Serbia.

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  24. They should use money to renew fleet.

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  25. Not sure if you people are aware but the Belgrade City budget allocated 255 million euros - yes 255 MILLION EUROS in 2018 to the Gradsko Saobracajno Preduzece - the city operator of Belgrade public transport. So yes, these subsidies for Air Serbia are peanuts.

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    1. This is a wrong comparison. Gradsko Saobraćajno Preduzeće or Beograd Public Transport Co. is a Beograd City Department. Much like Gradska tržnica / City Public Markets, or Gradsko zelenilo / City Parks Dept. And all of this is on the city level, not federal.

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    2. Federal? Serbia is not a federal state.

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    3. Well alright then, state level.

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    4. That's better Charles. But I agree with you, subsidies GSP gets is much worse than JU.

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    5. Hundreds of millions are being poured into Zvezda and Partizan national sports clubs. Taxi drivers in Belgrade were recently promissed large subsidies for purchase of new vehicles. Serbian national railways are subsidized far more than all of those combined. Just three examples of much larger subsidies than legally supporting flag carrier operating in international marketspace, tilted in favour of LH and other large EU airlines.

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    6. Anonymous @ 20:58
      You seem to have missed my point.

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    7. No Charles, I just expanded on what you wrote. Imagine a company that only serves Belgrade (and not all of it) gets more than 10 times the subsidies given to a global business such as Air Serbia.

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  26. October figures presented yesterday by Air Serbia (241.000 passengers ie. 13,4% monthly growth and LF 75%) refer only to their Belgrade traffic, not inclueded Niš figures.

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    1. And how exactly do you know that?

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  27. Air Serbia is playing a key role without which BEG could never become a major regional player. This is something that needs a lot of work and a lot of time to be completed. Without JU BEG today would not be linked with places such as KRR, LED, KBP, BEY, CAI, SKG ... so subsidies are more or less justified as JU plays a key role in expanding the country's economy.

    Because of mismanagement at JU BEG suffered from slower growth in recent times. This year BEG is already catching up to SOF which recorded passenger decline in both September and October. I think the difference between the two is less than a million now compared to 1.320.935 at the beginning of the year. BEG will most likely boom in November and December so the diference will fall to below one million. Who would have thought? But that's aviation, things change every day.

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    1. I would like to add another thing. What surprised me was how much more demand Belgrade has than Sofia to places like Scandinavia or The Netherlands. Next summer Transavia will suspend AMS-SOF while they are increasing AMS-BEG fro 5 to 6 weekly. Sofia will be left with daily overpriced flights by Bulgaria Air. On the other hand JU will have 10 flights and Transavia 6 so 16 in total!

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    2. Difference should be less even at the end of year. BEG will be around 6.2 and SOF 6.9.

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    3. No new routes announced for BEG in 2020 so not sure how the same growth will be sustained.
      No demand for AMS but huge capacity to EIN.
      Plus, MUC airport already drafted their masterplan for SOF and is looking pretty decent:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc93BSVPc4k

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    4. Read the new route launches section on the right. You will find new routes to Belgrade. So your claim is false.

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    5. People come on here every time and say how SOF will boom in summer which it didn't Then they said winter is coming with new announcements yet SOF had a decline. Now we are supposed to wait for MUC to create some miracle? They can't boost numbers more than this unless they start getting transfer passengers which is highly unlikely.

      As for BEG, so far for next year this is what we have:

      7x LO from BUD
      5x LX from ZRH
      3x EW from STR
      1x JU to BCN

      So today, months before summer season starts, we are already at an additional 16 weekly flights! Isn't that impressive? Aren't we looking at 6.6 million, at least, at BEG next year?!

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    6. No new routes in 2020 except BUD with LO with an E195. There will be growth but definitely not like in 2019 unless we see a new JU expansion..

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    7. Of course it won't be as big as in 2019 and it is normal. You can't have so big expansion every single year but you can have steady growth and BEG will surely have it.

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    8. The last time I checked STR-BEG on EW is a new route in the sense of a new airline entering the market.

      Also W6 is increasing BEG-FKB from 2 to 3 weekly so that's 17 new flights. Also I am sure Red Wings is considering more flights next year since the number of Russian tourists keeps on booming. Let's wait and see what happens, there are still month before summer.

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    9. I heard MAD will also go to three weekly.

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    10. You might consider the numerous new FR flights introduced this winter that will be bookable in summer 2020: BVA, MRS and arrival of Lauda - that makes 10 weekly flights.
      STN - up to 17 weekly for summer
      EW - 5 weekly also extended
      LO - daily
      RO - increase to 16 weekly (+5 new flights)
      A3 - 9 weekly (+1)

      Roughly around 20 new flights not operated in summer 2020.
      Not to mention that LO are sending 734 on some days and BA + U2 sending A321 neo.

      Inspite of the weaker 2019 and all the new additions in BEG, there is still a significant gap of nearly 3/4 of a million.

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    11. Yes the gap that will be eventually filled. Also don't forget that BEG will have all those extra flights in H1 from H2 2019 so numbers should keep on booming before SOF gets any new flights in summer 2020. Like that the two airports might be on the same level in H1 2020.

      So roughly 20 new flights minus 3 that they are losing from Transavia's departure means that so far they have the same number of flight additions as BEG. Only difference is that BEG has a much stronger H1 2020 and the rest of 2019.

      So overall BEG is in a much better position. Its BEG's time to shine, SOF had its moment.

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    12. Unless they return to growth in November and December, SOF will barely pass 7 million this year. So far they have 6.019.109 passengers or just 62.873 more than last year. So far 3/10 months this year had a passenger decline. This was all caused by the inorganic growth caused by the FR-W6 war.

      Oh and btw, Lauda will destroy OS so most likely next winter they will reduce flights like they did in TIA, SKG and ATH ;)

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    13. Belavia will have 3 non stop to BEG next summer like in winter. No more BUD stop.

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    14. SOF-VIE and SOF-BTS have extremely strong demand and Vienna was the busiest route (after London) for decades. It is also the busiest route in VAR.
      No way will OS give up easily.
      BEG also shined when the new JU was born in 2013 and overpassed SOF.
      In 2016-2017, FR arrived and made a revolution.
      2019 was very good for BEG thanks to the summer frequency boosts and JU expansion.
      That said, lets see if Vinci keep their promise of generating a traffic of 12 million...

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    15. Problems in SOF are coming from the war between the Airport Management and WIZZ. Anyhow SOF will be positive again in November and December. So, it will surpass the 7 mln. milestone.

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  28. Again? Weren't they supposed to stop them? Oh I forgot - we are in Serbia lol

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  29. Ne zaboravite da ce Vansi placati godisnje Srbiji od 5-15ml evra u zavisnosti od broja putnika. Dakle na ErSrbiji je da svake godine generise rast aerosroma a takse koje Vansi placa drzavi ce se vracati njima kroz subvencije,i svi mogu biti na dobitku.

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  30. @ex-yu aviation
    Could you please explain why you erased twice posts of Anonymous asking does Air Serbia still has debts belonging to its predecessor and my posts in response about the difference between JAT and Jat? I mean yes, this is your blog and technically you have right to do it, I just wonder why, because there is absolutely nothing offensive, discriminating, vulgar, provocative, alltogether 4 totally normal posts which you erased. I would really appreciate if you tell me why. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because your response drew additional unnecessary responses completely unrelated to today's topic.

      Delete
  31. It should not be the responsibility of the tax payer to help companies.

    ReplyDelete

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