Belgrade Airport seeks to develop long haul network


Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport believes its ongoing multi million euro expansion will provide new opportunities for the development of its long haul network and further boost its number of transfer passengers. Serbia is currently the only market in the former Yugoslavia with nonstop long haul flights throughout the year. Air Serbia has maintained services from Belgrade to New York since June 2016. The government has made attempts to secure additional long haul operations by renegotiating Air Service Agreements with Canada and the United States, as well as conducting talks with Chinese and Indian authorities over potential services. In 2017, Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines introduced flights from Beijing to the Serbian capital via Prague, however, those were short-lived, with the service terminated after one year.

During the pre-pandemic 2019, China (excluding Hong Kong) was the largest long haul market from Serbia based on OAG data, just outperforming the United States, which was followed by Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Singapore. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport’s operator VINCI recently noted, "Finding new markets and improving existing ones is of utmost importance if we want Belgrade Airport to become a point of reference in our region. We need to provide Air Serbia with the tools to offer new routes - especially long and medium haul routes - as part of its hub strategy”. It added, “We are also convinced that the significant development of the airport will support the growth of passenger traffic, especially transfer traffic. The expansion will allow us to transform the airport into a new regional hub and will provide new opportunities for launching long haul routes, such as the one we have to New York”.

Largest long haul markets from Belgrade Airport, 2019


Serbia and China have finalised a mid-term cooperation agreement until 2025 which outlines when individual projects between the two nations will be implemented. Among them is the introduction of nonstop flights, which has been slated for the second half of this year. However, China’s zero-Covid policy and entry restrictions continue to hinder the possibility of potential services. On the other hand, work on establishing flights between Serbia and Canada is advancing according to the Canadian Embassy in Serbia, noting it is now up to airlines to announce when they will commence operations. Canada’s Ambassador to the country, Giles Norman, said, “In May 2018, the governments of Canada and Serbia signed an Air Transport Agreement that put in place the framework in the cases that the aviation sector begins direct flights. The decision on when to launch direct flights is now a business decision, in the hands of the airlines”. He added, “The introduction of a direct flight between Canada and Serbia would be highly welcomed by the large Serbian and regional diaspora in Canada and the midwestern United States, as well as by businesses from both countries”. Air Canada has considered launching operations to Belgrade, however, a restrictive Air Service Agreement, limiting carriers to two weekly flights, is considered a deterrent.

Last month, the Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs held talks with Rahul Bhatia, the founder of India’s largest airline IndiGo, over the potential introduction of flights to Belgrade after the number of Indian arrivals into Serbia increased 168% last year compared to the pre-pandemic 2019. The Foreign Minister noted the launch of nonstop operations from Indian cities to the Serbian capital would further improve business and tourism ties. He added that Air Serbia is interested in cooperating with IndiGo, particularly in regard to flights to third countries.



Comments

  1. Anonymous09:02

    It seems as if they are mostly relying on Air Serbia to develop the long haul network.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:04

      I hope they try to attract others as well. There is only so much JU can do.

      Delete
    2. Nemjee09:08

      It's natural that they are relying on JU since they are their home carrier that already operates year-round long-haul flights.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:09

      They should try and bring Air Astana which flies seasonally to Montenegro. Air Serbia could even codeshare with them and offer connections elsewhere. Kazakhstanis don't need a visa to enter Serbia.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:25

      It makes sense. Frankly, the main player to bring more long-haul traffic to BEG should be JU. Unfortunately, JU is not able to focus towards that direction.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous09:04

    Unfortunately, I don't think we will see much long haul development this year. But in 2023 I think it will be plausible.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous09:06

    Can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous09:07

    Shanghai, Chicago and Toronto would be ideal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:14

      Air Serbia could have launched Chicago if it wanted to without a problem. Even with current 1 A330. But they obviously didn't want to.

      Delete
    2. JATBEGMEL12:44

      @09,14

      Your idea is for JU to reduce JFK just to have ORD on the route map? Low frequencies and lots of destinations is a great way to trash yields.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous09:07

    I think the only long haul routes with potential are Chicago and Toronto. These are quite seasonal too. Everything else is pushing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:44

      I think a lot of people are forgetting how highly seasonal Toronto is.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:49

      Same as New York.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:49

      Flights from Toronto could always be seasonal, like to ZAG.

      Delete
    4. JATBEGMEL12:49

      Problem with Canada is the 2 pw limit. AC and JU may be interested in launching the route but I'm sure the limitations is whats keeping it from happening.

      JU could test a 2 pw flight over the winter period, perhaps launch it in December when JFK is reduced and in time for the holiday rush to boost promotion, and try and push the Canadians to allow more frequencies. However, I doubt the Canadians would approve more frequencies this quickly, as seen in the past.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous09:07

    I think having New York and Beijing would be a good start. Maybe eventually add Toronto and possibly Chicago and that is more than respectable for a Balkan airport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:44

      Please not Beijing again. Shanghai first. It's the most important destination out-there.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:01

      Beijing fits in 24 hour rotation, Shanghai don't.

      Delete
    3. JATBEGMEL12:41

      PEK doesn't really fit the 24 hour rotation either. Flight time is 9 hours outbound, 10:30 return. Plus ground time on top for both ends.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous09:08

    I'm surprised about Hong Kong and Kazakhstan being on the list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:10

      I think Hong Kong is on the list because many from China fly there and then board flights to Europe (BEG). As for Kazakhstan, it is interesting but I'm guessing that visa free regime has something to do with it.

      Delete
    2. Nemjee09:18

      Many Serbian companies are extremely active in Kazakhstan. Lots of them are working in the gas industry so the market is very high yielding. Also, since July 10 2021, Serbia has a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union which Kazakhstan is part of.
      Last month Serbia and Kazakhstan celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations. Serbia opened its embassy over there in 2011 while Kazakhstan did the same in Serbia in 2019.

      That said, economic activity is rather modest and in 2021 Serbian companies exported around $10 million in goods. Kazakh exports to Serbia were less than $5 million.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:24

      Interesting. I wonder which combination people use to get to/from there.

      Delete
    4. Nemjee09:27

      A friend of mine who worked as an engineer on the pipeline used to fly on SU via SVO. Their company had a corporate contract with Aeroflot. I guess it boils down to them and TK.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous10:11

      Wasn't Air Serbia interested in flying to Kazakhstan some time ago?

      Delete
    6. Nemjee10:32

      They expressed interest in many different destinations. In this particular case I don't think they have the right aircraft, they'd need a neo (A320/321) due to its much improved performance on such a long, narrowbody sector.
      Unfortunately their alliance department is generally useless and I don't think they have the capacity to forge a useful deal with Air Astana which would result in them launching Belgrade flights in cooperation with JU.
      I'll give you an example of their incompetence. Yesterday I was looking at some BEG-LCA flights on JU's website. In addition to their own nonstop flights they offer useless connections via Sofia with a long connection and a 00.45 departure from Belgrade.

      Meanwhile they have a codeshare agreement with Aegean yet they do not sell LCA via ATH (or SKG) despite having more frequencies than to SOF. To make things even more absurd, Aegean on their website sells LCA-ATH-BEG in combination with JU.
      They also advertised their partnership with Sky Express yet those flights are nowhere to be found.

      BEG-SOF 00.45-02.55
      SOF-LCA 13.30-15.35

      Oh and they are selling these flights on the same day when they plan on operating their own nonstop flight to LCA.

      If Air Astana launches Belgrade it will be because they see, on their own, an economic benefit from those flights. They will most likely sign an (expensive) codeshare agreement with JU and that will be the end of it. After all, we all remember their codeshare with Air China via VIE which costs €1.200 while their competitors charged €500 (and up).

      It's truly a shame that JU's network department which is doing a phenomenal job isn't supported by their colleagues working in alliances.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous11:22

      +100

      Neke kodser letove po evropi sa AF i KL naplacuju i do 30.000 po jednom smeru!

      Delete
  8. Anonymous09:09

    Good luck BEG. I think the most realistic new long haul route will be Toronto but who knows. Beijing came as a surprise. We will see.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous09:13

    What's the next long haul route we can expect?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:16

      China is a must. Shanghai hopefully.

      Delete
    2. Nemjee09:19

      Or Toronto. AC expressed interest but they said that the number of frequencies they could get is not enough for them (2 weekly).

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:43

      Maybe Daxing. It has enough free space and I am sure the airport gives out incentives to new airlines.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous09:14

    Good luck BEG

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous09:14

    Less talk, more action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:17

      +1

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:51

      They have done ok. Lots of new frequencies and destinations from BEG even during Covid era.

      Delete
  12. Anonymous09:15

    BEG has good predispositions for more long hauls with a lot of regional links.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:16

      There is a lot of potential for growth.

      Delete
  13. Anonymous09:16

    Nice. I think there are some exciting times ahead for BEG.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous09:17

    Becoming some sort of a transfer hub depends a lot on your home airline ie Air Serbia in this case. Any future ambition by the airport will be linked to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nemjee09:20

      Actually I'd say that it also depends on Wizz Air because they are keeping the pressure on JU and forcing them to remain competitive.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous09:19

    There were talks with the Azerbaijanians too, with no result so far. BEG should go for a carrier with well established central asian network.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baku is 3 and a half hours from BEG. It's not long-haul. But it would be nice addition, that one I agree

      Delete
    2. @Anonymous 09:19 Which would be the purpose of cooperating with a well established central asian carrier? Transfer traffic to/from the Balkans to Central Asia?

      Delete
  16. Belgrade is not a massive tourist destination. So don't expect from foreign airlines to be interested any time soon. So everything rely on Air Serbia "hands".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:24

      It is becoming more and more. A lot of money is being invested in tourism promotion. But it will take time until that shows results. This year's New Year celebrations, where a lot was invested in Dubai-style fireworks seemed to have worked well with 100,000 foreigners visiting.

      Delete
    2. Nemjee09:31

      In the first 11 months Serbia had 789.538 foreign tourists which represents an increase of 86%.
      Many new markets are being developed which is what matters. As this sector of the economy expands, so will the need for air links. After all, look at all the extra capacity we got to Turkey and Russia this year. It makes sense since their arrivals grew by 90% and 207% respectively.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous10:10

      I never understood how tourists can be correctly counted in these regions considering the massive diaspora and they are not really coming for sight seeing.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:59

      They are registered by hotels and anyone that works in accommodation plus border control

      Delete
  17. Anonymous09:34

    This is great news and it will definitely help Belgrade grow even more. I'm glad they are oriented towards this kind of growth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:39

      They said from the very beginning they will grow the long haul network once they finish the expansion, and I think by that they mean the first phase of the expansion which is being completed now. Really looking forward to see what is in store.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous09:40

    JU plans to have three long haul routes. More will be known soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:57

      Beijing and Chicago I guess. Toronto probably goes to Air Canada.

      Delete
  19. Anonymous09:40

    Chicago please!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous09:42

    Encouraging to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous09:42

    Lots of Serbians and others in Toronto area would welcome this flight with open arms. Would that be enough to make it success is hard to say.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous09:50

    China without nonsensical stops along the way would be successful.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous09:50

    I hope some of this materializes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous09:52

    I believe that medium haul is much more important. BEG needs Baltic and Caucasus flights and more African destinations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:53

      Baku, Amman, Lisbon and Riga for the next medium haul expansion.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:59

      Riga on BT is long overdue, they could handle the same traffic Belavia carried.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous12:15

      Well I think Mahan is kind of back and that is medium haul. In that area we need Kuwait and Cairo flights.

      Delete
  25. Anonymous10:02

    I think the only long haul routes with potential are Chicago and Toronto. These are quite seasonal too. Everything else is pushing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:03

      Yet there were passengers to China than to the US or Canada.

      Delete
  26. Anonymous10:03

    Have a feeling China flights will be announced a day before the elections. But anyway I'm looking forward to see the operational schedule and aircraft type.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:04

      Why would they do that? You think nonstop flights to China will win them votes? Please...

      Delete
  27. Anonymous10:24

    BEG definitely needs a lot more long haul flying

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:14

      Is there really that much demand?

      Delete
  28. Anonymous10:27

    Besides Iran, China or CIS countries, I do not see any real potential long-haul destinations.
    You can already hop via DOH, FRA/MUC and/or AMS/CDG to anywhere in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vlad12:40

      Do you have any idea how large the Balkan diaspora is in YYZ?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous04:25

      The Balkan diaspora isn't at the airport, but rather in Toronto and surrounding region.

      Delete
  29. Anonymous10:28

    Flights from all over Europe to Bangkok are full all year round except during the summer season. Air Serbia could certainly fill up their plane from European connecting flights with competitive prrices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:31

      I think you have to have at least 30-40% direct pax, and the rest can be transfer pax to make a route worthwhile.

      Delete
    2. Vlad12:44

      Yields to BKK are trash though.

      Delete
  30. Anonymous10:56

    Time to spread to North America and Asia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:13

      Asia is completely closed.

      Delete
  31. Anonymous12:12

    They talk about attracting new long haul destinations but I don't see much results.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous12:13

    Not until Covid is over.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I believe that BEG needs flights to Baku, Yerevan and Tbilisi (as people from Azerbaijan and Armenia need visas for EU, i think that Serbia would be good choice for them) , also flights for Kuwait and Oman or Bahrain could be useful (they don't need visas for Serbia, and we can get VOA for Kuwait, Visa-Free for Oman and E-visa for Bahrain.), Flights to Tunis and Cairo are useful as well, if we signed visa-free agreement with Morocco, flights to Casablanca would be fantastic, and flights to Addis Ababa would be phenomenal for connections to whole continent. Other than already discussed flights, flights to Indonesia or Thailand would be great, if possible maybe even to Japan (as again, we don't need visas for Japan), flights to Cuba and Mexico would be cool as well, but that is not possible for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous14:02

      Have you ever considered a following question: why almost no European airline flies to Baku, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Tunis, Casablanca?

      Delete
    2. Well there have been talks by our embassy in Kuwait with their carrier, talks with Azerbaijan airlines, then Tunisair was flying from BEG to Monastir, I've never said that JU should introduce these flights, i said that it would be nice that BEG could use those flights, also wizz air has bases in Baku ,Kutaisi and Tbilisi, if they introduce fligths to there or to Muscat it would be fantastic.

      Delete
  34. Anonymous12:39

    Before focusing on long-haul, Serbia should first connect more European connections. There are at least 10 airports in the Iberian peninsula that can be connected. Baltic states? Zero connections. Secondary neighbouring cities. Moldova. CIS? Why think so far when you still have so much room nearby especially Spain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:40

      Because there is so much demand for flights to Moldova...

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:41

      The most important thing is to have a stable European network! For example, Spain, as you said ^^^.
      Cairo, the Caucasus, Amman and the Baltics would also be successful.
      But Georgia has a Wizz from Kutaisi and a very strong TK presence.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous13:44

      YES!
      SOF for example have flights to Madrid,Barcelona,Palma,Malaga,Valencia and Alicante.Belgrade also have potencial!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous13:58

      Bulgaria has a huge diaspora in Spain first of all. And BEG has flights to MAD and BCN and JU was even planning VLC flights before the rona, so it's nowhere near bad.

      Delete
  35. JU should lease one a380, its cheap now....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nemjee14:21

      Yes but please it should be in a single class configuration with 868 seats. They could run double daily flights to TIV but first Tivat should make some structural adjustments so that the A380 doesn't blow away the terminal building while taking off. :D

      Delete
  36. Anonymous13:49

    In my opinion, JU should lease another 2-3 A330s. They are cheap now and it makes sense!
    ARB: New York and Chicago
    ARC: Toronto, Moscow
    ARD: Chicago, Beijing
    Plus exotic charters to the Maldives, Seychelles, Zanzibar, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Anonymous13:52

    What happened to the Bulgaria's GullivAir?
    Regional flights are evolving, but what about flights to the United States?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:59

      Are they really? They are only offering 3 weekly flights to Burgas.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous14:04

      They are planning flights to Ruse in Northern Bulgaria and Tirana next summer! Antalya was served almost every day during the summer. And one plane flew to Sweden for Xfly.
      But intercontinental flights are a complete failure!

      Delete
    3. Anonymous00:35

      I remember so many people here predicting how they would somehow hurt Air Serbia with flights to New York...

      Delete
  38. Anonymous13:57

    Potencial destinations for JU:
    Tbilisi,Yerevan,Baku,Aman,Cairo,Mostar,Almaty,Nursulultan,Lviv,Chisinau,Varna,Burgas,Zadar,Rijeka,Beirut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous00:35

      Are any of them considered long haul?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:23

      If we really go over the top I would say Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, LAX, Miami, Havana, Mexico City, Panama, Buenos Aires, Tokyo Narita, Seoul, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
      Pick any of those destinations and you got a winner.

      Delete
  39. Anonymous14:00

    I can't understand why Serbian tour operators don't start long-distance charters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nemjee14:23

      Because they already cooperate with airlines that fly to BEG and the market is probably no large enough to sustain dedicated charter flights.
      Then again, with so many people going to Zanzibar, makes me think if one weekly flight could have worked.

      Delete
  40. Matt Shatt Tampa FL21:15

    Article and some comments state Serbia asked for 2 weekly limit between Canada and Serbia. What would the benefit for Serbia/Air Serbia in that case?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous00:27

      It does not state that Serbia asked for 2 weekly it says that this is part of the bilateral agreement which was negotiated by two sides.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous03:07

      Znas li da citas? Evo sta pise u tekstu: Air Canada has considered launching operations to Belgrade, however, a restrictive Air Service Agreement, limiting carriers to two weekly flights, is considered a deterrent. Pa ne bi svojoj kompaniji stavili restrikcije ako im ne odgovara! Znaci Srbija je trazila tu restrikciju.

      Delete
  41. Anonymous00:14

    Belgrade to Toronto via NYC or to Chicago, via NYC, how 'bout that one?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous00:26

      I'm not sure they would get the rights to fly from the US to Toronto. Canada has an extremely protectionist policy towards Air Canada and is very difficult towards airlines in issuing permits.

      Delete

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