Air Serbia to boost Istanbul operations


Air Serbia will increase its frequencies on flights between Belgrade and Istanbul. Starting March 29, the Serbian carrier will run daily rotations to Turkey’s largest city, up from the current three weekly services. As a result, the Serbian capital will have three daily flights to Istanbul’s main airport, with two daily operations maintained by Turkish Airlines. Furthermore, there will be four weekly flights to Sabiha Gokcen Airport, run by Pegasus Airlines. Air Serbia resumed services to Istanbul last month following a two-year hiatus after its partner Atlasglobal suspended all operations. At the time, it indicated it would likely increase frequencies to the Turkish city.


  1. Anonymous10:32

    So with this increase all major markets in the region they fly to will have at least daily flights? This increase makes me really happy as there is so much room to grow in Istanbul thanks to booming Turkish arrivals. Yields should be also good this time around.

  2. Anonymous11:06

    What are the exact times?

    1. Anonymous11:12

      Flights all over because of slots at IST but they all fly during the noon wave.

  3. Anonymous11:16

    Even with KK gone we are going to have three more flights a week than last year which is great.

  4. Anonymous11:19

    Did I miss some JU increases:

    PRG +3
    TIA +5
    OTP +1
    SKP +1
    LCA +2
    IST +7
    ZAG +1
    LJU +3

    Total: 23 weekly frequencies.

    1. Anonymous11:27

      Yes but keep in mind they are reducing LHR by 7 since they won't be keeping the Etihad slots.

    2. Anonymous11:31

      BCN +1
      MAD +1
      LJU +5
      TIV +2
      ZAG +2
      ZRH -1

    3. Anonymous11:34

      Wow I completely forgot LJU was 12 last summer, this is really crazy growth! I also forgot about MAD and BCN especially Barcelona which was increased a while ago. So that comes out to around 4 to 5 extra daily rotations.

    4. Anonymous12:13

      ....+10-ak novih linija sto ce reci minimum 20 rotacija :)

    5. Anonymous12:26

      These flights to LHR were disaster anyway, hardly anyone will miss them.

    6. Anonymous12:31

      There were discussions KRR will be increased to four weekly.

    7. Anonymous12:35

      theyre going to lease another A319

    8. Anonymous04:22

      More than 50 additional rotations are planned for Belgrade and no one complains about the gate availability. Mention adding one more A330 and all hell breaks loose, not enough gates! Yeah right, no one is buying it.

    9. Nemjee07:34

      No one? From what I read on here many have said that BEG needs to urgently expand its terminal. They are getting close to maximum capacity which also includes gate availability. I was looking at some flights and I noticed that LH's morning FRA on some days has been moved to 06.00. I guess for the same reason Wizz Air had to move its Dortmund flights to 07.25.

  5. Anonymous11:27

    Now if only TK was allowed to send widebodies.

    1. Anonymous11:36

      Maybe CAD will allow them if TK flies with dreamliners, not A333? :D

      No airline flies to BEG with dreamliner and it would be cool to see dreamliners in BEG! And TK flies 787-9 to many destinations in Europe.

    2. Anonymous11:40

      Hahah they could use it a loophole in the agreement and get to send the widebody to BEG :D Though I would personally prefer a third daily :D

  6. Anonymous11:29

    Bravo Airserbia!

    As a Turk, that makes me happy.

    On June 18th, 5th runway (3th parallel runway) of Istanbul Airport will be completed and open for take off/landing. There is a HUGE room in IST for increasing new flights and there is a HUGE demand between Belgrade and Istanbul. Congrats again!

    1. Anonymous11:35

      Wasn't BEG third busiest destination in the Balkans from IST?

    2. Anonymous11:50

      I'm not sure, but if it was the 3rd busiest balkan destination but not 1st is caused by Serbian CAD doesn't allow third daily flights from Istanbul by TK. Or widebodies instead of A321...

      This year TK flies to Sarajevo three times daily and Pegasus flies to Sarajevo 9 weekly.

      Trust me Belgrade is a more popular destination than Sarajevo here in Istanbul. :)

    3. Nemjee12:02

      I think BEG and BUD are neck and neck with the latter being ahead by a few thousand passengers at the end of the year. Athens and Bucharest are ahead of Belgrade which ranks fourth. That said with JU going daily numbers should be really good in 2020.


      2013: 150.800
      2014: 188.337
      2015: 233.431
      2016: 208.398
      2017: 249.589
      2018: 262.017


      2018: 80.957

    4. Anonymous12:34

      There is not much space around the times JU requested slots.

    5. Anonymous13:43

      300.000 in 2020

    6. Anonymous13:55

      Is IST busier than ZRH or VIE?

    7. Nemjee15:23

      Not busier than Zurich but Istanbul is way ahead of Vienna. Of course in 2020 we are getting more flights by OS so numbers should keep on climbing.


      2016: 189.374
      2017: 198.981
      2018: 202.597

      Q1 and Q2 this year saw increases so it's safe to assume that in 2019 numbers will keep on growing.

      2018: 95.013
      2019: 98.154

      This growth is quite good given that there were barely any increases regarding the amount of seats on the market. I wouldn't be surprised if this growth was primarily fuelled by Austrian Airlines which started replacing Q400s with the E95s on their flights to Belgrade.

      Q3 will be particularly interesting as that's when Air Serbia kicked off their expansion so one would expect VIE to profit from it as well.

      The two cities are close to each other so airlines will always compete with the highway. That said, I wouldn't be too surprised if in the coming months someone like Wizz Air or Lauda announce fligths from VIE to BEG. After all, I think Prague and Belgrade are the two remaining capital cities in the east and south-east not to have an LCC link with Vienna. I doubt such a market will be ignored for much longer, I am referring to Belgrade that is.

    8. Anonymous16:03


      do you have the numbers for BEG-FRA route (2016, 2017, 2018)?

      Thank you.

    9. Nemjee16:34

      Sure thing, here it is:

      2016: 235.265
      2017: 245.165
      2018: 254.033

  7. Anonymous11:42

    anyone know if Pegasus is not increasing flights because of bilateral or because there is not enough demand?

    1. Anonymous11:45

      They can't increase flights because of the bilateral. The only reason Air Serbia was able to introduce flights was because Atlasglobal went bust and the only way Turkish Airlines will be able to increase flights is if Air Serbia gives its approval.

    2. Anonymous11:48

      You come to the conclusion that there isn't enough demand when an airline is increasing flights to Istanbul and when there will be a record number of flights to Istanbul. Very smart anon 11.42.

    3. Anonymous12:30

      Pegasus is not improving because SAW is too far away from the city downtown. And their connecting capabilities are not sold in great numbers with BEG. They shall try to target people travelling to Gulf area, because direct flights to there are insanely expensive.

    4. Anonymous12:31

      Do you understand English? They can't increase frequencies. READ THE BILATERAL.

    5. Anonymous12:35

      SAW airport is now at equal distance to the center as the new IST airport.

    6. Anonymous16:34

      or even closer, but still across the sea .....

    7. Anonymous10:08

      Nikada nisi bio u Stambolu znaci. Tako se lako provaljujete, Carigrad je bio samo sa evropske strane. Stambol sa obe strane Bosfora. SAW je sada duplo blizi od novog aerodroma. I postoje tri mosta preko i metro koji ide ispod Bosfora.

  8. Anonymous12:35

    Any info what are the current JU loads on this route? Emotions are one thing while results are another.

    1. Anonymous12:36

      Increasing from 3 weekly to daily. Probably so they could fly empty.

    2. Anonymous12:36

      82% sold-out until the end of winter season.

    3. Anonymous14:43

      Anon 12:36 why do you need to be sarcastic!?! the question asked was appropriate knowing how strong TK is on that route.

  9. Anonymous14:42

    That is bad news for TK.

  10. Anonymous15:04

    Bravoooo! I was afraid they were not going to do well but this is just brilliant! Every day it looks more and more like we are going to hit that magic seven million <3

  11. Interesting that Air Serbia seems to be succeeding in IST, but other carriers from the region can not make it work. I think that even to bigger markets only Turkish flies, ie; FCO, ZRH, and VIE.
    I wonder why.

    1. Nemjee16:37

      My guess is that Swiss and Austrian Airlines failed because of much higher costs when compared to Turkish Airlines or Pegasus. Then you have airlines like LOT, Tarom, Air Serbia or even Aegean which probably have enough local demand and costs that are low enough to be able to match what TK is offering and to still make money on the market.

      As for JU, it also helps that TK is somewhat restricted so it can't blow them away with multiple daily flights where some are operated with a widebody. On top of that, Turkish arrivals to Serbia keep on growing which helps in filling seats. All in all, I am sure JU will have no problems this time around as many things have changed since the last time they were flying to Turkey starting with the fact that now they are fully in control of their revenue management.

    2. Yes, things must have changed in the last few years enough for AS to do ok on this route. I'm wondering if the pax are mainly p2p or are there some transfer pax from Serbia. Also Serbia does not have any sizable Turkish population, so the Turks coming to Serbia are either tourists, or for business, maybe some government & diplomatic people. Probably not a lot of Turks transferring at BEG, since they have IST where they can travel to virtually anywhere in the world. Also, it is hard for any airline to compete with Turkish since they are strongly supported by the government.

    3. Nemjee17:02

      Well, it might be difficult to compete with TK in terms of product but not so much in terms of price. Turkish Airlines is not really cheap, especially if you are an O&D passenger. Our company exports products to Turkey so we have people who are regular on TK from BEG. Fares are many things but they are rarely low. For example last February, during the slowest period of the year, we paid €416 for a ticket, most of the times we pay between €200 and €320 for a return fare and flights are never less than 85% full, even on the A321.

      Turkish Airlines' biggest advantage is its timetable which is extremely convenient. That is why no one can beat them. I still think it's a shame Air Serbia doesn't have a Friday flight to Istanbul that leaves Belgrade at around 17.00. There is enough local traffic to fill an A319 at those hours. It would also be extremely convenient for all the tourists who could still have a full workday in Turkey and then go to Belgrade right after.

      By the way, I read on various forums that TK needs to cut €250 million due to financial issues they are faced with. That is why they reduced many underperforming routes a while ago. Catering and cargo are still located at the old terminal so everything has to be shuttled between the two locations. The whole move was rushed and TK is paying the price for it now.

      I know some people at BEG and they told me that around 40% of the passengers on JU's IST are transfers. Now, if they were lying to me, I am lying to you. :)

    4. Anonymous17:09

      Turkish is not supported by the government. Please provide any data that proves it. %49 of Turkish belongs to Turkish state and rest is privately owned and open to Istanbul stock exchange.

      Also as for your comments, when you give examples that SWISS, Austrian couldn't make it in Istanbul, remember Qatar flies 5 daily to Istanbul (3 of them with widebodies) against Turkish one daily to Doha with A321.

      It's just Lufthansa group didn't want to fight for Istanbul, meanwhile Qatar flies to 8 places Turkey in summer.

      Also remember Turkish and Lufthansa together have Sunexpress for flights between Germany + Switzerland+ Austria to Turkey flights (mostly to Antalya and Izmir) and they left IST to star alliance member TK.

      Long story short; SWISS and Austrian and bankruptcy Alitalia stopping flights to IST doesn't mean airlines can't make money on the market at all.

    5. Well Air France has one daily flight to IST from CDG, Turkish has 6 daily to CDG.
      KLM has one daily flight to IST from AMS, Turkish has 4 daily to AMS.
      Iberia has no daily flights to IST from MAD, Turkish has 5 daily to MAD.
      Ukraine int. has 1.5 daily flights to IST from KBP, Turkish has 4 daily to KBP.
      BA has two daily flights to IST from LHR, Turkish has 5 daily to LHR.

      This is much more than Lufthansa group. Point being that Turkish has preferential treatment from the Turkish government on many levels. (As do LH group, AF, BA etc. at their hubs) but TK seems to be dominating at the big markets in Europe (and elsewhere). Hey, hats off to TK for their success, my only issue is that there has to be something more at play here than just market conditions, or great TK on board service. And for little Serbia to have daily flights to IST is highly commendable. 40% transfer passengers on JU's IST flights is pretty good, more than I expected.

    6. Nemjee18:05

      I think it's impressive how Aegean managed to survive on ATH-IST with three daily flights despite TK going wild on the route with a mix of A321, A333, B789 and B77W. Then again they do operate in a massive market which has close to 700.000 passengers a year. I think making IST work is not easy but not impossible either. TK is also feeling financial pressure so they can no longer dump fares left and right on top of now operating out of a massive airport where slots are not impossible to find as was the case before.

    7. Anonymous18:37

      Also that new airport has brought them additional expenses.

    8. Anonymous19:16

      Really interesting discussion today guys.

  12. Anonymous08:22

    Does anybody know if AirSerbia has ever flown to Istanbul (IST or SAW) daily before?

    1. Jat used to fly with an AT7.
      Air Serbia started with SAW due to slot issues at old IST, and then switched over to old IST before canceling the route.


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