Belgrade - Toronto flights “top priority”


The Serbian President and the Canadian Ambassador to the country have held talks with both sides concluding that the establishment of nonstop flights between the two nations is the one of their highest priorities. In a joint statement, the two said, “We express hope that nonstop flights between Belgrade and Toronto will be launched shortly, which would not only improve economic ties but connectivity between Serbia and Canada as well. The Serbian diaspora in Canada serves as an important bridge between the two countries”. In October last year, the now former Canadian Ambassador to Serbia, Kati Csaba, said the two countries were in advanced talks over the introduction of flights between Belgrade and Toronto, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Serbia and Canada signed a new Air Service Agreement in late 2018, paving the way for flights. At the time, the Canadian Embassy in Belgrade said services would begin in either 2019 or 2020. “The Embassy is in talks with Air Serbia so we can gauge their interest and we believe the route has great potential. There is a large Serbian diaspora in Canada, but these flights would also be very useful for the business community”, the Embassy said two years ago. Last February it noted services could begin “one of these days”. Toronto's Pearson Airport confirmed in 2018 that it too held talks with Air Serbia over the resumption of flights between Belgrade and Canada's largest city. "We will continue to work with Air Serbia to find an opportunity to add Toronto Pearson as one of their newest travel destinations", the airport said.

Flights between Serbia and Canada were last operated twelve years ago by leisure carrier Skyservice, which has since gone bankrupt. During the 1970s and 1980s, JAT Yugoslav Airlines maintained services from Belgrade to Toronto and Montreal. Air Serbia’s predecessor, Jat Airways, conducted a study in late 2005 based on which it estimated it could carry up to 83.000 passengers to Toronto annually. The airline anticipated an average cabin load factor of 74% on a Boeing 767 and believed the flights would appeal primarily to diaspora travellers, as well as transfer passengers from the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, western Romania, southern Hungary and the Middle East. The Serbian government recently said Air Serbia may use lower aircraft leasing rates to acquire an additional jet, although it did not specify the type.


Comments

  1. Anonymous09:02

    Toronto has huge ex-yu and Balkan diaspora. I hope Air Serbia sees the potential in these flights.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous09:03

    It is good moment now to get YU-ARB for Canada and China flights

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:11

      Why exactly?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:22

      Because leases are dirt cheap right now.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous09:03

    The major issue with YYZ from BEG is seasonality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:07

      That's where transfers come into play.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous09:03

    Not gonna happen anytime soon. Unless of course Ju stats the flights which they could have done before.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous09:05

    What the Serbian Government does not seem to undestand is that leasing rates are low, because no airline wants aircraft BECAUSE there is no demand and will be much less in the middle term. IATA and others are not just saying that to lower aircraft leases, which then in turn no one leases but all try to reduce their fleets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:08

      Serbian government also sees how successful JFK is becoming. Are you aware that BEG-JFK was beating economic forecasts at JU for about two years now? It means that the route is showing better than expected results.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:18

      Yes they should then immidiately expand JFK to daily and restore all other flights.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:23

      No need, JFK at the moment has enough capacity, you don't want to jeopardize your good performance by dumping seats on the market.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous09:06

    As much as I am annoyed by these news that keep resurfacing every few months... And as crazy as it may seem to open a new route in the middle of the world wide lockdowns, here is my take.

    AC Rouge and Transat are not going to fly YYZ ZAG flights this year. There is a huge diaspora of ex-yu folks living in and around Toronto and Ontario that it may not be a bad idea. Serbia is not hit hard by lockdowns and Canada will eventually ease their rules as the spring arrives.

    Who knows... I could be totally wrong but I say give it a shot! Be brave and if it works great, if it doesn't close the route and move on somewhere else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:20

      Why do you exactly think YYZ ZAG is not going to be flown this year? And what of your arguments will be different in the BEG YYZ case?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:28

      Because markets are different. ZAG is mostly there for tourists and God knows what the tourist season will look like. On the other hand, JU launching YYZ would be mostly for ethnic travelers, same as JFK. Different type of markets.

      There might be some tourism demand from Canada to Croatia but it might not be enough to sustain non-stop flights. It might shift to one stop flights via VIE, FRA, MUC, AMS... especially since most of airlines from those hubs fly to the coast. ZAG will be bypassed.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:33

      Do not agree, simply because tourists are not travelling because they do not want, but because of the strict entry regulations which apply to all pax regardless of what purpose they are travelling for. Even if diaspora is flying a bit more it is still a lot less than before the pandemic, which make the flights not sustainable in a time where airlines need to keep money in house.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:37

      Decent performance of BEG-JFK is a good example that it might work the same for YYZ.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous08:29

      @Anonymous09:20

      Because exyu wrote the article about it few days ago, saying Rouge is pulling out this year from ZAG.

      Air Transat is grounded until April 30th and in fact the acquisition (and approval from Canadian government) by Air Canada was just announced a week ago. So that rules pretty much any hopes of Zagreb this summer. Unfortunately, as I admit it was a great route for both AT and AC but now it leaves a vaccume for JU to try out

      Delete
  7. Anonymous09:10

    Let's face it, JU will be operating this route wheever it happens. The real question now is how big are the Greek and Albanian communities in Toronto? These guys are as important as the Serbs. They are a key market for any new JU route across the pond.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both are really big with Greek community I’d say the biggest after Italian of all European nations. There is a sizable Albanian community as well.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous07:38

      That's good news for JU especially since they are well known in both Greece and Albania thanks to their existing network.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous09:10

    Carrier from which side is interested in starting the service: Canada or Serbia? Or both?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous09:14

    JU može pokušati ovog leta sa 2 nedeljna leta. JFK smanjiti na 4X,što će verovatno biti dovoljno s obzirom da se situacija sa pandemijom sigurno neće srediti do kraja godine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:38

      Sudeći po potezima Lufthanse, Emiratesa, Air Francea, Britisha, Cantaya vrlo brzo se očekuje oporavak... Ljudi su željni putovanja, nikalo ne može biti kao prošle godine loše.

      Delete
    2. JATBEGMEL14:33

      JU is already selling tickets for 5 pw (ex Tuesdays and Sundays, starting June 14th).

      JU also has split schedules for JFK which means YYZ will be the same in the 1 ac scenario.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous09:15

    Good signal from the embassy. I really hope flights meaterialise sooner rather than later.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous09:16

    What combinations do passengers from Canada primarily use to reach BEG and vice verse?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:20

      I guess LH Group and AC

      Delete
  12. Anonymous09:20

    I hope this materializes. It would be fantastic to be linked with Canada in addition to USA.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous09:20

    They should really capitalize on the opportunity that most western airlines have reduced operations to Canada.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:36

      Why have all the western airlines reduced reduced operations and eastern airlines not?

      Delete
  14. Anonymous09:20

    Air Serbia really needs to join one of the three major alliances if they want more North America flyers and destinations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:24

      Why? Alliances are death for smaller carriers who are not interested in being mere feeder airlines.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:38

      Alliances are a good thing espacially for smaller carriers, since they can offer the whole network via a hub instead of fighting with the big ones with a one or two weekly.

      If you cannot beat them- join them!

      Delete
    3. Yeah, right, pay them to feed them. If OU had started doing decade ago what JU is doing now, it would have chances, long term. Like this, they are dead man walking...

      Delete
    4. Anonymous12:37

      My thoughts exactly. I fear now it's too late for them as they are fully integrated into the LH Group system.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous09:26

    Long overdue in my opinion. However I hope they further boost their regional flying. I can see some destinations like Tirana permanently losing the ATR in favor of something larger like the A319.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JATBEGMEL14:50

      It would help if the regional fares were not soo high to stimulate O&D demand. It usually starts around 8.500 RSD one way without luggage!

      In comparison, return GVA at the moment is around 6.500 din, BER can be found for 8.400 din return!

      Delete
  16. Anonymous09:32

    This would be bad news for OS and VIE. Balkans were their playground for decades now. When JU launched JFK that's when they started reducing their presence there. Losing Serbian and a great deal of Albanian and Montenegrin passengers surely affected them. Not only did they before covid reduce JFK in terms of frequencies but the B767 became standard equipment.
    With covid they moved to EWR (B767) and have not announced a firm date return to JFK.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous09:41

    Is there any airline in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary or Romania to fly directly to Canada?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:45

      Rouge used to fly to OTP but I don't think they will be back now when their long-haul planes are gone. Maybe Transat steps in. They fly to BUD, well they did before corona.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:47

      Air Canada and Transat.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:57

      Thank you.

      BEG surely has good chance to open 2 long haul destinations (YYZ and PVG) with one, newly leased widebody plane and to count on transfer passengers from Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, N.Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia etc.

      I assume flights to BUD are/were mostly for P2P passengers as there was no air carrier with AC or Transat code-share to bring them to BUD from above mentioned countries.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous11:20

      GullivAir plans YYZ flights from SOF and OTP from summer 2021. They should announce their plans within the end of March. They should receive their second A332 by the end of this month and the 3rd one bu the end of April.

      Delete
    5. JATBEGMEL14:52

      Lets see what Guliv will end up accomplishing. BH Air also had A332's and North American ambitions but abandoned them in the end.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous09:46

    I hope some serious discussions with JU have started. It will benefit the Serbian diaspora.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous09:46

    A market they could get quite a lot of feed from for YYZ is Macedonia. That is if they offer some competitive prices and good connections.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous09:48

    If Air Serbia were to eventually launch these flights, a codeshare with Air Canada would be very beneficial and would guarantee more passengers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:55

      Air Canada codeshares with Lufthansa to Belgrade.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:59

      True they are Star Alliance.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:59

      Do they? I believe the current FRA-BEG flight is only codeshared by United.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:05

      JU and AC have an interline agreement to my knowledge.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous10:05

      On LH web page there are no more information about code share flights but on BEG site there is still code share for UA,SK and AC for afternoon flights and only SK and UA code share for evening flights.

      Delete
    6. Anon 10:05

      As far as I know that interline was canceled summer 2019

      Delete
  21. Anonymous09:55

    Starting a new long haul route in the middle of a pandemic would make no sense

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:58

      Sometimes a crisis provides an opportunity. Plane leasing rates are down, airport slots are available, airport costs are down. Perhaps they could get a good deal. Look at how well New York is performing despite the virus.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous09:56

    This route would be good for cargo too.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous10:05

    To me it would make more sense to launch Chicago before Toronto.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. There are only 25000 serbs in Toronto, and in Chicago there are 300.000 serbs.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous12:39

      ORD is too far to make it there and back in 24 hours. It would be impossible to make good connections. VIE-ORD is around 10.30 hours so BEG would be, flying time, around 11.15 (at least).

      Delete
    3. @anon 12:39
      That makes sense, thanks for explanation

      Delete
    4. I think that there is a lot more “new” immigrants in Toronto and area compared to Chicago. If that’s true, this segment has a tendency to travel back home lot kore often.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous07:40

      Chicago is also a dying city. It's economy is fading away and people are leaving the city. For a few years now Chicago has been experiencing a decrease in population. I think Toronto is a better fit.

      Delete
  24. Anonymous10:05

    JU should launch 3 weekly in summer season, and 2 weekly in winter.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous10:05

    Can Air Serbia make NYC and Toronto work with 1 plane?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:19

      No

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:34

      In winter yes, but in the summer they can't.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:46

      It can be done it all depends on the frequency i.e 3+3; 4+2, 3+2 all these combinations are possible ... so the answer is yes it can be done even in summer but QTY depends on each frequency.

      Delete
  26. Anonymous10:06

    Great news :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous10:18

    About time.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous10:19

    With one A330 this would be suicide. You can not shrink JFK in summer to less than 5 pw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:20

      If these flights launch I doubt it will be before summer 2022.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:20

      Obviously they would acquire a second plane. The government hinted at that too.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous10:28

      Wasn't the government hinting at flights to China rather than Canada?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous11:06

      Obviously both

      Delete
    5. Anonymous17:53

      China flights would probably be operated by Chinese company. I think JU has no interest in China flights due to a long rotation time.

      Delete
  29. Great news, I just don’t see it how is this route priority over China flight?
    Shanghai is a must.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anonymous10:34

    I will believe it when I see it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous11:12

    Air Serbia needs to get second longhaul plane.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous11:46

    Canada might first want to lift visa restrictions. Currently Croatians and Slovenes Don't need one and all EU citizens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Visa is the last concern to lunch air service between Serbia and Canada . USA has way more strict process to get the visa and flights are packed . It is actually a great time to test the market as bunch of airlines canceled or downsized YYZ operation due to most restricted regulations in the World . Those restrictions are going to be lifted in a few months , therefore YU should react fast and offer BEG as a small CNX base for that part of the Europe when comes to YYZ flights . They already have interline agreements with AC and WJ in Canada .

      Delete
  33. I would stop leasing YU-ARA and lease two newer aircrafts (5-7 years old). One for NYC and another for Beijing and Toronto.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:52

      The A350 would be ideal aircraft or the A330neo as well. TAP use them.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:05

      Air Serbia is not in a position to finance brand new aircraft.

      Delete
    3. JATBEGMEL14:16

      There was a rumour ARA was being replaced with 2 ex SU A332's.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:23

      Yes, they're coming from Aeroflot.

      Delete
  34. Anonymous12:13

    JU is replacing ARA with another A330.
    It would be cool if they would keep the current one and expand to other markets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:22

      The Indians didn't want to budge on the lease rates.

      Delete
  35. George Dedic14:28

    Here comes our monthly game of 'compare and contrast' the 'three C' long haul routes from Belgrade- Canada, China and Chicago. It's always a lively and interesting discussion but nothing seems to ever eventuate unfortunately. Especially now with covid, perhaps it's best we park this for a few months...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous14:49

      Well how long were we discussing JFK and they eventually happened. With JU having long-haul flights makes it easier.

      Delete
  36. Anonymous15:08

    It was reported here that Air Serbia had approvals to start flying to Canada long time ago. What was Air Serbia waiting for? Or is the wait for an airline from Canada?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous22:39

      Flying to Toronto is quite expensive. I believe Toronto Airport is one of the most expensive airports in the world. They were building up a strong transfer network (5 new routes were to launch in 2020 on top of the 9 in 2019). I assume flights would have begun this year but then corona happened.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous22:52

      Airport fees at YYZ are very high, not sure about in the world, but probably highest in Canada.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous00:12

      Air Serbia keeps dragging their feet

      Delete
    4. YYZ is very expensive. JU might be able to negotiate a good rate now under Covid or pick another Canadian destination

      Delete
  37. Anonymous16:17

    300 000 Serbs in Chicago hahahaha

    ReplyDelete
  38. Everyone needs to relax. Toronto is coming. Followed by Shanghai and Chicago. Air Serbia has good leadership. Nothing good can be accomplished by rushing sound long term planning.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I fly BEG-YYZ every few months and notice that there is always a number of transfer passengers following me to the YYZ gate in FRA, CDG, ZRH, MUC and WAW a few months ago. Transfer passengers from Ex-Yu will be a must, just like with JFK.

    If YYZ is too expensive then they can always opt for YWG ;)

    Kidding aside, it's a great idea that would have additional benefits beyond simply tourism, but also open the door for business, exports and even strengthen diplomatic ties. YYZ is also a great hub for cheap transfers to Mexico and Cuba in the winter.

    ORD is also a must and will not need to rely as much on transfers from the Ex-Yu.

    There are two big obstacles for the diaspora in YYC,YVR, YUL flying to BEG; 1. It's a hassle to transfer and wait up to 5 hours; 2. Direct flights from YYZ to the U.S. and other holiday destinations are WAYYYY cheaper. (Transfer flights cost more with additional airport fees). A direct flight is cheaper, faster and convenient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous22:46

      How much would you pay more to fly direct to BEG from YYZ, as opposed to transferring in Europe? Curious, since you fly so often.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous23:17

      For me, I would pay up to $100 more for direct flight. But if traveling with family of 4 would not go direct. better save the $400 for some burek and chevaps everyday there. ;-)

      Delete
    3. Anonymous08:33

      I would pay even 400$ for entire family just to avoid connecting through with small kids! :) life is too short, opportunity like this would be worth it every penny. Life if too short, we burn money on more stupid things every year. Haha

      Delete
    4. I would certainly be happy to pay more for a direct flight. Imagine how much I would save not spending money at other airports while waiting for the transfer flight. Less hassle of boarding/deplaning twice, not going through security twice and not taking that bus at FRA when getting off the flight. Plus no sneers from the LF staff or airport staff of superiority for JU passengers. On the way to BG I often looked around at the other gates around my flight and see that they stick the Ex-Yu passengers at the absolutely most run down part of the airport. (before the new FRA airport opened)

      In CDG there is that 2 km walk and bus ride to the other terminal/gates. Don't get me started on LHR - where you leave your dignity at the door of the aircraft when you step out. The list goes on and on.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous15:11

      Why do you have to spend money while waiting for your connecting flight?

      I have traveled many times over the years on YYZ-BEG and transferred at over ten European airports and never had any sneers from airport/airline staff. I guess I wasn't paying attention to that.

      Delete
  40. Anonymous22:38

    Business links between Canada to South East Europe are constantly growing. Just like in USA.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Anonymous22:38

    Yields to YYZ could probably be better than to JFK.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous22:39

    These flights would benefit the Serbian diaspora.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous22:41

      Amen!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:14

      They would benefit entire Balkan dijaspora.

      Do you realize how many non Croatian nationals flew down to ZAG from Toronto. I know a lot of friends and family who flew down and then rented a car to go to Bosnia or Serbia.

      That's why this route could be a huge success if someome brave enough steps out and try this route!

      Delete
  43. Anonymous00:12

    If JU launches Toronto next year I doubt it will only be Toronto. They will probably launch several other new routes like they did when New York was launched. If I remember correctly they launched 6 routes that summer.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anonymous00:47

    Up to a year ago I was convinced merged AC/TS would launch YYZ-BEG flights. With pandemic, then RV dumping all 767s and merger in limbo I am not so sure any more.

    Overall sentiment in comments points to Air Serbia launching flights but comments are often misleading. It seems Air Serbia was playing hot/cold over the years, showing interest in YYZ and then pulling back.

    If Air Serbia is really interested this time, at least two items remain major obstacles to JU launching flights: JU has only one A330 and that won't do for both JFK and YYZ; and only two weekly flights allowed as per published bilateral. Another A332 is easy to find at fair lease rate (hopefully with denser biz class cabin), but no clue if frequency could be negotiated at 4 or 5pw. If yes, JU could fly daily to JFK and 4-5pw to YYZ in the summer, and use only one aircraft in the winter to cover both destinations at reduced frequencies. Let's see what will actually transpire, reality is often stranger than my fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous01:27

      AS has a chance to corner the Balkan market once this horrid coronavirus passes. But they will have to act fast. Quickly add YYZ & ORD. Along with improved frequencies to as many Balkan cities as they can cover. Good connections, timing, and fair pricing will give them a competitive edge in the region.

      Delete

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