Heathrow rejects Air Serbia request for additional slots


Air Serbia has requested an additional slot pair at London Heathrow Airport for the 2020 summer season but has been turned down by Airport Coordination Limited, which allocates slots at one of the world’s most congested airports. Air Serbia owns nine weekly slot pairs at Heathrow Airport and last summer operated an additional seven weekly flights, for a total of sixteen per week, as a result of the slots it leased from its part-owner Etihad Airways. Air Serbia operated the so-called “ghost flights” daily from Belgrade to London with Etihad Airways equipment in order for the Emirati carrier to retain ownership of the slots which it inherited from its former equity partner Jet Airways, which went into liquidation. Had Etihad kept the slots unused, it would have lost ownership over them.

Air Serbia will not be leasing the additional seven slot pairs from Etihad Airways during the 2020 summer season. On November 20, Air Serbia finalised a slot-swap agreement with Etihad for next summer, with the UAE national carrier to use the departure and arrival times in 2020 or lease them to another carrier. However, Air Serbia’s attempt to secure a tenth weekly flight to London Heathrow Airport has so far been unsuccessful, with Airport Coordination Limited refusing to grant the airline its request. Heathrow Airport operates at maximum capacity for most of the day. Oman Air broke the record for buying the most expensive slot in Heathrow’s history at 75 million US dollars from Air France - KLM in 2016. It surpassed the previous record holder American Airlines which bought a slot off SAS Scandinavian Airlines for sixty million US dollars. Croatia Airlines sold five of its morning slots, which are the most sought after, for 19.5 million US dollars in 2017 to Delta Air Lines.

Despite the slot setback, Air Serbia’s CEO, Duncan Naysmith, said last week that the airline’s results are exceeding all expectations and that more growth is expected in the coming period. “Even though we are satisfied, we will continue to improve our offer, because that is the only way we can respond to increased demand, which has in Q4 been exceeding all records since we started operations. I am convinced that everything we are preparing for the coming period will result in even better ratings from experts, but also greater satisfaction from our passengers”, Mr Naysmith said. The Serbian carrier will resume operations between Belgrade and Istanbul on Wednesday after two-and-a-half years, while on Tuesday next week it will launch operations from Kraljevo to Vienna.




Comments

  1. It seems they are successful

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    Replies
    1. By what measures?

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    2. Expanding. We remember very well the days when they were cutting the routes left and right.

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    3. LO and BT were also struggling before they started growing.

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    4. They should start Gatwick or another airport in London.

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    5. Quick question, does Siberians need visas to visit UK?

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    6. Siberians not sure, Serbians - yes. And if you don't have a US, Australian, Canadian or NZ visa you will also need a transit visa just to transfer flights.

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  2. And I remember the narrative being how Air Serbia will sell its slots at Heathrow or that Etihad would take them over.

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    Replies
    1. Haha yes.The original narrative from 2013 was how Etihad is going to steal Jat Airways' Heathrow slots.

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    2. Conspiracy theorists claimed it was part of the package with cheap agricultural land, Belgrade Airport etc.

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    3. Selling those slots and moving to Gatwick would be the smartest thing to do. Hopefully they don't sell them cheap

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  3. One extra weekly flight in summer would make sense. More than that is unnecessary as the ghost flights proved.

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  4. They requested ONE pair of slot? So they want to increase to 8 weekly? Of course they were not given it. Why would LHR do that?

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    1. No it would increase to ten as the article says.

      " However, Air Serbia’s attempt to secure a tenth weekly flight to London Heathrow Airport has so far been unsuccessful"

      Air Serbia has 9 weekly flights to Heathrow in summer.

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    2. 1 pair meaning 1 departure & 1 arrival...

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  5. They could always do what Jat Airways and add flights to Gatwick during the summer.

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    Replies
    1. +1
      One of the rare smart moves Jat Airways*** made

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  6. Interesting. Is the demand so high that they need a 10th flight? Or is it just another strategical move by Etihad?

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    Replies
    1. It is demand during summer. Etihad will get back its 7 weekly slots from Air Serbia so I don't think it's a strategic move.

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  7. JU is obviously on a role next summer if they wanted to add Heathrow flights. Looks like new planes are coming.

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    Replies
    1. Yes looks like an exciting summer ahead.

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    2. Let's just hope this growth won't be aided by Sukhoi planes.

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    3. Well they have been teasing us with various announcements. First last week that Executive also said there are major things in store for 2020, now the CEO too.

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  8. It was optimistic of JU to expect to just get slots like that.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe if they choose different departure/arrival times they could.

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  9. Oh no I loved those empty Etihad operated flights to London :(

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    Replies
    1. Must have been a financial success.

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    2. We don't know what kind of arrangement JU and EY had.

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    3. They certainly weren't a gift.

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    4. Losses on the route were covered by EY, they needed JU to do this for them as no one else would do it.

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    5. And on top of that they gave JU their own A320 and crew to operate the flight.

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  10. At least they are expansion minded these days. A welcome change to 2017 and 2018.

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    Replies
    1. Very true. Looking forward to next summer.

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  11. Etihad could always give them one weekly slot ;)

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  12. When they requested that additional slot they applied as already operating 17 weekly flights in summer 2020. Then they got rejected, then they applied to swap 7 weekly flights back to Etihad. Maybe if they apply now for an extra weekly flight they will get it.

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  13. 10 weekly flights in seems right. Hope they try again and are more successful.

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  14. Had they done more promotion around those 'ghost flights' they might have been more full. They put tickets on sale for those flights 3 days before they started.

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    Replies
    1. Those were purely operated to babysit the Etihad slots.

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  15. Do Air Serbia's existing Heathrow flights fit into any of their waves at BEG?

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    Replies
    1. Not really.

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    2. They don't but they can't do anything about it. Those are historic slots which they can't change.

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    3. What about the afternoon ones they operated this summer?

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    4. As far as I remember those flights had good connections from regional flights.

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    5. The inbound, evening flights were quite good for transfers.

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  16. If they are unable to increase LHR they can redirect that capacity to somewhere else.

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  17. Interesting that there is demand considering visa restrictions.

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    Replies
    1. There are visa restrictions for the US but there is demand for the New York flights. The LHR flights are used a lot by connecting passengers to the US, as well as the diaspora.

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    2. Now it's easier to get a US visa (very simple process) compared to UK visa.

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    3. Getting a US visa is really not difficult while the British one is pure sadomasochism.

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    4. @anon 09:42
      Serbia's niceguy policy is pure sadomasochism. No chance of talks until Serbia introduces reciprocal measures against the UK which is a non-Shengen, (soon to be) non-EU member state. There will be very little political repurcussions for Serbia.

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  18. They better start revealing their fleet plans.

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  19. Good luck Air Serbia!

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  20. What kind of service does JU offer to LHR. Is it their standard hybrid service with the cheap non luggage tickets or is it full service?

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    Replies
    1. Cheap hybrid service.

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    2. Even if BA returned to BEG, JU would still offer the best product to all London which says a lot.

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  21. Wonder which times they were pursuing. Any idea?

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    Replies
    1. Weren't a lot of slots made available with the collapse of TUI?

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    2. When did TUI collapse?

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    3. Sorry, I meant Thomas Cook.

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    4. They didn't fly from Heathrow.

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    5. TUI didn't use LHR. they flew from GTW, LTN and STN

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  22. Wizz increased Luton-Belgrade to A321 this year so I would say there certainly is demand.

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    Replies
    1. Hopefully they go to daily flights soon.

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  23. 20 weekly flights to London in summer (when Wizz is included) was way too much.

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    Replies
    1. Yes especially since on the weekends JU had 3 daily flights to London, two of which departed within 5 minutes of each other. Crazy!

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    2. Etihad flights had around 80 passengers by the end so it seems like the route started to mature quite nicely. Its departure time from London was quite convenient though.

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  24. Great to see JU and BEG growing demand for Heathrow, exciting 2020 coming our way so it seems. I am sure we will hit seven million next year.

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  25. Nice for Air Serbia to have the initiative to increase Heathrow but I would love to see British Airways come back on this route.

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    Replies
    1. With JU and W6 growing I doubt they will be back any time soon, it's not like AF which has a strong and profitable code-share agreement with JU in BEG.

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    2. They have nothing new to offer to Serbian market

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  26. I am more and more impressed by JU. Good job, you are starting to be a beacon of light in ex-YU!

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  27. Does anybody know what LF on the actual BEG-LHR route is?

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    Replies
    1. Someone posted statistics here some time ago and they were good.

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    2. For example August 2019 around 50% lf, May 2019 around 40% lf.

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    3. Anon 13.48 is writing nonsense. For example in Q1 2018 which is the slowest period in the year, Air Serbia carried on average 95 passengers per flight, that's a load-factor of 66%. In other quarters numbers are much, much higher.

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    4. You are writing nonsense. In Q1 2019 the average number of pax was 93 (in Q1 2018 94 pax). In Q3 2019 it was 86.

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  28. What kind of slots does OU have in LHR? Maybe JU could buy one from them?

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    Replies
    1. It wouldn't pay off to JU.

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    2. I don't think they are on sale ;)

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  29. No wonder they want more London flights when their top management is British :P

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  30. It should not be forgotten that several years ago JU also asked for additional slots at LHR and was also rejected. There is no doubt these slots are needed.

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  31. How does it work with providing new slots? Some companies are paying to get them and some other only ask?

    And are there any new slots at LHR available at the moment?

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  32. Isn't it "too early" for new slots? :-))

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  33. Why not fly to Gatwick instead? It could be a viable option for O&D traffic. From what I read, a lot of LHR bound passengers are transfers to North America.

    Regards,
    Eight

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    Replies
    1. I was imprecise, I did not suggest stop flying to LHR, just merely redirect the capacity increase to the airport with more room. Make it two daily. Morning flight to LHR, evening one to LGW.

      Regards,
      Eight

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  34. Good to see them trying

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  35. Heathrow flights are still very expensive on Air Serbia during the summer. Lowest fare without luggage is over 200 euros.

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    Replies
    1. BEG still remains very expensive. Many use TSR instead. Much cheaper to fly from/to London. Sometimes fares for £15.

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    2. Of course that BEG and TSR can't be compared

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    3. Well if JU is charging €200 as lowest fare to LHR and still want to add flights that means that people are willing to pay that much. The real question is what is Wizz Air doing in Belgrade if people are going to TSR to fly for 15 Pounds?

      Then again the market seems to be growing in BEG so my guess is that not that many people end up going to TSR. I can only imagine how much money Wizz is losing in TSR if they are forced to charge 15 Pounds for a three hour flight. Ouch.

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    4. Could we see daily LTN by Wizz? Also I was thinking that those reduced profits in Serbia could also be as a result of Luton moving to Wizz Air UK so the profits are credited to their UK base, not the Belgrade one.

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    5. The differences in the prices between TSR and BEG are huge:

      ЛОНДОН ЛУТОН – ТЕМИШВАР
      1 ПУТНИК
      ЛЕТОВИ‎47,98 GBP
      ФЕБ.
      11
      Лондон Лутон – Темишвар
      21:55 – 2:35 (W6 3502)
      Basic
      1 × Авионска карта ‎9,49 GBP
      1 × Административна накнада ‎7,50 GBP
      ФЕБ.
      16
      Темишвар – Лондон Лутон
      20:15 – 21:10 (W6 3501)
      Basic
      1 × Авионска карта ‎23,49 GBP
      1 × Административна накнада ‎7,50 GBP
      ПУТНИЦИ
      СЕДИШТА
      УСЛУГЕ
      ПЛАЋАЊЕ
      УКУПНО
      ‎47,98 GBP


      ЛОНДОН ЛУТОН – БЕОГРАД
      1 ПУТНИК
      ЛЕТОВИ‎179,98 GBP
      ФЕБ.
      14
      Лондон Лутон – Београд
      7:10 – 10:50 (W9 4002)
      Basic
      1 × Авионска карта ‎123,49 GBP
      1 × Административна накнада ‎7,50 GBP
      ФЕБ.
      21
      Београд – Лондон Лутон
      11:25 – 13:30 (W9 4001)
      Basic
      1 × Авионска карта ‎41,49 GBP
      1 × Административна накнада ‎7,50 GBP
      ПУТНИЦИ
      СЕДИШТА
      УСЛУГЕ
      ПЛАЋАЊЕ
      УКУПНО
      ‎179,98 GBP

      Crazy difference!

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    6. Which indicates that their yields in Belgrade are much healthier than they are in TSR, especially since they upgraded capacity a while back. The other day their load was 200/230 which isn't that bad for this slow period of the year.

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    7. And they still complain about BEG.

      Even with higher airport taxes in BEG than in TSR I am sure that with these prices they earn much more in Serbian capital

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  36. JU and BA should conclude a codeshare on these Heathrow flights.

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    Replies
    1. Would be nice but Air Serbia doesn't seem to have any cooperation with any One World carrier.

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    2. Both sides would benefit.

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    3. Anon 11:04,

      It has with Finnair.

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  37. Is JU allowed to use wide body aircraft or A321 instead of the existing planes on the LHR slots they have if theres demand?

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    1. JU has no A321

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    2. They could send the A330 but it could not be serviced in an hour in LHR, they would need at least 90 minutes on ground.

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    3. So they seriously need to think towards adding a couple of A321s. Routes like ATH, KRR, ARN, CDG, ZRH, STR, TXL (later BER) will really need expansion.

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    4. Sorry, but STR loadfactor is pretty bad, they don't need an A321, better need a smaller regional jet for that route, even the A319 is by far too big. Once EW is starting next year on the same route the loadfactor for JU will get even worse probably.

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    5. They will most likely lower the prices thus stimulating demand. That will be really bad news for Wizz Air since they fly from the nearby village. I guess their profits will drop even more. :( So sad.

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    6. So sad. :( :( :(

      Won't someone think of poor Wizz???

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  38. JU has really come a long way since 2013. Congrats. Seven million at BEG next year for sure.

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  39. That's a shame because it seems the extra capacity is really needed on this route both for O&D as well as feeding the transfer network. I wonder whether as many other users here have suggested, a few flights to LGW could be added. A further interesting thought would be to try and determine how many passengers continue their journey beyond London i.e connect in LHR or continue their journey to other UK cities and regions and a) attempt to redirect those passengers through other hubs and b) see if launching a flight to another UK city such as MAN would prove worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete

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