State hints at post-Covid Air Serbia expansion

The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, has hinted at plans to expand the Serbian carrier in certain markets in the region once the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic eases. Mr Vučić noted, “We will strengthen and further develop Air Serbia which literally saved us at this time. It brought back thousands of our nationals, from places as far away as Cuba and Bali. Imagine what we would have done without our national carrier. They have transported tons of cargo and supplies from China, Russia, the EU and the United States. Since there will be a shortage of money in our region, we will expand such state-owned companies in different places across the region, but I don’t want to reveal more details at this point”. The company has not publicly commented on any of its future plans.

The President has been continuously reiterating Air Serbia’s importance for the country over the past two weeks and has committed to providing financial support for the company, naming it as one of the pillars of Serbia’s economy. The Serbian government has said it will stimulate the economy following the global health crisis through large-scale spending. The International Monetary Fund this week estimated Serbia’s economy would contract by 3% this year but would grow 7.5% in 2021.

Last week, the Serbian Ministry for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure said Air Serbia had registered over forty million euros in direct losses as a result of the coronavirus. It added the airline faces a long road to recovery which would stretch into 2021. The country has previously said it will provide financial support for its national carrier either through recapitalisation or corporate bonds. Air Serbia has scheduled May 1 as a tentative date for its resumption of operations, although this will depend on the country’s ongoing state of emergency and the lifting of its ban on commercial flights. Air Serbia has been operating an average of two daily repatriation services since it was grounded on March 20. It has also transported several thousand tons of aid. At this point, the airline has seven new routes scheduled to launch in May and June.


  1. Anonymous09:03

    The way things are going Vucic will become Air Serbia’s CEO when this is over.

    1. Anonymous09:14

      Everyone knows Air Serbia is Vucic's baby.

    2. Anonymous09:18

      What it looks like to me is that there will be a lot more government interference in the future just like in the beginning. We all know under whose order New York was introduced.

    3. Anonymous09:20


    4. Anonymous09:25

      Air Serbia is no exception. A lot of other flag carriers will receive much, much more.

      After all it is very good to see Air Serbia will continue to be the biggest air carrier in ex-YU after the crisis as well

    5. Anonymous09:31

      And you think LO buying Condor was not a political decision? Governments all over push their airlines to succeed because they profit the most.

    6. Anonymous09:33

      Germany will buy back DE.

    7. Anonymous09:40

      Lets see what user Taxpayer will have to say about this today and his opinion is also needed.

    8. Anonymous10:09

      Highly doubt Germany will buy DE Now when they have to bail out LH.

    9. Anonymous10:12

      Serbian government holds a majority stake in JU so Vucic has all the right to comment on it, like any majority shareholder can comment and direct polices in a private firm. In fact, I would be worried if there were no comments. In situations like this, I'm thankful that there is a strong hand behind the company that can pick up and glue back the broken pieces after all of this is over.

    10. Vucic has nothing to do with the government, he is a president. He has no any right to decide where the public/budget money goes.

    11. Anonymous13:36

      Hahahah... and that is a good joke Dule. Goood joke.

    12. Anonymous13:49

      -Everyone knows Air Serbia is Vucic's baby.

      Actually, I don't know. Airline was founded in 1927 and served as a carrier under various brands and flags/governments over time. Opposition leaders never said they would shut down the airline. Looks like this airline will keep being a flag carrier for a very long time regardless of who is in power.

    13. Anonymous14:37

      Just like Anon 13.49 said, JU is one of the oldest airlines in the world which was founded in 1927 as a private Serbian airline only to be nationalized by the Communists in 1947. It's not Vucic's toy but he as the president of the Republic does support it's growth as any sane person would do. Look at what Romanians are doing in order to protect Tarom or the Italians to protect Alitalia. Royal Danish government said they will do everything to save SAS. Does it mean SK's is Queen Margrethe's toy?

    14. Anonymous18:05

      Does name Branislav Malovic ring a bell?

    15. Anonymous18:46

      Of course but I don't know what he's got to do with anything. All major expansion plans are presented to Ana and approved by her. Vuchic doesn't micromanage things in JU but he does support them.

    16. Anonymous19:51

      So then you know that not a single thing can go through without his approval.
      His approval even goes after Duncan's, who is supposed to be CEO.
      And you also probably know how he got there, so it's clear who pulls the strings in JU.
      Don't make me laugh about Ana :)

  2. Anonymous09:03

    Other than opening a base in Banja Luka I don’t see where they can find other regional opportunities.

    1. Anonymous09:06


    2. Anonymous09:08

      maybe in Ljubljana?

    3. Anonymous09:09

      ^ impossible since Slovenia is in the EU.

    4. Anonymous09:10

      Didn't Vicic announce years ago that if it weren't for politics JU would have bought YM?

    5. Anonymous12:59

      Air Serbia should focus on BEG and have others transfer there on their way to the rest of the world. Look at LJU-BEG, flights were and will be packed soon again.

  3. Anonymous09:07

    Well at least it's comforting to see the government is supporting them all the way. Good for consumer confidence too.

  4. Anonymous09:12

    Let's hope but the ministry of transport"s statement is more believable. Big losses and a long road to recovery.

  5. Anonymous09:13

    If they had a more neutral name it would be much easier to expand in the region.

    1. Anonymous09:16

      They can always use the Aviolet brand.

    2. Anonymous09:29

      Jat Airways had more neutral name but much older planes and much less destinations. Did it help them? Of course not.

      Adria was neutral name as well. Did it help? Certainly not.

      Air Serbia is perfect name. Proudly shines on JU planes

    3. Anonymous10:10

      Name is not an issue. #norwegian

  6. Anonymous09:14

    Maybe in Budapest? 😂

    1. Anonymous09:36

      Budapest is just a start. Vienna, and than Frankfurt. In no-time they will open base in New York and Singapore.

    2. Anonymous09:51

      What is the point of such sarcastic post? Jealousy?

    3. Anonymous10:17

      It can only be jealousy or inherent defeatism. I'm glad there are official rumours now about this initiative. Such acquisitions are a normal occurrence across the board. For a tiny region like ours it could be beneficial.

  7. Anonymous09:19

    Maybe this means they will finally launch PRN.

  8. Anonymous09:24

    Interesting times are coming ahead. The government seems to be putting a positive spin for the future but to be honest I'm not sure it's going to be so rosy for JU

  9. Anonymous09:24

    I have respect for the SEE goverments that are continuously pumpimg money into their national air carrier, since I agree that they are vital and important, and that’s why Air Serbia, Croatia Airlines will survive and thrive for many years to come, irrespective if they make money or not.

    However, to hint that an economy will grow 7% in 2021, when the whole world economy is in limbo is outright irresponsible and ludicrous! one would say its even borderline demagoguery and fake news and casts doubt on human intelligence, not even China can predict what their growth will be.

    1. Anonymous09:25

      The 7% growth is not a hint. It's the IMF's estimate. They announced estimates for each country on Monday.

    2. Anonymous09:27

      It's not an estimate by the Serbian government its what the IMF said based on the current situation. And they gave a reasoning for each estimate.

    3. Anonymous09:33

      It's 7.5%

    4. Anonymous10:21

      Serbia has taken an alternative approach to its economic growth after floating in a bog for decades. Like it or not who is steering the ship, but these changes are yielding results. Putting politics aside, Serbia has had a very impressive economic growth over the past 2 years, and the future growth estimates are some of the higher ones in Europe.

    5. Anonymous12:25

      Actually economic measures taken during corona are fantastic, in our company we are seeing that only now. Also the fact the government will guarantee €2 billion in loans with 1% interest rate and a year grace period is also spectacular. We applied for a loan in order to invest in a new product. Never would we get such terms in normal circumstances.

      That is why Serbian economy will thrive after corona, we are going to be left unscathed or at least not as much as some others.

  10. Anonymous09:34

    JU needs to capitalize on the situation and get another inter-continental plane. Demand through the big airports in Europe will be down significantly. Two potential markets are ORD and YYZ.

    1. Anonymous09:42

      The corona thing will have quite a huge economic effect in the whole world. Unemployment rate is soaring in the US and Europe will also be effected. We are going back to the 2008 crisis case and it will take years for all airlines including JU to recover. Sad, but true.
      Today the airline is almost defunct and you are talking about ORD and YYZ.

    2. Anonymous12:26

      Serbian economy will remain stable meaning people will have money to travel, especially now when everything will be cheap due to the crisis. JU will profit from this.

  11. Anonymous09:34

    Wooow is that a 200 in the background

    1. Anonymous09:45

      Yep from Aviogenex.

    2. Anonymous09:46

      Photo is probably from 2013-2014

    3. Anonymous09:56

      I think that B737-200 is still sitting at BEG airport.

    4. Anonymous11:29

      It's dragged to Jay Tehnika tarmac years ago. This photo is from 2014 when it was on the B platform

  12. Anonymous09:40

    Once this crisis is over people will have to start flying again - on the beginning diaspora and business travellers where the price of the ticket will be very important factor.

    It is actually big chance for Air Serbia as it was already their policy before crisis to offer connecting flights for reasonable price.

    On the other side carriers and countries that rely on tourism will have much more difficulties as this branch will be the last to recover.

  13. Anonymous09:47

    Oh this is so dramatic, I am crying, this is perfect for the front page of Informer. "Air Serbia which literally saved us at this time" :D
    Typical Vucic propaganda, just missing the tears on national TV.

    "Imagine what we would have done without our national carrier."


    There were tons of joint European flights, on which EU and non-EU citizens were brought back. No need to fly a whole plane for 10 citizens in Bali.
    North Macedonia showed the way to go for bringing back citizens from European countries, you organize a tender and there are tons of airlines with free capacity right now.

    1. Anonymous09:59


      There are thousands of aircraft available around the world, and people still think everybody would be dead somewhere in the ditch if it wasn't for their precious national carrier.

    2. Anonymous10:15


    3. Anonymous10:33

      Great. Not only did North Macedonia have to pay a hefty sum to Wizz Air to perform the flights, it's citizens also have to pay a hefty fare to Wizz Air for being repatriated and had to be stuck for longer so a tender could be performed. Countries with national carriers flew their citizens home for free. But you are right. The majority of European countries with national carriers are all crazy.

    4. Anonymous10:37

      You can keep crying as you say but I don't know where they would find an airline to fly daily flights to China to transport aid (sometimes even two flights per day) and for that to happen the day after a pandemic was announced. Just because your country does not have a national carrier does not mean that no other country in the world should.

    5. Anonymous10:44

      There are private cargo|passenger airlines (even local ones) that could fly aid|passengers. No need to send a passenger plane to fly some cargo.

      Bottom line. One of Europe's poorest countries will invest even more in a loss-making political project that was a cash black hole even during times of booming economy. It is suicidal to put so much money in an airlines without any perspective instead of helping solvent businesses in Serbia (or whatever country) during the crisis. Nevertheless...some people's pockets will be fuller than they were before.

    6. Anonymous10:44

      I always find it amazing how these people always go into the same old centrifugal spin of passive-aggressive assaults with the usual "poorest country" "worst regime" drivel over and over again and they still somehow stay relevant. Having such frustration and desperation to view personal feelings and political views even on an aviation blog is mind-blowing. Not sure if its just the mentality or narrow-mindedness, but it's like listening to a same record on repeat, on a broken gramophone.

      National carrier assistance has been invaluable in the local situation, as was in other countries. The cost was minimised, the flexibility was there, and money wasn't being pumped into opportunistic flight-services that mushroomed globally over the past month. Of course, it would just be ridiculous to evaluate the importance of a national carrier in times of crises as JU has proven over and over again how it works in tandem with economic growth in the country.

    7. Anonymous10:45

      If you define national carriers by the name of it, like BA or Lufthansa or Swiss, then you should check your facts first, since literally NONE of those repatriated their citizens for free- on the contrary, they had to pay horrendous amounts to get back home.

    8. Anonymous10:58

      So it's not a problem when Croatia Airlines operates repatriation flights or goes to Abu Dhabi to pick up face masks yet it's a problem when Air Serbia does it? Ok.

    9. Anonymous11:35

      Just to add that N.Macedonian government requested each of its citizens carried back to refund the airline within 2 weeks for the rescued flight ticket via which they were evacuated back. So, so much for your "North Macedonia showed a way to go...".

    10. Anonymous11:49

      Air Serbia will never turn a profit.

      I repeat, they will never turn a profit with a government that openly supports them at all costs.

      I know Vucic actions flatter ego’s, and makes you all want to believe in that all will be well, and Air Serbia will thrive, but it will only survive with taxpayers money, and will never be a sustainable airline. Alitalia is a great example to this, they are continuously on life support.

    11. Anonymous11:50

      You went from having an issue with repatriation flights to Air Serbia's finances.

    12. Anonymous11:50

      He has an issue with the country, not so much with the airline.

    13. Anonymous12:30

      Yesterday an A319 and A332 were in China bringing medical supplies to Serbia. Never would Serbia be in a position to do it if it had to pay someone else to do it. Not only would it cost more but Serbia would have to stand in line with others and fight them to get access to cargo aircraft. For God's sake it cost the EU €450.000 to pay the Belorussians to bring aid on the B747. Do you honestly think Serbia spends more than a fraction of that on sending JU birds? Highly doubt it costs them more than €50.000 to send it there.

      We get medical supplies much faster. Ana was on the radio this morning and she said that from next week we will slowly start returning to normal as corona is under control except in Pozharevac and Nish.

      So while others are still fighting with rising deaths and collapsing economies (Germany -10% in Q2, UK -35% in June) Serbia will be able to slowly get ready to restart its economy.

    14. Actually, it is the other way around, infections and deaths have been decreasing in Germany (and have been among the lowest in Europe in general) and they are still increasing in Serbia.
      As for the economies... sure Germany and UK will collapse and Serbia's economy will thrive...

    15. Anonymous12:58

      Actually they haven't increased in Serbia. They have been declining proportionate to the amount of testing that has been done, which has increased a lot. Check your facts.

    16. Anonymous13:00

      Unknown, so what you are saying is that economies of Germany and the UK will not shrink? I am just curious to see what facts you are presenting on here.

      I honestly can't understand where is all this hatered and anti-Serbian bigotry coming from. Seriously people, spread love, note hate.

    17. Prosto ne mogu da ne odgovorim na količinu besmisla u pojedinim komentarima. Da, istina je, bez Air Serbia ne bi ni bilo pola urađeno. Ne znate koliko kinezi zatežu sa novim propisima, jel znate koliko je letova obavila AS? Koriste se i cargo avioni uporedo sa našim avionima. Iznajmljivanje ad hoc kargo aviona ide i preko 1.5 mil eura. I uglavnom du zauzeti do maja. Jako je teško naći slobodan termin za kad nama treba. AS je sposobna u roku od pola sata da ima spreman avion za hitan let. Testovi se prevoze u posebnim uslovima, te je rok za isporuku od fabrike do Torlaka 5 dana. AS ne naplaćuje penale ukoliko kasni roba za utovar, iznajmljeni avion se vrati prazan ukoliko nema robe jer je već angažovan za nekog drugog. Er Srbija je fleksibilna i možemo da je prilagođavamo svakoj novonastaloj situaciji, a verujte dešavaju se svakim letom iznova i iznova.
      Tako da nemojte komentarisati nešto u šta se očigledno ne razumete, poštujem vašu želju da budete pametni, ali niste. I za kraj, još jedno HVALA ER SRBIJI od srca.

    18. Anonymous13:06

      Don't forget that Air Serbia had to wait 10.5 HOURS in Beijing as the delivery of the goods was late. What leased out airline would wait that long before first charging you hundreds of thousands of Euros.

      Like some wrote today, issue is not JU, it's the country whose name is featured in its name and that's the most tragic part of it all.

    19. Anonymous14:09

      -North Macedonia showed the way to go for bringing back citizens from European countries, you organize a tender and there are tons of airlines with free capacity right now.

      LOL, they showed the wrong way to do it. Directly contracting Wizz in SKP would have been the right way. What was wrong was tender process during crisis.

      If N.Macedonia wants to show the way to go, once this crisis is over they should give incentives to carriers other than Wizz and have tender rules in the future that would level the playing field and exclude companies like Wizz. That would be the right thing to do, not the way they had tender won by Wizz during crisis.

    20. Anonymous14:10

      Hvala, brate Xi!

    21. Anonymous14:39

      Back in the day the government realized what it had done in relation to Wizz Air so they tried to diversify the offer. Wizz Air screamed and shouted so the attempt was suspended. North Macedonia is held hostage by Wizz Air, they need to act like that so as to maximize their profits. They need this to brag how they are sitting on 1.5 billion Euros.

    22. Anonymous18:10

      "Don't forget that Air Serbia had to wait 10.5 HOURS in Beijing as the delivery of the goods was late. What leased out airline would wait that long before first charging you hundreds of thousands of Euros."

      10 hours delay is pretty normal in freight, especially charter/large cargo. Even a day or two is within normality.

      "Yesterday an A319 and A332 were in China bringing medical supplies to Serbia. Never would Serbia be in a position to do it if it had to pay someone else to do it."

      But they are in position to pay tens of million of EUR each year to keep Air Serbia "profitable".

      Look at Slovenia, JP is dead and there is still widebody after widebody coming from China and other places with medical supplies. Can you imagine that, even without the national carrier?

    23. Anonymous18:14

      The only difference being it took Slovenia a month to organise those widebodies. You also might want to compare population sizes of the two and how much supplies are needed. In addition to Air Serbia there are daily cargo flight coming to Belgrade each day. Etihad had three B777 flights, B747s coming from all sorts of places etc.

    24. Anonymous18:16

      Also I don't know why it bothers you so much if Serbia has a national airline and if it will invest in it? No one has suggested that another country, Slovenia, Macedonia or whichever, does or does not need a national airline.

    25. Anonymous21:05

      To im je trn u oku.
      Simple as that

    26. Anonymous21:13

      Aeroflot 777-300 ER in Star Alliance livery ( VQ-BQG ) landed today in Belgrade . Evacuation flight or for medical supplies ?

  14. Anonymous10:51

    So many people triggered...

    1. Anonymous10:55

      True. I don't think it's been a while like this. Maybe it's all the sitting at home. People need to let their frustrations out.

    2. Anonymous12:31

      Naah it's always like this when it's good news about JU.

  15. Anonymous11:15

    I have this wild theory that they will launch China soon. The GoS is talking about those China flights and aid so much, that I have a feeling they will launch another political route to Beijing or Shanghai as soon as the virus is gone.

    1. Anonymous11:27

      Not the "political route" guys again...

    2. Anonymous11:36

      These cliches are getting so tiring.

    3. Anonymous12:33

      The clip of Chinese aid arriving to Serbia was seen by people in China, there was a lot of promotion and a huge PR campaign. Expect Chinese arrivals to explode once corona passes. Don't forget that China was more or less spared by corona as it was released only in Wuhan and has not spread around the country.

    4. Anonymous14:38

      So close to 80% of the Chinese population watched that video?

      - Are they all Chinese?
      - Are they all unique views?
      - Do you always go on holiday to the country your government sends medical aid to?
      - The numbers in Europe are highly inaccurate because the lack of testing, how do you think that'll be for China?

      I am very happy to believe that more Chinese will visit after this crisis, the way you write it down makes it sound like good old propaganda or so....

    5. Anonymous18:35

      - Do you know they were not all Chinese even if it was on their social media?
      - Were they not unique views?
      - Don't you go on holidays to destinations that are heavily advertized, where there is no visa regime and where many of your compatriots have already been to and loved it?

      To me it seems like you are desperately trying to bring Serbia down and to downplay the actual chain of events and how they will benefit the Serbian Republic.

      Better luck next time.

    6. Anonymous20:30

      1. No idea, but does that make your assumption more true?
      2. No idea, but does that make your assumption more true?
      3. I tend to visit the place I want to see, but surely advertising has an influence on me.

      I'm merely posing questions. I am not stating that my view is true.
      It is much more likely that more Chinese will visit because of previous experiences and the visa-free regime, your video story just does't convince me.

      If you would have read the rest of my comment, then you would have read that I'm more than willing to believe that more Chinese people will visit Serbia.

      I'm just questioning the way YOU use the data of this video. This has nothing to do with Serbia, and what I do or do not want it to achieve. This is unfortunately the Ex-Yu syndrome we all suffer from. We cannot take a simple question, because we see it as an attack on everything we stand for.

      If we would focus on the things that unite us, we would all prosper much more than we do now.

  16. Anonymous11:42

    I wish JU the best. Yesterday they released a policy where you can buy a ticket and rebook whenever you want without any limits on the number of rebookings at no extra charge.

    1. Anonymous12:30

      many, if not most companies have these rules for almost a month now and the devil is in the detail:
      Yes, you are allowed to rebook at no extra charge, but, the rebooking fees are usually not that high, e.g. average ticket price of 300 euro flexible return ticket on LH Group and the rebooking fee is 70 Euros. But, when you rebook you also have to pay the fare difference, and this is what the companies do not tell you. So, if you want to rebook for 5 days later the ticket does not cost 300 anymore, but 500 euro and sure the company waives the 70 euro rebooking fee, since it is "at no extra charge", but you still have to pay the 200 euro fare difference by yourself.

    2. Anonymous12:33

      JU has also had this policy for over a month. The thing they changed yesterday is that you can rebook an unlimited amount of times. I think up until now it was just once. You can also choose a voucher or full refund. Still better than OU which still refuses to issue refunds which is borderline crazy.

  17. Anonymous12:44

    It is in situations such as these that we as Serbs have to feel proud to have an airline like Air Serbia. Not only do we finally have an airline with the name Serbia but we also have someone who is slowly making BEG relevant on the map of the world. Once corona is gone, Serbian economy will not be in ashes meaning we can continue living almost like before the crisis. Ok, we won't be able to travel everywhere but most tourist destinations will be open for business. Worst case scenario Greece will be open from mid June so we can go there. Greece is fantastic, friendly place for Serbs, they like us there and we are always welcome. Holidays in Greek islands will also be cheaper this year so why not?

    Unfortunately in our region I see the following:

    1. Aegean will be fine, Greece will never let them go.
    2. Turkish Airlines will, like JU and A3, be back at thriving sooner rather than later.
    3. Tarom will most likely collapse in the next two years, especially as gasto traffic suffers.
    4. YM will stay alive as long as MNE government can afford to save them.
    5. OU I fear they will be gone like JP in the next two years especially with no summer season this year.
    6. LO in BUD will fail unless Orban gives them millions to stay there. BUD will suffer from corona as tourism will be dead.
    7.Blueair will most likely go bankrupt, they were losing money even before corona.
    8. Wizz will probably considerably reduce ex yu flying for the next two years.

    1. Anonymous16:27

      Orban Is looking forward to resurrecting MA.

    2. Anonymous18:21

      - And who is that someone who is slowly making BEG relevant on the map of the world?
      BEG is not even in the top 200 airports in the world, and what, 80th in Europe. C'mon man.
      - I like the way you mention that Greece will be open from mid June, but that Croatia has no summer season this year.
      - Greece will never let Aegean go, but OU will be gone in the next two years.
      - As will Tarom collapse in the next two years.
      - JU will benefit from gasto traffic, but not TAROM. Actually JU will be thriving soon.
      - Your post reeks of petty and cheap nationalism.

    3. Anonymous18:39

      Anon 18.21

      What matter is the trends. A few years ago BEG wasn't even in Europe's top 100 yet today it's in top 80s and moving higher and higher every year. That's a fact, not propaganda.

      Greece said itself that it will be open in June while Croatian ministers are saying that the situation is extremely uncertain. That's a fact, not propaganda.

      Are you seriously comparing Greece and Aegean to Croatia and OU? You have to be kidding me.

      Unlike Tarom, JU has a growing number of transfer passengers and their network is far more impressive than Tarom's is. Very simply fact that can be checked online. So JU has more source of business than struggling Tarom does. That's a fact, not propaganda.

      Your post reeks of envy and bitterness as I am sure you feel very bad thinking about JU going back to thriving once this all blows over. For you anything and everything is better than JU and BEG and that's petty nationalism. According to you neither BEG nor JU have anything going for them.

    4. Anonymous20:58

      totally agree anon 18.21
      if you disagree then you r a basher, you hate JU, you hate Serbia and bla bla...
      Such comments are a usual read here, but I believe this lock-down has made things 100x worse... and i don't even want to know what the moods will be like after the upcoming prolonged Easter curfew.

  18. Three years from now none of this squabbling will have made any difference. A vaccine for this virus will have been introduced and the airlines that survive this hiatus will be operating to full capacity - just like after 9/11.

    1. Anonymous13:40

      Many airlines did not survive 11.09

  19. Anonymous18:46

    I just read the comments and ... wow. Just wow. So much negativity and open hate towards Serbia and Air Serbia.

    I am surprised that positive news about Serbia brings out so much negativity on here. Unfortunately some people are still living filled with hate.