Air Serbia vows to “keep fighting” amid Covid difficulties

Air Serbia has said it will not avoid making difficult decisions in order to navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which will in turn improve its operations in the long-term. “Air Serbia is fighting as much as it can in dramatically changed circumstances. We were forced to reduce the scope of our operations due to travel restrictions. We are carefully monitoring all changes and adapting to them. We are working on rationalisation and more efficient organisation. We are doing our best to create revenue and save resources. We are not avoiding difficult decisions, because they will ensure that things become easier over time, that we can move forward even when we’re afraid of what awaits us, because courage is not an absence of fear, but the ability to keep going despite it”, the company said. 

The carrier noted 2020 would have been its best year on record as it had plans to grow its fleet and significantly expand its route network. The carrier was to commence seven new routes this year and significantly boost frequencies. “We are nearing the end of a difficult and challenging year, with which we are parting in circumstances significantly different to those at the beginning of the year. Following major achievements in 2019 and excellent results posted in January and February, the start of the year was very promising for us as a company. We summarised our successes and records, planned further expansion and new destinations. The results achieved were our foundation for optimistic expectations that we would continue in this direction in the future”, the airline said. It added, “Unfortunately, after a strong upward trend, something completely unexpected happened. The coronavirus pandemic paralysed the whole world and had the worst impact on those of use whose lifeblood is flying. Instead of expanding, our imperative became - recovery”. 

Air Serbia recently announced it plans to offer financial incentives to encourage employees to voluntarily resign, with the company seeking to reduce its headcount by some 300 staff members as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, some employees will endure temporary pay cuts, with wages for pilots and cabin crew to be reduced 20% as of this month until March, while staff from lower paygrades will see their monthly income slashed by 15%. Employees which are part of the two lowest paygrades will not have their wages reduced. “The entire aviation industry is going through a series of challenges, facing a significantly reduced scope of operations, and thus revenue too. Air Serbia, like all other companies, is suffering major consequences. We were forced to change our plans, adapt them or leave them for “better times”. We learned that some things are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean that we need to surrender and passively allow circumstances to control us”. 

Air Serbia plans to operate 956 flights this month, down 61.8% compared to December 2019. Seat capacity has been slashed by 61.4% to 108.768.


  1. Anonymous09:03

    What will happen with the new destinations JU planned to launch? Will they happen in 2021?

    1. Anonymous09:06

      Doubt it, they returned a whole bunch of planes.

    2. Anonymous09:08

      What are you talking about? "Whole bunch of planes". They returned two planes and leased another two. Stop talking nonsense.

    3. Anonymous09:08

      They returned also an ATR, retired one B733 and cancelled one A320.

    4. Anonymous09:11

      Again nonsense. They didn't cancel any A320.

      They returned 1 ATR and 1 A320 (leases ran out). They retired 1 B737 which was due for retirement crisis or no crisis.
      They leased 2 A319s which arrived.

      So in total they have 1 aircraft less than before the crisis.

      So can you explain to me how they returned a bunch of planes, when their fleet size is almost the same?

    5. Anonymous09:13

      ^ Just his daily dose of trolling.

    6. Anonymous09:20

      I don't think there is a need to expand so much next year (and it has nothing to do with fleet size since it's more or less the same. 1 B737 less is not even worth the discussion). Next year will be about recovering lost markets. Expansion could happen in 2022 or 2023 depending on market conditions.

    7. Anonymous09:34

      It could happen faster depending on the conditions.

    8. Nemjee09:39

      I think recovery in Serbia will be quite fast, at least faster than average. People are eager to travel (at least from my observation) and I am sure many will go abroad once restrictions are removed. Good first step would be the removal of PCR for MNE so that at least one market could start recovering.
      After all, FZ did increase BEG and they said it themselves that it's mostly locals filling those seats.

      Only time will tell but I am not a pessimist.

    9. Prema izvještaju Fiskalnog savjeta Srbije, kako prenosi Politika, Air Serbia je u ovoj godini napravila gubitak od 200 milijuna eura.
      Isti financijski stručnjaci kažu da kompanija nikada od osnutka nije poslovala pozitivno i dug joj je jedan i pol puta veći od kapitala. Odavno u bankrotu.

    10. Anonymous23:01

      Treba malo uzeti u obzir ko je i sta fiskalni savet pre nego sto trijunfalno prenis njihove izjave.

    11. Nema razloga za trijumf nego za tugu, a ona je pregolema-
      Ali nije bitno, neće propasti. Sve države financiraju svoje kompanije novcem poreznih obveznika, dok se može.

    12. Anonymous00:04

      Osnutak, financiranje, jedna i pol, sve je jasno ko se tako jako brine... Bajo samo se ti brini za avio firmu u tvoj kraju jer nece dugo.

    13. Baja brine o svemu što treba. A gore je naslov Ex yu

    14. Baja brine o svemu što treba. A gore je naslov Ex yu

  2. Anonymous09:04

    We will keep on supporting them no matter what especially as they bring thousands of tourists.

  3. Anonymous09:05

    That was deep

  4. Anonymous09:13

    That doesn't sound very optimistic.

    1. Anonymous09:14

      There isn't much space for optimism in the aviation industry at the moment.

    2. Anonymous09:20

      True, I am afraid things are going to get worse before starting to improve.

    3. Anonymous10:14

      I honestly believe that the situation will start improving in next 3-4 months

  5. Anonymous09:16

    I dont undertand why they dont renew their fleet now even if it is a pandemia going on?
    The government of Serbia will support them and one way is to negotiate new leasing contracts and planes.
    Maybe are they doing something that we dont know so much about but still...just wondering.

    1. Anonymous09:17

      It has already been written and they already said they renegotiated almost all aircraft leasing contracts.

    2. Anonymous09:24

      Do you know if it is for all existing Aircrafts or is it for new ones also?

    3. Anonymous09:25

      Too expensive for small unprofitabile eastern european carrier. No one in the region has money for it.

    4. Nemjee09:40

      Aegean is in our region so obviously there are those who have the money for it. Blueair is also getting some brand new MAX aircraft.

    5. Anonymous09:55

      Aegean Airlines and Blue Air are not small at all. Aegean airlines carriers 3 times more passengers then all ex-yu carriers together. And it is highly profitabile private owned investment. Their fleet expansion is the largest private sector investment in Greece. Its a big company, with big profits. Blue Air in 2018. carried 5.2 million passengers. Same as YM, OU and JU together in 2019. And is also private owned, they reported 15 million € in profit last year. Big difference between these airlines and JU which only can make "profit" with anual state aid of 20+ mil. €.

    6. Anonymous09:56

      Just to add, when i said region i tought about ex-yu.

    7. Nemjee09:59

      That's not what you wrote in your comment though, please be more clear the next time you are trying to throw mud at JU.

      You said no one in our region has the money for it, a statement that is obviously wrong.

    8. Anonymous10:04

      JU has no money for it. There is no "throwing mud" in this common sense.

    9. Anonymous10:06

      "it for new ones also"
      If they have a money for new aircraft, why they cannceled A320neo order or they need more state aid this year?

    10. Anonymous10:08

      Regardless of needing money, I believe the A320neo cancellation was the right thing. First the aircraft is too big for JU, second imagine what they would do now with all these planes. There is a reason they are shifting more and more towards A319.

    11. Anonymous10:18

      Ignore them nemjee, even though it been over 7 years they still can not make peace that JU is not going anywhere.

    12. Anonymous10:31

      Wow, great argument anon 10:18!!! When you dont have nothing to say, then you call people "trolls" and "haters".

    13. Anonymous10:37

      So calling an ex-yu airline ''small and unprofitable'' means throwing mud at it? Some people really are deluded

    14. Anonymous10:38

      The region obviously includes Greece and Romania.

      Ex-Yu no longer exists.

      That wasn't a 'region' but a state, a federation.

    15. Anonymous10:41

      Well if JU is small then what is OU then? How come you never use similar adjectives to describe them? People on here love to throw mud at BEG or JU because they dislike them, that is why these posts are always filled with hysteria.

    16. Anonymous10:55

      Well im writing under Anonymous comment, so in a theory you cannot know what i ever said about OU in previous topics. And yes, JU if i used adjectives "small and unprofitabile" for JU, that doesnt mean im not going to describe OU in the same way when someone says "OU has money for A320neos". And i critisize usually OU a lot. I think they are doing far more terrible job then JU, and they should change tactics, or better to say, make tactics.

      Anon 10:38
      Exyu exists, because it is literaly a word which deseibes all states which were under Yugosalvia, which no longer exists. Thats why is ex.

    17. Anonymous19:40

      Ex-Yu exists, region in the aviation terms means South-East Europe + Slovenia & Hungary.

    18. Anonymous19:40

      Saying 'region' and implying former Yugoslavia is utterly stupid.

      Region of what?

    19. Anonymous09:56

      Ok, they say that to all of media outlets how they supid are when they say "region" and think about ex-yu.

  6. Good morning! What is the current fleet of Air Serbia now? Thanks a lot!

    1. Anonymous09:27

      1 A330-200
      2 B737-300
      1 A320
      11 A319
      5 ATR72

    2. Anonymous09:31

      Good morning!
      JU fleet:
      2xB737 (Aviolet)

    3. Anonymous10:09

      The biggest in ex-Yu

    4. Anonymous10:12

      Wow. We really didnt know that!!! You have the biggest one!!

    5. Anonymous10:14

      Competition is big

    6. Anonymous10:15

      I didnt knew that.

    7. Anonymous10:18

      Big in comparasion to Druk Airs. In comparasion to RO, LO, OU, OS, A3, LH... not so.

    8. Anonymous10:19

      Not only the biggest in ex YU but also the most proactive one.

    9. Anonymous10:25

      Ah Anon 10.18 what would this blog be without your daily dose of bitterness. Also JU is bigger than both OU and RO.

    10. Anonymous10:27

      When you realize ''biggest fleet'' is irrelevant for ex-yu with 3 airlines so you have to find something else

    11. Anonymous10:29

      Ah what would be this blog without people who critisize everyone who say JU is not "the biggest", "the best", "the most superior". And no, JU is not bigger then RO, same as JU has not the biggest competiton. Sorry, it might hurts, but you cannot go against facts.

    12. Anonymous10:34

      Anon 10:27

    13. Anonymous10:39

      Revenue in 2019:

      RO: €315 million
      JU: €352 million

      RO: 25
      JU: 20

      Passenger numbers in 2018:
      RO: 2.85
      JU: 2.48 (2.81 in 2019)

      RO: 52 including charters
      JU: 63

      Profit loss in 2019:
      RO: €35.8 million loss (up from -23 million)
      JUL €9.5 million profit

      So overall JU seems to be doing better especially when you look at the size/revenue ratio.

    14. Anonymous10:58

      I never mentioned revenue or profitability of RO. It is larger company then JU. I might have less destinations, but it has more frequencies. Same as OU has larger route network then both of them, but OU is not larger at all in comparasion to JU.

    15. Anonymous11:00

      But OU simply does not have a larger route network than either of them...

    16. Anonymous11:01

      It has.

    17. Anonymous11:04

      Ok, can you tell me how many destinations does OU fly to. Or annual number of operated flights.

    18. Anonymous11:04

      I can prove you it has if you want.

    19. Anonymous11:05

      Yes, please

    20. Anonymous11:27

      So i said OU has larger route network then JU and RO. So not a number of destinations or operated flights, but number of routes.

      OU operates next domestic routes: ZAG-SPU, ZAG-DBV, ZAG-BWK, ZAG-PUY-ZAD, ZAD-PUY, SPU-DBV, SPU-OSI, OSI-DBV, DBV-PUY. So its 9 routes on which you can buy tickets on scheduled flights.

      From ZAG OU operates flights to 24 international destination so its 24 routes.

      From RJK OU operates single international route to MUC so its 1 route.

      From PUY OU operates two international routes so its 2 routes.

      From ZAD OU operates single international route to FRA so its 1 route.

      From SPU OU operates 14 international routes.

      From DBV OU operates 9 international routes.

      So its 60 routes overall.

      JU operates 44 out of BEG+2 out of KVO +11 out of INI=57. Not a large difference, but its probably the only thing in numbers where OU is better then JU (of course we will not count who has more flights to FRA lol).

    21. Anonymous11:33

      So your route network out of BEG is not correct as you used Wikipedia to count the number of JU routes, which no longer includes the destinations which were discontinued when covid hit, while you used OU data which has pre covid destinations listed. So you didn't count destinations such as Helsinki, Cairo, Beirut...

    22. Anonymous11:43

      Well if i used 2019. It would be 48 out of BEG + 11 out of Nis. And OU would still have DBV-AMS route. Next year JU has more routes.

    23. Anonymous11:47

      It would still be more if he counted 2019. there would be no flights out of morava while OU would have DBV-PUY-AMS route.

    24. Anonymous11:53

      Well said anon 11:33h!

      It seems "da je ekspert pobrkao loncice" :-)

    25. Anonymous11:54

      Your comparisons by counting routes on your finger are highly inaccurate (btw Air Serbia launched Kraljevo flights in 2019 - so another wrong info from you). Also the problem is that for one airline you are using up to date information while for the other you are using outdated information.

      At the end of the day OU operated 28.432 flights in 2019, Air Serbia operated 33.322 flights.

    26. Anonymous11:56

      First flight from Morava airport was in 2019

    27. Anonymous11:57

      They were not in a summer timetable by Air Serbia at all. And i dont see why are you mentioning numbers of flights?

    28. Anonymous11:58

      Chill, just chill.

    29. Anonymous12:03

      OU was 62 back in 2019.
      JU was 60 back in 2019.
      Where is the problem?

    30. Anonymous12:03

      No problem, just info is incorrect :)

    31. Anonymous12:05

      Ok, im sorry, if i didnt used real all 2019.timetable.

    32. GROW UP!!!
      And realize finally that all 3 ex-yu carriers are totally insignificant in terms of fleet size and routes and destinations numbers, and created and kept alive as political projects paid by poor tax payers.

    33. Anonymous12:20

      I know that these carriers are insignificant on the workd map, but i dont see any problem why i wouldnt post some infos who says different then other commentators?

    34. Anonymous12:23

      You can, just use correct data.

  7. Anonymous09:35

    Very difficult time is coming, as the situation gets worse in Serbia, many Gastos countries will introduce Qarantine when flying back to those countries (Austria, Switzerland....)

    1. Anonymous09:42

      Market conditions change constantly. In October, Israelis were the number 1 visitors to Serbia. Over 18,000 arrived at BEG.

    2. Anonymous09:42

      And the above is according to official statistics, not my guess.

  8. Anonymous09:43

    I'm really wondering what their long term strategy will be.

    1. Anonymous16:30

      expand quickly as soons as covid passes. take over established and new market.

  9. Anonymous09:55

    " We learned that some things are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean that we need to surrender and passively allow circumstances to control us"

    Interesting, maybe a hint that they have some serious plans for the near future.

  10. Anonymous09:56

    What happened with all those government announcement how it is the right time to lease a new plane and even to launch flights to China?

    1. Anonymous09:56

      These announcements were made during the corona crisis

    2. Anonymous10:39

      Like someone said, the situation changes every day. Most people thought corona would be gone in a month or two, but here were are.

    3. Anonymous11:21

      It will never be gone.

  11. Anonymous12:09

    Really tough times for airlines. Today JU only 10 departures from BEG. Jeeezzz that was their morning wave during winter times. Really really depressing. I mean, it is like that all over the world.
    Real question-as real "regional" competitor, based on fleet size and airport size, I see only Austrian. And it is getting weak. Should the first post-Covid step for JU be leasing of 2-3 additional A330s and introducing two more American destinations (Chicago, Miami, Havana) with winter leisure (Dom.Republic?) and few Asian destinations (Shanghai/Beijing, Haneda, Singapore) with winter leisure (Thailand, Sanya...)?
    I do not know...all parts of network are collapsing again, restrictions are everywhere...Serbs can only go to Turkey and Bosnia without test and it is really really hard
    Well, I assume, we just have to sit and wait for vaccine.
    But again, what should be first post-Covid steps?
    Regional expansion? Bare survival? Intercontinentals?

    1. Anonymous12:23

      Here we go again.... long haul out of Serbia despite even JFK losing money. And why do you see only real "regional" competitor Austrian based on fllet and airport size? JU is more on the level of OU and RO, then on the level of 4 times larger OS and 6 times larger VIE.

    2. Anonymous12:29

      Austrian is far bigger then JU.

    3. Anonymous12:36

      Will you fly with JU to MIA? Are you happy to pay, say, 200 euro more for the comfort of a direct flight instead of transferring in, say, FRA? No? Thank you. Here is your answer.

    4. Anonymous18:44

      Why would it be 200€ more?!

    5. Anonymous18:49

      Because this is how the hub & spoke model works... In principle, you pay more for a direct flight than for a transfer one.

    6. I never understood why it is cheaper to fly via a transfer city (hub) rather than direct. For example, If someone in WAW wants to fly to JFK -- is it cheaper for them to fly to BEG (assuming JU still flew to WAW) and catch their connecting flight to JFK? And is the reverse also true? Someone from BEG flies to WAW and catches LOTs connecting flight to JFK -- is cheaper than JUs direct flight to JFK.

      I always thought one flight is cheaper than two.

    7. Anonymous20:05

      Taking your example, if you fly BEG-WAW-JFK-WAW-BEG you pay much less than flying WAW-JFK-WAW. In non-corona times, I would expect the difference in price be like 30-40%.

      It would even be much cheaper from a pax perspective to fly WAW-KRK-JFK-KRK-WAW or WAW-BUD-JFK-BUD-WAW all on LO, than direct.

      And of course it would be much cheaper to fly JU: WAW-BEG-JFK-BEG-WAW (assuming, as you did that JU would fly to WAW).

      One flight is cheaper for the airline, but not for pax. Pax should pay for its comfort more.

    8. Thanks for the reply but you didn't say why it's cheaper. And especially 30-40% cheaper, that's a lot.

      Why is one flight cheaper for the airline, but not the pax?

    9. Anonymous21:10

      My understanding is that on that way transfer company tries to "steal" the passengers who would usually fly direct route by offering him lower price.

      For example BEG-WAW-JFK is cheaper than BEG-JFK as LO knows that particular passenger without attractive price would never buy their ticket. By offering cheaper price LO gets the passenger on two of their flights and in the opposite case that passenger would not enter LO aircraft.

    10. Anonymous21:20

      An airline wants to charge you as much as they only can. A direct flight is something unique, that in most cases only they can offer from a given airport. Many people will opt for this, because of comfort and reliability. If you are an airline, why not use this quasi monopoly and charge more from a pax that wants to fly direct? This is a separate market segment "owned" by this single airline. It has nothing to do with the real cost of the direct flight for an airline, that is actually much lower than the actual cost for an airline of a transfer pax.

      A transfer flight is something, where in most cases you have abundance of choices. There is competition that lowers the price.

      Back to your example, if I want to fly from WAW to JFK, I only have one choice and this is LO. They know it and in non-corona times they will use this opportunity to make me pay dearly. And believe me, there will be a sufficient number of people in non-corona times that will agree to pay a price that is 30-40% higher than for an indirect flight from WAW to JFK and LO will not care about the pax from WAW that cannot afford this price, just leaving them to competition.

      And if I decide I cannot afford the price for a direct ticket, in non-corona times I have a variety of choices for flying indirect. I might go via MUC, FRA, CDG, VIE, AMS, CPH, LHR and more. These airlines compete between themselves purely on price, so the prices in this segment of the market are much lower. And pls remember they all have (or at least should have) a huge part of their aircraft filled with pax flying direct from their hubs and they charge the direct pax of theirs dearly as well. They have no mercy for them just like LO in WAW has no mercy for their direct pax.

      If you don't believe me, two questions:

      According to the website of WAW airport, in 2018 (but the figures repeat themselves year by year):

      * the number of pax flying indirect from WAW to/from JFK/EWR was 72.000 and this despite LO having in total up to three daily to those airports and having at least one flight to these airports on every single day of the year ----> why LO does not care?

      * the number of pax flying indirect from WAW to/from BKK was 76.000 (not even including pax flying indirect on the route to BKK from other LO's stongholds like KRK, GDN, WRO etc.) - LO has no service to BKK ----> why LO does not care?

    11. Anonymous21:23

      To anon 21:10:

      I basically agree, except that the fact they are on two aircraft of course does not matter. It just increases the costs for the transfer airline.

      Have a nice day,

      anon 18:49, 20:05, 21:20

    12. Anonymous21:33

      Lets not forget that empty seat is the most expensive one

    13. Thanks for the explanations guys. I kind of figured most of what was written, but Anon @ 21:20 explaned it well.

  12. Anonymous12:12

    Oh, I would like to be ASL crew member and receive 80% of my salary, mostly spend time at home, or perhaps fly once weekly, or twice monthly...

    1. Anonymous12:59

      You wouldn't be as happy if you had a family to support or a mortgage to pay off that's based on your previous (normal) income. You also wouldn't be happy to wake up every day worrying when this will pass and if you'll be made redundant. What would clearly make you happy getting paid for no work, which is a very typical Balkan mindset and probably the reason why you're unsuccessful in life and instead spewing hate on the hard-working JU crew as an anonymous poster on some Internet blog.

    2. Anonymous18:40

      Mr.Vlad, not everyone is like the one you answered, so please, don't insult people from the Balkans emphasizing what is a very typical Balkan mindset! Would Emirates or some other airline took pity on your cries? And here you expect people to feel sorry for the loss of your income and privileges? BTW, my friends still remember a lot of evil in Jat airways 2013/14. Happiness is not built by causing someone else’s misfortune. Everything comes back, everything pays off.

  13. Anonymous15:07

    Will be interesting to see what the future holds for JU. My guess is EY partnership will end. This won't be any major loss as it's just a formal partnership but what happens after will be interesting.

    1. Eventual Skyteam Alliance.

    2. Anonymous17:18

      Problem with Skyteam is that they have no presence in Canada. USA is covered with Delta.

  14. Anonymous15:17

    JU can rest assured that the government will keep pumpung money.

    1. Anonymous15:19

      Are you sure? Air Serbia had to change its entire business model and restructure just 3 yrs ago. Obviously government did not want to continue pumping limitless amounts.

    2. Anonymous20:51

      33 mil EUR received at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020
      58 mil EUR received as pandemic help in 2020

      No...It is not the money pumped in JU. I wonder who go it :-)

    3. Anonymous09:59

      The first one is for OU not JU. OU got 15 million at the end on 2019., while JU got 19.7.

  15. Anonymous15:41

    The last sentence shows us how bad the situation is.

  16. Anonymous22:21

    This doesn't look good at all:

    Despite this fact, I hope they will overcome all the hurdles and recover their markets.

  17. Anonymous00:14

    Sizable diaspora will be eager to visit Serbia in 2021 after skipping it this year. Together with pent up demand for outbound tourism, better economic outlook in the country and better connectivity than most competitors, Air Serbia will be quicker than others to come out the slump in the next year.

    1. Anonymous00:59

      Agreed on all points. They could also be aggressive and try ti seize new markets fast.

  18. Anonymous04:52

    600 million euros (and counting) of taxpayers' money thrown into black hole called Air Serbia...

    1. Anonymous05:32

      You are wrong, Air Serbia is worth every cent.


Post a Comment

EX-YU Aviation News does not tolerate insults, excessive swearing, racist, homophobic or any other chauvinist remarks or provocative posts with the intention of creating further arguments. A full list of comment guidelines can be found here. Thank you for your cooperation.