Sixty years of Belgrade Airport

Written by Veljko Marinković

The President of the Socialist Federal Republic Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, opened the new Belgrade International Airport at around 10:30 am on April 28, 1962. “A new air harbor of Yugoslavia, aerial Gibraltar, the new crossroads of Europe, the most modern airport in this part of Europe” is a summary of the headlines published in local and foreign newspapers and magazines sixty years ago. Six decades later, celebrating the anniversary, Belgrade Airport boasts some impressive statistics, with almost 130 million passengers welcomed through its gates, which were handled by some of the oldest and biggest airliners in the world. Over the decades, the airport had nonstop flights to five continents and the most important cities around the globe. In the year when Yugoslav civil aviation was celebrating its 35th anniversary, the opening of the new airport in Belgrade was a milestone in a new era of civil aviation in the former Yugoslavia, where close to twenty new or modernized airports were built in the coming years. Several foreign airliners quickly added the newly opened airport in Belgrade to their networks, with nonstop links, as well as a stop-over, where the main benefit was the significant reduction in flight times. Furthermore, a vast network of domestic routes was built up and many important moments have been witnessed in both local and global aviation history.

President Tito opens new airport » Ground and flight crew » Belgrade Airport 1960s

Belgrade Airport’s story dates back to 1910 when its first location was in the suburb of Banjica, followed by Kalemegdan, Pančevo, and finally under the Bežanija ridge (opened in 1927) which had limited capacity for further growth. The first plans to relocate the airport were announced in 1948 when construction of the New Belgrade neighborhood began. Two years later, the urban plan foresaw for the new airport to be built on the Surčin plateau, just 18 km from the center of the city, next to a highway with optimal navigational, construction, traffic, and meteorological conditions. By 1957, experts from the Serbian City Planning Bureau, with architect Nikola Dobrović at the helm, drafted two versions of the general plan. One was a central building with two runways, but since the budget was very limited, it was decided to build the airport in several stages, with only one runway. Under the supervision of Batrić Jovanović, the head of the Federal Directorate of Civil Aviation, construction started in April 1958 and was led by the professor of engineering Miloš Lukić. All projects and works were carried out by domestic engineers and companies like Planum, Ratko Mitović, Telefonkabl, Montaža, Iskra Kranj, Impol, Svetlost, Janko Lisjak, and others, except for the telecommunications system which was blueprinted by Paris Airports. In a public competition for designing the passenger terminal, the first prize was shared by a group of five young architects.

Contrition works at the new airport » Engineer Miloš Lukić and Batrić Jovanović visiting works » Architects of the passenger terminal » Belgrade Airport 1960s

During construction, the Civil Aviation Authority faced several difficulties, the biggest of which were financing issues, as well as completing the work within the envisaged time limit, while at the same time ensuring high quality standards. There was a possibility to exceed the set deadlines for the opening of the airport, which was planned for the spring of 1962. Furthermore, weather conditions did not help the builders and sometimes took several hours for the workers to walk through the high snowdrifts to the construction site. Even in April 1962, it was snowing, so several hundred special heaters had to be procured to dry the interior walls during the final works at the airport.

Outside view at the new airport » Belgrade Airport 1960s

The runway 12/30 is laid in a southeast-northwesterly direction, in the trough of the two prevailing winds, so that as far as wind conditions are concerned, the airport can be used 99.6% of the time, which could not be more ideal. At the time of construction, the runway was 3.000 m long and 45 m wide. A total of 148.000 cubic meters of concrete was used. It had the capacity of handling 44 aircraft in good visibility and 38 when bad visibility requires instrument landing. The loading apron had space for 16 planes.

Apron » A view from the control tower » JAT Caravelle jet taking off from rwy 12 » Czech Airlines aircraft departing rwy 30 » Belgrade Airport 1960s

Belgrade Airport featured the most modern air navigational equipment at the time according to ICAO standards (ILS, night landing equipment, etc.). One foreign pilot at the time noted that the runway at Belgrade Airport was among the best he had used and that he had a feeling the terminal building was like a city patio. The atrium, with the open pool and fountain in the center of the terminal, an unusual roof construction, large quantities of marble used (all from Yugoslavia), ceramic tiles, an air-conditioned international passenger lounge, and a terrace overlooking the apron, were some of the amenities which singled out Belgrade from the other airports, so that specialist from various fields and countries were regular guests on study trips to Belgrade Airport.

Inside the terminal building » Departures and arrivals on Friday, June 16, 1967» Belgrade Airport mid-1960s

In the first year of operation, Belgrade Airport was served by two domestic and fourteen foreign carriers and handled close to 220.000 passengers with only 52 employees, and most of the services at the airport were done by other companies (JAT was responsible for handling activities and Hotel Metropol for catering). As the constant growth in passenger numbers continued, the airport began taking over its own business. In 1965, passenger numbers almost doubled to 405.400. The main reason for such a sharp increase in air traffic was the opening of a new airport network throughout Yugoslavia, visa liberalization with a large number of countries, new destinations and airlines, and increased capacity by JAT Yugoslav Airlines.

In February 1963 Belgrade welcomed the first JAT Caravelle SE-210 jet which marked the beginning of the jet era in Yugoslav civil aviation. For the first time, the Caravelle applied the concept of two turbojet engines attached to the back body section, advantageous in terms of the aircraft's aerodynamics and noise reduction, which significantly increased passenger comfort. With a growing fleet of the “sky beauty” jets, JAT also significantly increased capacity, overall by 45%, and on international flights by 75%. JAT introduced a bunch of new European destinations like East Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen and by the summer of 1965 was already flying five weekly flights with Caravelle jets from Belgrade to Paris via Zagreb and Munich or to Frankfurt and London four times per week. On domestic flights, JAT mostly operated Convair Metropolitan and DC-3 aircraft, building a solid network of domestic lines with high-frequency daily and weekly rotations across Yugoslavia (28 weekly services from Belgrade to Spit and Titograd [Podgorica] with the DC-3, and daily services to new destinations such as Pristina and Vrnjačka Banja).

The best gift for the airport’s first birthday was the introduction of a twice-a-week service between New York and Belgrade by Pan American World Airways, the first American flag carrier that introduced flights to Yugoslavia and put Belgrade on the world map. The importance of this flight was enormous, although, technically this was not the first intercontinental flight from Yugoslavia and Belgrade (the first was JAT’s flight on the Convair 440 to Cairo via Athens in 1955, and also Adria Aviopromet operated charter flights to Canada with DC-6B in 1963 from Zagreb). The first Pan American flight 2 departed New York International Airport, Idlewild (later renamed to JFK) at 8:03 pm on May 2 and arrived in Belgrade on May 3, 1963, at 12:16 pm via London and Frankfurt, as a part of Pan American’s around the world tour (New York-London-Frankfurt-Belgrade-Istanbul-Tehran-Karachi-New Delhi-Calcutta-Rangoon-Bangkok-Saigon-Hong Kong-Tokyo-Honolulu-San Francisco). On the third leg of this flight, the Boeing 707 carried a special nameplate “Clipper Jet Beograd” in honor of Belgrade. On board, a special menu was served for special guests like the Vice President of Pan Am and his wife, diplomats, business people, journalists from National Geographic, Business Week, New York Times, and others.

Pan Am advertisement published in US newspapers regarding new flights to Belgrade» Pan Am special menu served on the inaugural flight to Belgrade May 3, 1963 (Courtesy of Pan Am Museum) » Belgrade Airport 1960s

By December 1964, Belgrade took 4th place among all Pan Am destinations which surpassed both passenger and cargo sales quotas by 298.8%. Special ticket prices in the winter of 1964/1965 were $528 for economy class or $978 for first class, with possible transfers to 17 US cities. The group fare for 25 or more eligible persons traveling together was $431 economy round trip. In 1964m Pan Am operated the first jet freighter flight from New York to Belgrade, with the Boeing 707-321C delivering a complete electronic computer system for the National Bank of Yugoslavia. Pan Am was promoting Belgrade and Yugoslavia as a new tourist destination so, in cooperation with JAT, it offered transfers to the Adriatic coast (Dubrovnik and Podgorica). It comes as no surprise that almost half of the passengers were in transit through Belgrade Airport. In November 1967, Pan Am introduced a direct service to Belgrade from New York via London or Frankfurt or Glasgow in mixed operations with Boeing 707 or DC-8 and also later introduced flights to Zagreb and Dubrovnik. From 1974, Pan Am discontinued its direct service to Belgrade, and all flights operated through its European hub, Frankfurt, with secluded services by its Boeing 727.

Pan Am Boeing 707 Clipper Jet and DC-8 » Belgrade Airport 1960s

In the first years of operation, Belgrade Airport became a favorite spot for Belgrade citizens, a place to go out and have fun. More precisely, the restaurant on the large roof terrace was where first espresso was served in the capital, and where one could enjoy the view of very interesting airlines and the most modern planes of the time. The public could see the largest plane in the world at that time (until the advent of the Boeing 747), the Tupolev Tu-114, which also had the longest range, at 10.900 km. Aeroflot used to operate the Soviet-built aircraft from Moscow to Belgrade, with a mix of Ilyushin IL-18 and the domestic version of the Tupolev Tu-114 "Rossiya" (based on the Tu-95 “Bear” bomber), which entered into service in 1961 and had 170 seats. In the year of the opening of the new airport, Aeroflot connected Belgrade for the first time with West Africa. En-route Moscow-Belgrade-Rabat (Algiers)-Bamako-Conakry-Accra, Aeroflot’s Tu-114 was suited with lower-deck galleys, sleeping berths, and a dining lounge in the mid-section. Because of its height (15.4m), airports needed special stairs for handling this aircraft and required passengers to climb the equivalent of two flights of stairs to board or disembark. Except for regular services, Aeroflot also operated those aircraft on a charter basis to Belgrade and later replaced them with modern jet engine Ilyushin IL-62. In 1965, Aeroflot introduced an extra flight, a nonstop service to Belgrade with the Tupolev Tu-124, which was later replaced with the Tu-134 and Tu-154.

Sabena Caravelle jet » JAT flight crew » A view from the roof terrace » Two Aeroflot’s Tu-114 disembarking » Belgrade Airport 1960s

With the opening of the new airport, airlines that had already flown to the capital of Yugoslavia either increased their frequencies or capacities. Austrian Airlines connected Vienna and Belgrade with Vickers Viscount 837 and increased frequency to four times per week in 1962 (from the previous one), and later upgraded its equipment to the Caravelle jet. Furthermore, TABSO, Bulgarian Air Transport, flew from Sofia to Vienna via Belgrade with an Ilyushin turboprop IL-14 or 18. Swissair also increased its weekly frequencies from Zurich to four, and during the summer of 1962 connected Belgrade with Geneva for the first time, operated by Convair 440 aircraft. Later it upgraded equipment to larger capacity aircraft, the Caravelle and Coronado 880. Interestingly, Swiss was the first foreign company that restored flights to Belgrade in 1949 with its DC-3, while the first JAT international flight (in 1949) after the war was also Zurich. Sabena introduced Belgrade to its network, from its hub airport Brussels, in 1963, using a Caravelle jet, and from 1967 deployed a larger three-engine Boeing 727. Malev and LOT also continued to operate scheduled flights to the newly opened airport in Belgrade with larger Il-18 aircraft.

»A view from the roof terrace » Austrian Airlines Caravelle jet »Interflug Il-18 » Belgrade Airport 1960s

In addition to Aeroflot’s flight to Africa every Monday, Adria Aviopromet with its DC-6B on flight number JP 504/505 connected Belgrade and Algiers every Friday. In 1967, and the national carrier of Algeria, Air Algerie (Societe Nationale de Transport et de Travail Aerien) flew to Belgrade with a Caravelle jet from Algiers and continued to Moscow. The De Havilland Comet 4-C, an upgraded version of the world's first jet airliner, operated to Belgrade from Cairo via Athens, four times per week in 1962 in the colors of United Arab Airlines (now Egypt Air). The route was introduced just a few days after the opening of the new airport. During the first two years of Belgrade Airport’s operations, Iraqi flew en-route Baghdad-Istanbul-Belgrade-Prague-London, two times per week with the Vickers Viscount 735. Turkish Airlines started flights to Belgrade in 1965 from Ankara via Istanbul, operating the route two times per week.

»MALEV Il-18 » A view on a winter airport’s vehicle fleet »Austrian Airlines Vickers Viscount 837 disembarking » Aeroflot Il-18 » United Arab Airlines de Havilland Comet 4-C » Belgrade Airport 1960s

KLM reopened services between Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and Belgrade Airport on April 1, 1963. After a five-year suspension, the Lockheed Electra II jet-powered aircraft operated flights en-route Amsterdam-Vienna-Belgrade-Sofia-Athens, while in the same year Czech Airlines ČSA was flying from Prague with the second-ever built civil jet engine airliner, the Tupolev Tu-104A. Every Wednesday, exactly at noon, ČSA’s Tu-104A continued its flight from Belgrade, in cooperation with JAT, to Beirut, Dhahran, Bombay, and Rangoon (the former capital of Myanmar). Two years later ČSA extended this route to the capitals of Cambodia and Indonesia, and also introduced a nonstop service between Belgrade and Bratislava with the Il-14 in addition to the already existing nonstop flight from Prague. SAS’s first flight was in 1964 connecting Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen with Belgrade with one weekly service with the Caravelle jet on flight number SR326/327, and later introduced the DC-9. While Interflug was already flying to East Berlin, in 1967 its western competitor Lufthansa, operated the first flight from Frankfurt to Belgrade via Munich and Budapest. At that time, twelve Business Class and eighty-five Economy Class passengers had taken their seats on board the first flight LH194 operated by Boeing 727-030 “Europa jet” named Kiel. The German carrier started its operation with two weekly services to Frankfurt and Munich and one year later connected Belgrade with one more city in West Germany - Dusseldorf. Air France re-introduced four weekly flights from Paris in the same year while Finnair, in 1969, connected Belgrade with Helsinki using a mix of Super Caravelle and DC-8 jets.

»KLM » Swissair Coronado jet and Convair »Domestic and international network in 1966 » Aeroflot Il-18 » Lufthansa inaugural flight, Boeing 727 (Courtesy of Lufthansa) » Belgrade Airport 1960s

In the period from 1966 to 1968, the initial rise in passenger traffic at Belgrade Airport slowed down, which was primarily influenced by the discontinuation of state subsidies on air fares on domestic flights. However, this did not affect international traffic at the airport, which grew by more than 20% on average per year. In that period, according to the annual number of passengers (490.000), Belgrade Airport was classified in the group of airports such as Berlin Tegel (280.000), Rotterdam (370.000), Venice (410.000), or Malmo (690.000). When JAT adapted to market conditions, there was a renewed increase in the number of passengers to 602.300 in 1969, which was also influenced by JAT introducing the first 100-seater McDonnell Douglas DC-9 in its fleet. One of the best examples illustrating growing demand, was deployments of the DC-9 on the Belgrade-Sarajevo-Belgrade route when passenger numbers rocketed from 15.531 from the year before to 32.530 (in the year after the DC-9 was introduced). In 1969, JAT introduced flights to Tunis and Tripoli, so at the end of the 1960s, Belgrade Airport was connected to 38 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, where two domestic airlines operated scheduled flights with 17 foreign ones, while in some destinations, such as Paris, London, Vienna, and Frankfurt, passengers had the option of daily flights. Belgrade Airport was also served by several charters and cargo companies, so it quickly established itself as a hub for international traffic.

First JAT DC-9 aircraft» » Belgrade Airport 1960s

Belgrade Airport was the first-ever passenger destination of the brand new Soviet airliner Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO reporting name 'Crusty’) in August 1967, bringing the Ministry of Civil Aviation employees on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow. Two years later, the Belgrade-based charter company, Aviogenex, introduced this aircraft in its fleet, and for more than 15 years was utilized as the workhorse of the company. Aviogenex operated its first flight from Belgrade on March 8, 1969, to Ljubljana, in honor of Women's Day while the first international destination was Dusseldorf on March 30 (YU-AHH named “Beograd”). One more interesting fact about the first two Aviogenex Tupolevs is that they had the distinctive glazed nose, containing a navigator's station, while later versions were dispensed with this crew position and had a "solid" nose fairing containing a radar. In 1967, Adria ceased its scheduled flights from Belgrade to North Africa. Although Adria operated scheduled flights to Dubrovnik from Belgrade during the summer months due to JAT’s limited capacity, its first domestic scheduled flight took place in 1968 when the now Inex-Adria Aviopromet introduced services between Ljubljana and Belgrade with the DC-6B, replaced by the brand new DC-9 in 1970, which also operated the seasonal summer triangle route Ljubljana-Belgrade-Podgorica.

Arrival or the first Tupolev Tu-134A for Aviogenex YU-AHH » Arrival of the last Tu-134A for Aviogenex (1978) » First ever Aviogenex flight, celebrating International Women's Day» Departure of Red Star football players for the match » Belgrade Airport 1960s

1970 - 1979

First million, first Canada flights, first Australia flights, first Boeing 747, second in Europe, the second terminal

The 1970s brought rapid growth to Belgrade Airport in terms of passenger flow, the number of European and intercontinental destinations, and further development. Firstly, in 1970 JAT connected Belgrade with the United States (New York), Canada (Toronto), and Australia (Sydney). The first Boeing 707 in JAT colors YU-AGA took off for the first time on June 1, 1970 at 9:30 pm on a more than 17.000 km long journey from Belgrade to Sydney via Karachi and Singapore. It was greeted by a large crowd of Yugoslav emigrants, who practically passed the police cordon and met the plane on the tarmac. Twice a week could be heard from the speakers of the Belgrade Airport: “JAT calls passengers to Sydney to proceed to the passport and customs control” or “JAT announces arrival of the plane from Sydney via Karachi and Singapore”. In 1975 JAT introduced a scheduled two weekly service to Australia and later extended the route to Melbourne. A few days after the first flight to Australia, JAT’s charter division Air Yugoslavia started Belgrade-Toronto flights, while three weekly New York charter flights continued, this time with JAT’s equipment (JAT in 1969 operated charter flights to the US with leased Convair Coronado 880 jets and IL-18), while regular services were introduced in 1976 to New York via Zagreb. Also, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated its first service to Beijing via Karachi in late 1971 under the Air Yugoslavia charter brand.

JAT Boeing 707 » Departure of Yugoslav singers for Australia» Departure of Velez football players for Australia» » Belgrade Airport 1970s

The deployment of larger aircraft, increased frequencies, and new destinations directly impacted passenger numbers, so in December 1971 the millionth passenger was welcomed at Belgrade Airport, making it the first “millionaire” airport in EX-YU. This would not be such a big surprise if the maximum capacity of the airport was not projected at 800.000 passengers per year and if it was not planned to achieve it until 1977. One interesting and funny fact was that after the opening, the new Belgrade Airport was criticized for being too big and luxurious, but it quickly turned out that the criticism was unfounded and that the airport became cramped, especially during the daytime peaks or during the summer months.

One not-so-well-known fact is that from 1964 till 1971 Belgrade Airport, Podgorica , and Ivangrad (Berane) airports were merged into one enterprise with the main goal to promote traffic between Belgrade and Montenegro and ensure common future development. Tivat was also, for a short period, part of this enterprise, while JAT would later take over the management of Tivat and Podgorica airports, which also was the intention with Belgrade Airport, but the capital airport remained as an independent company. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, in 1972, Belgrade Airport was among the fastest-growing in Europe, ranked second in terms of passenger growth and air operations, just behind Paris Orly Airport. In the same year, Belgrade accounted for almost 30% of total traffic at all of Yugoslavia’s airports. The vast majority of these passengers were generated on domestic flights (64%), but this percentage shifted in favor of international traffic during the 80s. In international traffic, most passengers who flew in / out of Belgrade airport did so on JAT flights. It is interesting that although it had the largest number of passengers, it was not the airport with the largest number of transit passengers. That title was held by Zagreb. One of the interesting flights at the time was a one weekly service to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which was flown by Sabena with its Boeing 707 on the route Brussels-Belgrade-Athens-Jeddah-Cairo-Athens-Belgrade-Brussels or Interflug flight Berlin-Belgrade-Algeria-Bamako-Freetown-Conakry operated by a mix of Soviet planes, Il-18 or Tu-134, which was best proof of the position that the airport in Belgrade slowly gained.

Domestic network in Yugoslavia» JAT international services» Foreign carriers international services » Market share on international flights to/from Belgrade » Belgrade Airport 1972

The year that will be remembered in the airport’s history is for sure 1973, when the Boeing 747, the popular jumbo jet landed for the first time on Belgrade Airport’s runway. “The Queen of Sky” operated by national carriers Alitalia and KLM on flights from Turin and Amsterdam arrived with football fans of Juventus and Ajax, for the final of the European Champion Club’s Cup, which was being hosted in Belgrade. Over several days, more than 25.000 football fans arrived and were welcomed through the airport’s gates. Practically, all possible aircraft types at the time landed at the airport, including the DC-10, DC-8, DC-9, Caravelle jet, Trident jets, Boeing 727, and 737.

First Boeing 747 taxing, operated by Alitalia » Restaurant in the main hall of Terminal 1 during “football fans invasion at Belgrade Airport” » Arrival of Juventus football players » Arrival of Ajax football players, Hendrik Johannes Cruijff » Arrival of football fans » Belgrade Airport 1973

What excitement reigned in the Yugoslav capital on the occasion of the landing of the first B747 is best witnessed in a report by the “Ilustrovana Politika” magazine: "Curious citizens of Belgrade are gathering in large numbers on the airport terrace to welcome the first landing of the world’s largest plane at Belgrade Airport. And here it is, an giant, with its air brakes down, slowly approaching the runway, looking almost as big as the airport building. It leaves everyone present breathless. When the jumbo took its parking position, 350 colorful passengers came out of it. The space in front of the building looked like an anthill. Similar to when the workers of the capital's factories end the working day at 2 pm. Gathered citizens from the terrace greet the cheering fans. It looks like the match has already begun".

This event was practically a test for Belgrade Airport because in just a few days it had to handle five Alitalia B747s and over 150 narrow-body planes. KLM from the “land of tulips” sent three Boeing 747’s to Belgrade, where one was parked for two days, the second was waiting for passengers for one day, and the third, immediately returned to Amsterdam. The “Politika” under the headline "Midnight thunder in the sky over Belgrade" reported an announcement by Air Traffic Control that during the night between May 30 and 31, at certain moments above the city, at a low altitude, up to 20 planes would be holding, awaiting for permission to land. The police also stated that citizens should avoid using the Ljubljana-Zagreb-Belgrade highway, especially in the area around the airport, as a bus corridor would be established, which will transport fans from the airport to the city center.

Praise and criticism of the work of the airport, published in the airport’s newspapers » Belgrade Airport 1970s

In 1974 further growth continued and Belgrade Airport was ranked 32nd in Europe, just behind Vienna Airport (1.9 million) and Paris le Bourget Airport (1.7 million). The top three Europe airports at the time were London Heathrow (20 million), Paris Orly (12 million), and Frankfurt (11 million). A total of 41.000 planes landed and took off, 12.000 tons of goods were transported, and close to 1.7 million passengers passed through the gates of the airport, carried on board 4 domestic and 18 foreign carriers. In addition to JAT, Aviogenex, Inex-Adria Aviopromet, the Zagreb-based Pan Adria (Panonsko Jadranski Aerotransport) connected Belgrade and Zagreb in 1973 for the first time regularly with its Convair 440 aircraft. Pan Adria was founded in 1961 and in the first years of its operation specialized in night transport of mail between Yugoslav cities, and only in 1969, started passenger flights. In 1975, Pan Adria operated services for JAT like the Belgrade-Ivangrad route or Belgrade-Mostar-Niš-Tivat or Skopje-Niš-Belgrade-Tivat, before it collapsed and became Trans Adria, which eventually merged with JAT. For the first time, Belgrade Airport was the first and last stop on a nineteen-day tour around the world, operated by JAT’s Boeing 707. Although Terminal 1 was adapted in 1974 to accommodate 1.4 million passengers, the number of passengers continued to grow practically day by day, and in the summer months, the airport was more crowded than the bus station during the holidays (in 1975 over 2 million passengers were recorded), so the situation accelerated the decision to reconstruct the airport by building a new terminal (today known as Terminal 2), modernizing the existing one (Terminal 1), building a new apron which would triple aircraft handling capacity and extend the runway, since the existing one was projected for handling the Boeing 707. In the same year, the new air traffic control center was opened at Belgrade Airport, with the most modern equipment that existed in the world at that time.

JAT Grumman Agricultural Aviation fleet» First JAT Boeing 727 YU-AKA lining-up for the first time at Belgrade Airport, welcome ceremony» Pan Adria Convair 440, ready for boarding» Vesna Vulovic, Guinness World Record holder, Highest fall survived without a parachute » Belgrade Airport 1970s

One of the eighteen foreign carriers that were flying to Belgrade Airport was the world’s oldest carrier, Qantas, with its first flight in April 1975, connecting Sydney, Melbourne, and Belgrade with its wide-body jet. And not by any wide-body plane, but by “The Queen of Sky”, a Boeing 747. Qantas was the first company that introduced B747 in scheduled service to Belgrade and also the only scheduled wide-body flight into Belgrade until the arrival of JAT’s first DC-10. At first, one weekly and then increasing to two weekly services, Qantas operated the B747-238B most of the time, although, on occasion, it did use the 747-338. Like most of the routes in the 70s and early 80s, Qantas QF 1/2 or QF 15/16 were with multi-stops. During the time, some flights terminated in Belgrade, while some continued to London, Paris, or Rome, but most were Sydney-Melbourne-Darwin-Bangkok-Damascus-Athens-Belgrade.

Qantas Boeing 747» Disembarking of the first Qantas passengers » Belgrade Airport 1975

In 1975 Qantas’ Jumbo jet 747 landed 66 times on Belgrade Airport’s runway and in 1976 those numbers increased to 210 times. One date will be remembered in the 60-year history of Belgrade Airport - September 26, 1976, a Monday, when Qantas station manager requested, only three hours before departure, from the airport to prepare 367 economy class meals and 18 first-class meals. Since at the time the airport was providing catering, practically all other airport capacities were engaged in the preparation of this record number of meals. The Qantas B747 took off with only a three-minute delay. In the summer months of 1977, Belgrade Airport was among the few airports in the world that had 5 weekly flights to the city of Bondi and Manly beaches, three Qantas flights in addition to JAT’s two weekly services, which was a great plus for Belgrade Airport’s income, due to the max take-off weight of the 747. Qantas was promoting Belgrade as its new gateway to Europe and offering three separate stop-over excursions to other parts of Yugoslavia, priced from $39 to $137, for three days sightseeing if Belgrade or visiting the Adriatic coast, Sarajevo, and Mostar. Qantas flights were terminated in early 1987 like many other ancillary routes with the main focus staying on flights to London, Frankfurt, and Rome.

Qantas advertisement for Belgrade flights» Qantas Belgrade office » Belgrade Airport 1970s

During the 1970s, the trend of connecting Belgrade Airport with important European and world centers continued, both through the arrival of new companies and increased capacity and frequencies. In June 1970, the inaugural flight by BEA (British European Airways, now British Airways) from London Heathrow to Belgrade and Sofia took place with a Trident Two aircraft (BE720 reg. G-AVFJ). To the City of 1001 Nights, Baghdad, Iraqi Airways operated a mix of Boeing 727 and 707 aircraft, with up to three weekly flights in 1979. Libyan Airlines was flying to Belgrade with Boeing 727-200 every Thursday and Sunday. Zambia Airways in 1975, for the first time, connected Lusaka and Belgrade with one flight per week, via Nairobi, Larnaca, and Rome with a Boeing 707. Kuwait Airways in 1976, as a part of its expansion, introduced seasonal flights to Belgrade with its blue and white Boeing 707. Air China’s predecessor Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in 1974 introduced flights to Zurich via Karachi and Belgrade with the Boeing 707 from Beijing, while JAT’s scheduled flights from Belgrade and Beijing started from 1979, on the service called the “route of friendship” using the same type of aircraft as its Chinese counterpart. TAROM reintroduced Bucharest in 1973 with BAC 1-11 aircraft, while Pan Am was also flying to Bucharest from Frankfurt via Belgrade, twice per week on a Boeing 727, connecting onto Pan Am B747 flight to New York from Frankfurt.

Air France Boeing 727» Qantas Belgrade office » Aeroflot Tu-134A » Inex-Adria Aviopromet on finals » Pan American Boeing 707 boarding» Air Algerie B737-200 » JAT Boeing 707 YU-Age and Boeing 727 » Petar Lazarevski photo collection » Belgrade Airport 1970s

Bangladesh’s Biman Boeing 707 was a regular guest at Belgrade Airport during a technical stop-over on its route from Dhaka to London while the Yugoslav capital was also a technical stop for Dutch Martin Air’s aircraft arriving from different world destinations. At the same time, numerous charter companies flew to Belgrade, such as Britain’s Dan Air, British Caledonian, Court Line and Monarch from various UK cities or Wardair with its Boeing 707 from Toronto, Itavia from Rome and Paninternational, a West German leisure airline, based in Munich and many others.

Rush hour, departure hall and check-in zone» Alitalia DC-10 during the presentation for JAT » Boeing 747 SP (Special Performance) during the presentation for JAT » Construction works at new Terminal 2» Bus parking in front of Terminal 1 » KLM DC-9 and first-ever Boeing 737-100 in Lufthansa colors » Duty free-shop » Belgrade Airport 1970s

By the end of the 1970s JAT was flying from Belgrade to almost all major cities in Europe, with a steady increase in frequencies and the introduction of new destinations like Kyiv, St. Petersburg (Leningrad), Baghdad, Damascus, Kuwait, Malta, Lyon, Madrid, and Gothenburg. With the introduction of the brand-new Boeing 727-200 advanced in 1974, JAT once again increased capacity on routes from Belgrade. For example in 1979 flights to Cairo were operated exclusively with B727s and the number of passengers that departed/arrived from Belgrade Airport’s gates increased to 13.000. In 1976, JAT introduced new domestic flights from Belgrade to Maribor, and three years later was deploying a mix of B727 and DC-9 on the route, nine times per week, with 90% of passengers being business travelers. In the summer of 1977, over 4.000 seats per week were available on the Belgrade-Moscow-Belgrade service, on flights operated by JAT and Aeroflot or almost double the daily flights between Belgrade and Paris. For the first time, in 1979, Aviogenex introduced scheduled flights between Belgrade and Pristina, Dubrovnik, Pula, Split, and Ljubljana during the summer season.

Iraqi Airways Boeing 727» Check-in zone » Zambia Airways route chart » JAT and Pan Am Boeing 727» Alitalia Boeing 747» Paninternational BAC 1-111 » Lufthansa Boeing 737 » Belgrade Airport 1970s

In addition to companies and planes, Belgrade Airport was also a place where some of the world's most famous leaders, members of royal families, emperors, actors, artists, members of sports clubs, and national teams were welcomed over the years. The tradition of welcoming athletes who have achieved some significant successes is maintained up until this day, but much less ceremonial and usually in the small, underground, arrivals hall. Legend says that the airport still remembers Fidel Castro's sharp steps, Elizabeth Taylor's high heels, the sexy smile of "Dirty" Inspector Harry Callahan aka Clint Eastwood, the mass welcome of Apollo crew members, and the beauty of Sophia Loren.

Clint Eastwood » Benfica football team » First Lady Jovanka Broz and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, during a royal visit in 1972 » Princess Benedikte of Denmark boarding JAT Boeing 727 » Queen Elisabeth II and president Tito; entourage and BEA Trident jet, during a royal visit in 1972 » Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa » Sophia Loren » The popular Yugoslav actors: Miodrag Petrović-Čkalja, Miodrag Popović-Deba, and Žarko Mitrović » Hollywood duo, Elizabeth Taylor and Kirk Douglas » Departure of the men’s and women’s basketball Red Star teams to USSSR » US actress Shirley Temple with Yugoslav athlete Vera Nikolić » A large crowd welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts at the airport (1969) » Belgrade Airport, 1960s and 1970s

In December 1978 Belgrade Airport welcomed the arrival of the first “Jumbo” sporting a YU registration, the DC-10, YU-AMA and at the welcome ceremony, the plane was named after the great scientist, Nikola Tesla. Although JAT had already announced the Boeing 747SP as its new long-haul aircraft, after long negotiations with the Long Beach-based Company, JAT shifted to the DC-10. The host of the welcome ceremony at the airport was Jovan Pejnović the best student of the elementary school "Kata Pejnović" from Smiljan, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla. Instead of champagne, water from the spring from Smiljan was served in honor of the great scientist. It is little known that Tesla was keenly interested in aviation (in today’s terminology he would probably be named avgeek with a #), from his childhood when he jumped off the roof of his home holding an open umbrella or by the age of twelve he had already constructed his first model engine out of wood. As a student, he made a design and calculations for flying machines without wings or tails driven solely by propulsion. Later, Tesla was also working on a design for a turbo-jet engine and aircraft with vertical takeoff. Although Tesla did not have much success in the realization of his ideas, many of his patents were used in the years that came. Miloš Tošić, a 95-year-old who knew Tesla during the 1930s, said during the welcome ceremony of the new DC-10, that Tesla once told him: The time will come when we will be able to have breakfast in New York and dinner in Belgrade. Three days after the welcome ceremony, the first JAT DC-10 “Nikola Tesla“ took off for the first time from Belgrade Airport’s runway to New York via Zagreb.

The host of the DC-10 ceremony, Jovan Pejnović » JAT DC-10 at the sunset» Belgrade Airport, 1978

Nine months later, two of JAT DC-10s, “Nikola Tesla” and “Edvard Rusijan”, were the first planes to board passengers at the newly opened Terminal 2, for the first time using air bridges. In September 1979, the new terminal building was opened, covering an area of 33.000 square meters, increasing the airport’s capacity to a maximum of 5.5 million passengers per year and significantly improving the travel experience. Interestingly, the works on the new terminal were delayed by more than a year, and this time the honorary role in cutting the ribbon was given to an airport worker, a firefighter Milan Jakić. The facility was intended exclusively for international flights and, in terms of architecture, formed a harmonious compositional single functioning unit with the old building. It was conceived according to the centralized principle. The most modern technological equipment was installed and air bridges were used for the first time, with 12 of them for 13 parking positions, as well as additional equipment for navigation and positioning of aircraft on the air bridge with three special “push-back” vehicles. Furthermore, eight new carousel systems were implemented into the transport system of the new terminal for handling, transporting, and weighing luggage. For the first time, TV monitors, boards, and electric clocks were used to announce the flight schedule, boarding times, or delayed flights in a new, visual friendly, way.

Images of new Terminal 2 published in local newspapers» Belgrade Airport, 1979

The runway was extended by 400 m in 1977 while in 1979 was modernized and for the first time was coated with an asphalt layer, which significantly increased the capacity and landing of larger aircraft types like the DC-10 and B747. A new airport platform was also built, over 100.000 square meters, which provided an additional 23 operational positions and extra stops for longer stop-overs. An open parking lot for passenger cars with 1.700 positions and a garage for 547 cars were built. In addition, the issues of roads, sewerage, electricity, and heat supply were resolved. The airport also got an administrative building, a cargo center, and other facilities that again ranked Belgrade Airport among the most modern in the world.

1980 - 1989

Golden years - historic records - 12 long-haul destinations - regional hub airport

What started during the 70s continued in the 80s. Although financial instability in Yugoslavia, the global oil crises, and conflicts in the Middle East directly influenced the number of passengers and air operations, the 80s were known also as the golden years for Belgrade Airport with direct flights to intercontinental long-haul destinations like Montreal, Toronto, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and some closer to home like Baghdad, Beirut, Kuwait, Dubai, Damascus, Amman, Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers.

» Belgrade Airport postcard 1980s

After two years of work, the modernized Terminal 1 building was opened in 1981, intended for domestic flights. During the same year, once again, runway 12/30 was coated with a new asphalt layer in a record time - just 4 days. During these four days, although the airport was open when no work was carried out, JAT operated the bulk of its flights from the nearby, newly built, Osijek Airport. In 1983, Aviogenex operated for the first time intercontinental flight. On a twelve-hour journey from Belgrade to New Delhi, with technical landings in Damascus and Muscat, Aviogenex transported the Yugoslav delegation to the 7th Summit of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries in a specially modified Tu-134A, executive version.

» Aviogenex Boeing 727 and Tu-134A at Belgrade Airport, 1980s

Belgrade Airport was the first stop on a new international scheduled flight, the first in 16 years, established by Inex-Adria Aviopromet in 1983, from Ljubljana to Larnaca via Belgrade (JP 934/935). Six years later, on the same route, Belgrade Airport was the first to welcome the brand-new Airbus A320 (YU-AOA) in the colors of Adria Airways operating its first commercial flight. Adria Airways was the first airline to fly an A320 powered with new V2500 engines, which also held the record for the longest flight on an A320 at that time, from Seychelles to Athens that took 7 hours and 40 minutes. In 1984, Adria with a new member in its fleet, the de Havilland Canada DHC-7, popularly known as the Dash 7, introduced a six weekly service between Belgrade and Mostar, and also deployed the Dash 7 on flights from Belgrade to Maribor and Sarajevo. In addition to regular flights from Belgrade to Dubrovnik and Split, Adria, in 1985, operated the newly established 01:40 minute service from Slovenia’s Adriatic coastal town of Portorož to Belgrade with the Dash 7. On the same route, Adria would get competition, when JAT with its turboprop ATR42 introduced services in 1989.

Inex-Adria Aviopromet advertisement for Larnaca via Belgrade flights» Crew of Inex-Adria Aviopromet Dash 7 on an inaugural flight to Portoroz » Belgrade Airport 1980s

In the mid-1980s Belgrade Airport became a true hub airport in this part of Europe. With daily connections to New York, four times per week to Chicago, or three weekly flights to Montreal and Toronto, Belgrade became very popular for transfer passengers to Sofia, Istanbul, Bucharest, Warsaw, Moscow and Budapest. JAT’s two weekly service to Australia generated a lot of transfer passengers, besides transfers in domestic service it was very popular for travelers coming from the Mediterranean island of Malta which boasts a huge diaspora in Australia.

JAT advertisement in the USA and Australian newspapers, promoting Belgrade as a regional hub » Austrian Airlines ad published in the local Borba newspapers» Belgrade Airport 1980s

According to JAT’s data, 60% of goods that were arriving on DC-10’s cargo compartments from North America were transferred via Belgrade Airport, across EX-YU, or to other international flights, mostly the Middle and the Far East. Belgrade was also a point from which Yugoslav companies exported their products worldwide, like the first three Zastava Yugo cars in 1984 or Yugo Florida in 1988, which “traveled“ on board the DC-10 to the USA. In addition, at least one private car per flight arrived in the belly of the DC-10 from US and Canada to Belgrade. Nearly two tons of newspapers and periodicals were flown on JAT flights to Europe and North America, every day. One of the leading items dispatched from Belgrade, on board JAT cargo charter service with the Boeing 707C, were hatching eggs and day-old chickens to Tunisia, where up to 200 tons of eggs were flown from the mid-70s. Due to high demand, JAT opened the first cargo line between Belgrade and London in 1985, operated by an Antonov AN-12 aircraft.

Cargo loading into JAT DC-10 to USA » Airport view » Yugoslav entertainers in front of JAT DC-10, heading to celebrate Yugoslavia Day in the USA » Belgrade Airport 1980s

On August 9, 1985, Belgrade Airport became the first European airport from which the most modern narrow-body medium-range airliner at the time, the Boeing 737-300 (YU-AND), took off for the first time in scheduled service, operating a JAT flight to Amman via Istanbul. The next day, the silver bird took off on its first domestic flight JU7402/7412 to Podgorica, followed by a flight to London. This aircraft type continued departing from Belgrade Airport’s runway over the next 36 years to various destinations, while one member of the fleet (YU-ANI) holds the record, as the world’s oldest passenger Boeing 737-300 in service.

The arrival of JAT’s first Boeing 737-300 (YU-AND), welcome ceremony » Second JAT Boeing 737 (YU-ANH) at the gate» Belgrade Airport 1985

In 1986, a new facility was opened at Belgrade Airport - a JAT aircraft maintenance hangar capable of housing two Boeing 747s or three DC-10s. In 1988, JAT catering opened "the largest food factory in the Balkans", covering an area of ​​8.000 square meters with a capacity of making 18.000 meals per day. Also, in 1989, the Aviation Museum was opened at the airport, with a collection of over 90 military and civilian aircraft, a unique-looking building, noticeable on every takeoff and landing from Belgrade Airport.

Aviation Museum, postcard » Belgrade Airport, 1989

The record year, in the airport’s 25-year history at the time, in terms of the number of passengers was 1987, with more than 3.3 million travelers. It is interesting that domestic traffic generated approximately the same number of passengers, slightly more than a million, but that international traffic increased significantly, which now, unlike in the 70s, generated over 65% of the airport’s traffic. Also, record cargo movement was recorded, with close to 30.000 tons of goods being transported. The most attractive domestic destinations were Dubrovnik with close to 3 daily flights, Zagreb with 25 weekly flights, as well as 16 weekly flights to Split. At the same time, CAAC deployed larger, Il-62 aircraft, on the Beijing-Karachi-Belgrade-Bucharest-Karachi-Beijing route (later changed to Boeing 767), while Royal Jordanian introduced a new service from Amman to Belgrade in a mixed operation of Boeing 727 and Airbus A310. SAS, Lufthansa, Air France, Austrian Airlines operated, for the most part, daily flights to Belgrade, while up to five JAT DC-10s crossed the world, connecting Yugoslavia and Belgrade with five continents.

JAT’s first ATR-42 (YU-ALK), DC-10, Boeing 737, and 727 » Belgrade Airport 1980s

» Belgrade Airport 1980s

1990 -1999

Interruption, establishment and renewed interruption of traffic

According to predictions and research, which were conducted in the mid-1970s, Belgrade Airport was supposed to have two parallel runways by 2000, serving about 15 million passengers annually, with two more terminal buildings, a new cargo center capable of handling 390.000 tons of goods and a with direct railway or metro connection to the city center. Unfortunately, instead of realizing these plans, the 90s were the most challenging times in the 60-year history of Belgrade Airport.

The projected look of Belgrade Airport by 2000 »

The early morning arrival of JAT DC-10 from Melbourne and Sydney on June 1, 1992, marked the end of a direct flights between Belgrade and the land down under. Two days later, UN sanctions resulted in the suspension of all international flights to/from Belgrade Airport, preceded by the last flights, in the spirit of quality Swedish drama-thriller movies, the return of the Yugoslav national football team from Stockholm on a JAT Boeing 737 flight under the command of Captain Steva Popov and the last, flight from Moscow. But the airport remained open, and for 28 months was connected with only two, at that time domestic, flights to Podgorica and Tivat, with up to 30 daily rotations to the coast of Montenegro during the rush summer days. An interesting fact is that during the period of sanctions, Belgrade Airport hosted the first truck race, in 1992, where the start/finish of the race was next to gate A1 and where 22 trucks toured the track 8 times, which included the runway, taxiway and parking positions. The blockade was lifted on October 5, 1994, with the arrival of Aeroflot’s four-engine beauty, the Ilusyin Il-62M. The next morning, an unexpected guest was welcomed at the airport, a TAROM Boeing 737. On a scheduled flight between Athens and Bucharest, the captain, who was at the same time the CEO of the Romanian airliner, requested a change of flight plans and landed on the Belgrade runway to celebrate the re-opening of the airport. Later that day JAT, now in new colors (a stylized bird or flame) operated its first flights to Moscow (B727 YU-AKI) and Athens (B737 YU-ANV). Twenty days later, Lufthansa resumed flights to Belgrade, deploying a Boeing 737 onto the route, with a total of 13 weekly flights to Frankfurt and Munich in the summer of next year.

First landing after 28 months of blockade, Aeroflot Ilusyin IL-62M » Belgrade Airport 1994

Although by 1996 Belgrade Airport was connected to most major hubs in Europe by JAT and 12 foreign carriers, it lost its regional hub status. The biggest problem, which was reflected in a sharp reduction of passenger numbers, was the loss of a huge number of flights to EX-YU airports, domestic traffic, which participated in the total traffic with 30% in the airport’s best year. Also, all long-distance intercontinental lines were terminated, which affected the airport and resulted in it just 976.000 passengers in 1995.

JAT Boeing 737-300 (YU-ANI) and Boeing 727 (YU-AKI) » Inside the terminal building, check-in zone» Belgrade Airport 1996

However, this situation did not stop the airport from further investments and development and in 1997 equipment for Category II was installed, thus enabling the use of the airport in bad weather conditions. In the same year, the airport welcomed a new domestic carrier, Montenegro Airlines, founded by the federal government. It operated its Fokker 28Mk 4000 “Lovćen” (YU-AOI) on its first promotional flight to Belgrade in April 1997. Later Montenegro Airlines operates scheduled flights from Belgrade to Podgorica, Tivat, and Zurich. In 1997, Belgrade was connected to more than 30 Euro-Mediterranean cities, where for example, British Airways operated daily flights to London Gatwick using the Boeing 737 on the route, while Alitalia connected “The Eternal City” of Romev to Belgrade with six weekly flights using the MD-80 “Mad Dog”. JAT resumed international long-haul services in December 1997 on the Belgrade-Beijing route, with the last remaining DC-10 YU-AMB, now renamed as City of Belgrade and introduced, for the first time, flights to Abu Dhabi. At the same time, a new charter airliner, Tiger Air, founded by the Partizan football club, was operating mostly charter flights out of Belgrade, with two leased Yak-42 aircraft, from Belgrade to Tivat, in the summertime.

Montenegro Airlines, Fokker 28Mk 4000 “Lovćen” (YU-AOI), first promotional flight » Belgrade Airport 1997

When the situation seemed to be improving, with almost 1.4 million passengers passing through the airport’s doors in 1998, once more, at the end of the 20th century, the situation quickly deteriorated, and between March and June 1999, all air links to/from Belgrade were suspended due to NATO bombing. Some of the airport’s facilities were damaged. A JAT Boeing 737 took off on June 18 at exactly 7 am to Tivat, marking the airport’s first scheduled flights after almost 90 days. This takeoff was preceded by the first landing of a Hellenic Air Force transporter C-130 Hercules aircraft, bringing humanitarian aid in the organization of the famous world and Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis. Later that day, Maestro held an open-air concert in Belgrade downtown. The first international destination, once again, was Moscow on June 25, where the two national companies operated flights between the two capitals. On the same day, Montenegro Airlines resumed domestic service between Tivat and Belgrade, where Tivat remained the main airport in Montenegro until October, due to major damage iat Podgorica Airport during the bombing. Also, in July, JAT reintroduced its intercontinental service to Beijing, with a DC-10, but by the end of 1999 Belgrade Airport still did not have nonstop flights to the capitals of the EU, due to ongoing sanctions.

JAT pilots pose in front of DC-10 YU-AMB which just arrived from Rome after D-check (1996) »JAT pilots pose in front of the test A319 when the order to purchase eight jets of its type was made » JAT, Lufthansa, Air France Boeing 737 and Swissair A321 at the gates» Belgrade Airport, 1998

2000 - 2009

A new beginning - US flights - Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport - modernization

Very early in the new millennium, the political situation finally stabilized and quickly scheduled flights from Belgrade were re-established to Europe and the number of passengers rose on a daily basis, from half a million in 1999 to more than 1.3 million in 2000 while Belgrade was connected to 24 cities in Europe, North Africa, Middle East and the Far East with direct flights. In 2002 JAT, after 11 years, started flights from Belgrade to Brnik Airport in Ljubljana and Belgrade Airport recorded a 21% increase in international traffic, compared to the year before. In 2003, for the first time, JAT deployed its ATR72 (YU-ALO) on a scheduled three weekly service to Sarajevo, but the biggest event for the airport was, after an eleven year hiatus, the resumption of nonstop services to New York, every Thursday and Sunday. In cooperation with Uzbekistan Airways, JAT, now formally known as Jat Airways, started flights to the “Big Apple”. From September, Uzbekistan Airways’ Boeing 767-300ER arriving from Tashkent reintroduced long-haul service to North America, where Jat on those flights had secured 95 seats, ten in business, and 85 seats in economy class, and cabin crew members were also from Serbia. Unfortunately, these flights were short-lived and were terminated by 2005.

Uzbekistan Airways Boeing 767 taking-off from rwy 30 (Photo: Dejan Milinković, » Apron overview » JAT fleet and Uzbekistan Airways (Photo: Uroš Mitrović,, » Belgrade Airport 2000s

Also in 2003, after more than 20 years, work began on the modernization of Terminal 2. Belgrade Airport at that time welcomed 16 foreign airlines and the new addition was Snowflake by SAS connecting Belgrade with Copenhagen and Stockholm with its Boeing 737-800. ČSA Czech Airlines operated flights from Belgrade to Prague and Tunis Air also introduced new flights to Djerba and Monastir. British Airways moved its London service to Heathrow with a four weekly service on its Boeing 737 while local carriers Jat Airways, Montenegro Airlines, and Montavia operated scheduled flights from the airport.

» Belgrade Airport promo poster, 2000s

In the next year, the airport continued its modernization, a new VIP lounge, with an area of ​​550 square meters, was opened. Divided into three sections, the first part was for leisure, the second for television crew and press conferences, and the third part intended for high-ranking guests, also known as a presidential suite. Each section has an exit to the C-platform with passport, customs, and baggage point, totally independent of the rest of the airport. Also, in 2004, a special modern Rosenbauer fire and rescue vehicle was procured, bringing the airport in Belgrade into the company of only a couple of European airports that owned this 8x8 vehicle, with the possibility of pumping 6.000 liters of water per minute.

Duty free-shop, check-in zone » Rosenbauer fire, and rescue vehicle » Apron overview » Belgrade Airport 2000s

In 2006 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla, the airport changed its name to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, after 44 years. The new, refurbished, multi million-euro Terminal 2 was also opened that same year, with its arrivals and departure halls completely rebuilt. The most modern technology at the time was installed, including six state-of-the-art air bridges, new check-in desks, security zones and duty-free shops. At the same time, after the opening of T2, work began on the modernization of T1, which was the airport’s main terminal over the previous three years.

» Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, runway 12 » JAT Airways Boeing 737 fleet » Inside the terminal, 2006

In July 2006, the privately owned company based at Belgrade Airport in Serbia, Centavia (Central European Aviation) operated its first (charter) flight from Corfu to Belgrade. With two leased British Aerospace BAe 146-200 regional jetliners (YU-AGL and YU-AGM), the popular “jumbolino”, configured in a 98-seat layout, Centavia transported passengers on charter flights to Egypt, Turkey, Spain, and Greece during the summer of 2006 in cooperation with travel agencies. Although the launch of scheduled, low cost flights, to the region and Europe were announced, they never materialised and Centavia declared bankruptcy in November 2006. That same year, more than 150.000 passengers chose Lufthansa for their flights to/from Belgrade, with 28 direct flights a week to Lufthansa hubs of Frankfurt and Munich.

Centavia BAe 146 (Photo: Mitrović Uroš, » JAT DC-10 preparing for its last take-off from Belgrade (Photo: Zoran Milenković, 2005) » Air France Airbus A318 » JAT Airways Boeing 737 fleet » Belgrade Airport 2000s

The real indicator that the airport was determined to return to the position of a regional hub, which it acquired during the previous century, was the installation of equipment and procedures for CAT IIIb, in 2008, which it enabled to function at full capacity and in conditions of extremely low visibility. For the first time in the history of Belgrade Airport, CAT IIIb was used on January 4, 2009. An important fact is that in the period between 2002 and 2008, passenger numbers at the airport grew by over 60%. After 17 years, the first aircraft took off from Belgrade’s runway to Croatia, towards the city in the south of the Istrian peninsula, known as the city of parks and summer festivals, Pula. The first Jat Airways ATR72 as JU740 departed from gate A6 at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport to Pula in July 2008. Pula was followed by the resumption of flights to the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, after almost 20 years (Jat Airways resumed flights in 2011). After investing in modern runway equipment, the airport improved services once again, introducing E-check in, new television flat screens with flight information, a new air conditioning system, greater parking capacity, the taxi system was regulated, and new duty-free shops were opened. Jat Airways, Lufthansa and Montenegro Airlines operated the largest amount of flights from Nikola Tesla Airport, but also new carriers introduced new services, such as LOT Polish Airlines which began operations for the first time since the late 1980s, using the 48 seat Embraer 145 aircraft. It is interesting that, in the same year, there was significant competition on flights to Monastir from Belgrade, with a total of 11 weekly flights, operated by three carriers (Jat Airways, Tunis Air, and Tunisian charter carrier Nouvelair). Among others, Lufthansa operated 3 daily flights to Munich and two daily flights to Frankfurt, Alitalia daily flights to Rome and Milan while Swiss operated twice-weekly flights to Basel (on top of its flights to Zurich).

Lufthansa resumption of flights from Dusseldorf (Courtesy of Lufthansa) » Belgrade Airport, 2005

The further development of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport coincided with the abolition of visas for the citizens of Serbia to the European Union at the end of 2009. The airport became more attractive for a large number of new airlines, and carriers operating from Belgrade increased their number of flights. Five minutes past midnight, on December 19, 2009, Jat Airways’ special flight to Brussels took off, celebrating the end of EU visa restrictions, carrying onboard a Boeing 737 fifty exceptional individuals who have never ventured outside of Serbia’s borders. With the implementation of the open skies policy, Belgrade Airport entered a new era in its 60-year history, which was about to set a series of new historic records.

2010 ...

Further modernization - and more modernization - records - and more records

In 2010 Belgrade took charge by attracting 10 new airlines, among which were five flag carriers and three low cost airlines. Adria Airways returned to Belgrade for the first time in 20 years with six weekly flights from Ljubljana and also scheduled flights to Spain were resumed after 20 years, operated by Spanair’s A320 aircraft (3x from Barcelona and 2x from Madrid). Scheduled flights to Riga commenced, connecting the two cities via the air for the first time in history with airBaltic’s four weekly flights from Riga. Malev Hungarian and Aegean Airlines introduced daily flights from the capitals of Hungary and Greece, while TAROM Romanian (5x from Bucharest), Niki (6x from Vienna), B&H Airlines (6x from Sarajevo), Wizz Air (3x per week from Dortmund and 4x per week from London Lutons) and Cimber Sterling (2x per week from Copenhagen) introduced flights to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

Jat Airways, Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 and Czech Airlines A320 at the gates » Apron overview » Inaugural flight of Adria Airways, Bombardier CRJ-200 » Serbian best tennis player Novak Djoković after entering US Open finals (2007) » Arrival ceremony of Eurovision song winner, Marija Šerifović (2007) » Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 » B&H Airlines ATR72 at the gate A7 »
Germanwings A320 » Jat Airways B737 fleet and Lufthansa Avro RJ 85 » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2009

Jat Airways resumed flights to the Slovenian town of Portorož after 19 years, and also reintroduced Dubai. For the first time in history, Belgrade was connected with Rimini, by the Italian-based Air Vallée which launched seasonal two weekly flights with its two Do328-300 jets. Passengers had the option also to travel from Nikola Tesla Airport towards somewhat warmer destinations, such as Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh, and Cairo onboard Egyptian charter airlines like Lotus Air and KoralBlue Airlines. Unfortunately, some of the newly opened routes were short-lived and by the end of 2010, airBaltic and Aegean terminated flights to Belgrade, while British Airways, after a decade of continual service, canceled its daily flights from London Heathrow to Belgrade, and to date flight BA 888/889 has not been re-established. Also in 2010, a new, state of the art, air traffic control center at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport was opened. The new building, located next to the terminal building, has 9.500 square meters, where a total of 500 controllers can work at the same time inside the building with the ability to handle up to 4.000 aircraft per day.

After many years, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport became a base airport for a new company. Wizz Air opened its 13th European base in Belgrade in March 2011. Wizz stationed an Airbus A320 at Belgrade Airport and became the second-largest airline operating out of the Serbian capital, behind Jat Airways and introduced five new destinations: Brussels Charleroi, Eindhoven, Gothenburg City, Memmingen, and Stockholm Skavsta. Later Wizz Air added another A320, introducing new destinations and from 2021 those A320s were replaced by a larger 239-seater A321s. In 2011, the number of passengers increased 16% compared to the previous year. In 2012, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport recorded its busiest year since opening its doors back in 1962, welcoming 3.363.919 passengers, a 7.7% improvement from 2011. Also, by the end of 2012, the airport recorded 34 months of consecutive passenger growth and in the same year, a new airline started connecting Doha and Belgrade, Qatar Airways with its thrice-weekly A320-operated flights via Ankara.

New air bridges, reconstructed terminal building » Apron overview » Wizz Air base aircraft and first flights» SkyWork Dornier 328, first arrival from Bern on two-weekly service » EuroAnnie award» New buses » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2000s

After three years of renovation, Terminal 1 was reopened and used mostly by low cost and charter airlines, but that did not stop the airport from further modernization from 2010 to the end of 2013. During this period, the departure lounges in the C pier were completely expanded and renovated, as well as the departure lounges and transit areas from gates A1 to A6, the apron was expanded by adding four new open parking positions, two new gates were built for passengers boarding planes parked at remote stands, the taxiway was reconstructed, 11 devices for visual parking of aircraft were installed and 6 new air bridges were procured. Also, work was completed on the expansion of the terminal two security and passport control area. New x-ray and body scanner machines were added to cut waiting time, with Belgrade becoming the first airport in the former Yugoslavia to use specialized shoe scanners. Also, during the period of renovation, in the transit area next to gates A4-A5, the business class lounge, “Business Club” was opened, covering an area of 250 m², and seating up to 30 guests.

On October 26, 2013, the rebranded national carrier of Serbia, Air Serbia operated its first revenue flight to Abu Dhabi with its first leased Airbus A319, registered YU-APC and named after tennis player Novak Djoković. The JAT brand name became history after 66 years of continual use. Air Serbia with its hub-and-spoke system and with some ups and downs in business strategy took part in the “responsibility” of further passenger growth and airport development. Introducing a bunch of new destinations, with daily rotations to the airports across EX-YU, Air Serbia once again, like it was back in the 1970s and 1980s, positioned Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport as a regional hub in the years to come. Belgrade Airport ended 2013 as the busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia and saw its best year on record. Furthermore, Pegasus Airlines, Norwegian, EasyJet, Croatia Airlines, Etihad Airways, Belavia, and Wizz Air introduced flights to Belgrade next to Air Serbia’s new ones.

Arrival of the first Air Serbia A319, YU-APC, named after Novak Djoković » Air Serbia fleet » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2013

This trend continued in 2014, with 4.6 million passengers passing through airport’s doors with a 31% increase in travelers which positioned the airport among the 100 busiest in Europe. That same year, Air Serbia started flights from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport to Zagreb, marking the first commercial service between the two largest cities of the former Yugoslavia since August 6, 1991, with two daily flights utilizing the airline’s 66-seat ATR 72 aircraft. Also, TAP Portugal introduced services from Lisbon while Vueling Airlines inaugurated a seasonal service from Barcelona.

Olympic Air Bombardier Q400 taxing after a flight from Athens, in the back Genex tower » Air Serbia ATR72, V1, rotate, runway 12 » US Vice President’s Biden Boeing C-32 (a variant of the B757) on finals (2016) » Etihad Airways and EasyJet Airbus 320 inaugural flights » Wizz Air A320 » Montenegro Airlines Embraer E-195 » Golden Dolphins! Arrival ceremony for the national water polo team of Serbia, golden medal winners, Olympic Games in Rio (2016) » Qatar Airways from Doha (2012) » Russian Presidents’ Putin Ilyushin Il-96-300PU (2019) » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2000s

Apart from scheduled and charter airlines, Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade was and is the home to some cargo and business, taxi, aviation companies. Kosmas Air was the first privately owned cargo air operator in Serbia which commenced services out of Belgrade with an Ilyushin Il-76TD YU-AMI in 2004 followed by Air Tomisko founded in 2006 with a fleet of three Ilyushin Il-76, which was short-lived and ceased operation in 2007. In addition, foreign cargo operators maintained and still run regular and ad-hoc charters to Belgrade like DHL cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo, European Air Transport, Swiftair, and many others. The oldest private airline in Serbia and best known as the first VIP airline in the Balkans is Prince Aviation, founded in 1989 as Prince Air. Prince Aviation made its first air taxi flight from using a Cessna 421C Golden Eagle in 1993. Today, at its base at Belgrade Airport, Prince Aviation has a fleet of the most modern business jets such as the Dassault Falcon 2000LXS and Cessna 560XL Citation XLS. Also, air taxi services from Belgrade are performed by Air Pink, Eagle Express, Skybridge International Balkan as well as those who have ceased operations, such as Air Vega and Pelikan Airways. In addition to commercial operators, the airport is also the home base of the Aviation Service of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the helicopter police unit.

Kosmas Air Ilyushin IL-76, YU-AMI (Photo: Mario Nonka, » Turkish Airlines Cargo A330F » CargoAir Boeing 737-400F» Prince Aviation Cessna Citation poses at runway 30 » Air Tomisko, Ilyushin IL-76, YU-AMJ (Photo: Igor Salinger, » Government of Serbia, LearJet-35 » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2000s

As was the case back in 1978, once again, a wide-body jet with a “YU” registration, named after Nikola Tesla, took off on a 7.236-kilometer long-haul flight between Belgrade and New York JFK on June 23, 2016. Air Serbia reintroduced services between Belgrade and New York, twelve years after the last flight between Belgrade and the Big Apple and 24 years since a Belgrade-based company operated the route. Using the same flight numbers as its predecessor JAT Yugoslav Airlines (JU 500/501), the carrier introduced the five times per week flights with its leased, sole, Airbus A330-200 (YU-ARA), made up of 18 lie-flat business class seats and 236 in the economy, and put Belgrade Airport once again at world map of airports, as was the case with the first Pan Am flight, back in 1963.

Air Serbia A330-200 “Nikola Tesla” YU-ARA and YU-ARB » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2000s

As the number of passengers was constantly increasing and slowly approaching the maximum capacity of 5.5 million per year, the airport further invested in its modernization and expansion. In 2017, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport completed the upgrade of its Terminal 1 building which included the addition of 33 check-in desks, eleven retail stores, a new passport control area, commercial areas, oversized baggage check-in, a new baggage sorting facility, and an additional 475 square meters of space. This resulted in increasing airport’s capacity by 30% to close to 7.5 million. The project also included the installation of five new jet bridges, with the last gate catering for wide-body aircraft. Furthermore, two ground floor gates were opened from which passengers were bussed to the aircraft at remote parking positions. For the first time, the airport opened its new 4.8 million euro de-icing platform. The 21.000 square meter platform can cater two narrow-body or one wide-body aircraft. It includes underground storage for de-icing fluid and can accommodate all necessary equipment. All of this work was financed from the airport’s funds. In September 2017, Hainan Airlines commenced operations between Beijing and Belgrade via Prague, becoming the first Chinese carrier to maintain services to Serbia in 25 years with its 292-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft. However, those were short-lived, with the service terminated after one year and probably put the Beijing service from Belgrade as the long-haul route with the highest number of cancellations and re-establishments.

New jet bridges » new Terminal 2B zone » Zuko Dzumhur mural after restoration at T1 » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2000s

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport exceeded the five million passenger barrier in 2017, handling a total of 5.34 million travelers and continued its impressive growth, recording some 124% higher passenger volumes than the 2.38 million travelers it handled in 2009. Along with seeing exceptional traffic growth, the number of aircraft movements jumped from 42.000 in 2009 to a nearly 60.000 in 2017, while the amount of cargo handled tripled. According to ACI’s (Airports Council International) 2017 report, the Serbian capital airport was the second best-connected hub in Southeast Europe, and the number of transfer passengers using Belgrade Airport grew by over 40% during the last three years. The news that the French concession and construction company VINCI submitted the best bid for the 25-year concession for the financing, development through construction and reconstruction, maintenance, and management of infrastructure of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, valued 730-million-euro in 2018, was not such a big surprise, looking at the results achieved in the previous decade. The concession project encompasses the expansion of the airport's existing facilities by 42.000 square meters and the refurbishment of the existing terminals which will increase the airport’s maximum capacity to twelve million passengers per year. Furthermore, a newly inserted 3.500-meter runway will be built, while the existing 3.400-meter runway will be upgraded. A total of nine new taxiways will be developed, the existing apron will be expanded, and a new 55.000 square meter apron will be built. The deicing platform will be expanded by another 6.200 square meters. Landside, a new car park, with a capacity of 2.400 vehicles, will be built and new curbside/sidewalk infrastructure and facilities for departures/arrivals handling will be developed.

VINCI estimated that Belgrade will reach seven million passengers by 2024 at the latest and 10 million by 2030. A total of five new airlines launched operations to Belgrade, including Russia's Red Wings, Egypt's AlMasria Universal Airlines, and three Iranian operators in 2018, while in 2019 the French national carrier Air France resumed flights, and a new French company, ASL Airlines France introduced two weekly services with its 148-seat Boeing 737-700 aircraft. As a result, during the summer of 2019, Belgrade had up to four daily flights to Paris on select days. With ten new flights and increased frequency of the national carrier, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport hit one more record year, by handling 6.159.000 passengers in 2019, and also registered the busiest month in its 60 years history, August, by handling 757.062 passengers.

The first Boeing 737-300 YU-AND in Europe and Adria Airways Bombardier CRJ-900 S5-AAK (Photo: Uroš Mitrović, 2018) » ASL Airlines Boeing 737 water cannon salute » Hainan Airlines Airbus A330-300 water cannon salute (Photo: TANJUG, 2017) » Iran Air A320 inaugural flight» New multi-million euro de-icing platform » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, the 2000s

Records continued to break during January and February of 2020 and it looked like the predictions would come true even faster, but in March Belgrade Airport closed its doors for commercial traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After two months, scheduled and charter flights were reestablished. Since the introduction of a large number of new destinations was announced for 2020, primarily by Air Serbia and Wizz Air, most of them were not realized due to Covid restriction. Also, travel restrictions as a result of the global pandemic .have led to a significant decline in passenger numbers, to levels of the early 2000s. However, although the pandemic continued throughout 2021, the airport was experiencing significant success. First of all, in new destinations and airlines: Nordwind Airlines commenced operations from Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as Luxair from Luxembourg, Wizz Air introduced new seasonal summer flights from Belgrade to Heraklion, Santorini, and year-round services to Hamburg and Abu Dhabi, as well as SkyUp from Kyiv, while AnadoluJet deployed its B737 on a two weekly service from Ankara. Belgrade was for the first time in history connected with Rostov-on Don, as a third new Air Serbia destination during the coronavirus pandemic. After over thirty years, KLM restored flights between Amsterdam and Belgrade, marking the carrier’s return to the Serbian capital. Interestingly, the first KLM flight to Belgrade was ninety years ago, in 1931, as a part of the route to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) via Leipzig, Budapest, and Belgrade. Air Montenegro, the successor to Montenegro Airlines, performed its first revenue service from Podgorica to Belgrade in June 2021, followed by a flight to Tivat with its Embraer E195 jet. Also, carriers like Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines, and Air Serbia significantly increased their capacity on some routes by deploying wide-body jets on selected days, so the airport recorded close to 3.3 million passengers in 2021. In January 2022, Belgrade got its first domestic link since 2006, Niš, with Air Serbia’s four weekly services operated by a mix of A319 and ATR-72 aircraft.

New airlines: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, KLM, Windrose from Kyiv ERJ-145, Nordwind, AnadoluJet » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop the airport from further investment and modernization. Today, as was the case sixty years ago, in the year of the 95th national civil aviation anniversary, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is one of the largest construction sites in the country. Works on the extension of the C pier have been completed, which boasts eight new air bridge gates and five bus gates. Simultaneously, work is being carried out on the construction of the central processor to allow for up to 100 check-in counters and also on the construction of the airport’s third floor - a corridor being built on top of the existing terminal buildings to separate arriving and departing passengers. While the new E platform was put in operation last year, covering an area of almost 25.000 square meters, work on the 3.500-meter-long inserted runway is advancing and is expected to be completed in October or November. Also, the construction of the new 75-meter control tower at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is progressing on schedule which will replace an existing one that opened 60 years ago, in 1962. Hopefully, in the spirit of significant development projects, which are currently being conducted, Belgrade Airport and SMATSA will invest certain funds in the modernization of the Aviation Museum at the airport.

Future look » Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport

Celebrating its 60th anniversary today, it certain that Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport will continue to exist as a gateway in this part of Europe, as it has been since 1962.

Special thanks to Pan American Museum, Lufthansa, British Airways Speedbird Center, KLM, and Austrian Airlines.


  1. Anonymous14:45

    "Belgrade Airport became a favorite spot for Belgrade citizens, a place to go out and have fun. More precisely, the restaurant on the large roof terrace was where first espresso was served in the capital" Unbelievable, I am not sure how much I would pay for this now, let bring us back terrace. Fantastic text

    1. Anonymous16:08

      Agree. Imagen those lucky guys who witnessed landing of the first 747. Let's make some petition to Vinci management to bring back terace. Now is the best time

    2. Anonymous18:50


  2. Anonymous14:47

    Happy birthday 🥳 🎈 🎉

  3. Anonymous15:11

    Veljko, herzliche Glückwünsche. Sehr schön geschrieben. Loben !

  4. Anonymous16:05

    Great retrospective and great article, a true piece of history! Aviation and flying used to be fun and something to look forward to. When you compare the PanAm and even JAT menus from these days to nowadays service onboad Wizz or even JU Noblice then you realize that we made some steps backwards...)))

  5. Anonymous16:26

    Belgrade was in top 30 in Europe and fastest growing!!! Look at those crazy destinations Indonesia, Lusaka, Konakry. Amazing

  6. Anonymous17:19

    Excellent article! Wow, I couldn't stop reading this and it brought some great memories. Cheers to those that put this together.

  7. JU520 BEGLAX17:46

    Ex YU trumps itself once again more. Look at all this beautiful history. THANK YOU 1000000000000000000000000000000 times for all the stories and pictures. So many things I didn't know. For example I did not know that Swissair was flying with CV-990 Coronados to Belgrade and that QF had so many flights to Belgrade. This all will be printed and saved. Greetings from ZRH, our Kloten Airport will next year be 70 years old.

    1. Anonymous18:57

      Yes, I am still googling those types: tupolev 114, look at that beast, also Conovair Coronado, first time to hеаr. But then Iraqi airways, Libyan airlines, Jodan air, Zambia airways, Qantas, Pan am. Belgrade was a center of the world :) Personally, the best quote: Tesla in today-s terminology would be probably named avgeek with a # Nema dalje. TOOP

  8. Anonymous18:24

    Spectacular walk down the history lane. Even a hardcore fan learned a lot today. Page worth a bookmark. LP thank you very much for great article!

    1. Anonymous21:09

      Thanks to both Veljko for writing and ExYU for publishing.

  9. Thank you for this excellent article!

  10. Anonymous20:15

    This should have been a separate article.

  11. Anonymous20:54

    My first flight from Belgrade airport was in 1974 to Mostar with JAT Cessna 402. I also still remember in late 1987 that terminals 1 and 2, domestic and international were divided with blurred glass that still exists today on the old gates A8-A10. I am reading this text for the third time, it brings back so many beautiful memories and new knowledge. It deserves to be printed in the form of a brochure. Congratulations EX-YU, you are the best

  12. Great article! Learned a lot about the Beograd Airport. Cheers to Veljko, very well written

  13. Wow!!! Know a lot about ex-yu civil aviation history, but today learned some new things I didn't know about before. Congratulations on the anniversary to BEG, keep on with good work! And thanks to both the author of the article and ex-yu aviation for posting this great text and photos!

  14. Anonymous23:45

    Woow! What an awesome article! Thank you for great history lesson :)

  15. Anonymous06:57

    1988 I flew as a 16 year old from Dubrovnik to Belgrade Airport for $35 US. I didn't have any money to take the bus from the airport to the Slavija and the bus driver holding a cigarette gave me the nod and said "just get on mali".

    1. Anonymous08:17

      Those were times :)

  16. Cestitke Administraciji EX - YU Aviation.
    Zaista opsirna sadrzina sesdeset godina istorije danasnjeg
    Aerodroma Nikola Tesla Beograd. Prvi dodir sa tim aerodromom sam imao na letu Jatovog Boinga B707 - AGA, na letu iz Melburna. Decembra, sada davne 1971 godine.
    Prateci avijaciju i aerodrome, Beogradsk Aerodrom mi je u prva tri od 177, na kojima sam do sada bio. Sada u sledecoj sedmici bice mi 88 dolet iz daleke Australije. Na taj srcem voljenim Beogradski Aerodrom. U mojih pedeset trecoj godini letenja, i sedamdeset sedmoj godini zivota. Svak ima svoju proslost, istoriju... Beograd specificnu i posebnu.
    Jos jednom hvala na ovom retko opsirnoj prici postovani Administratoru.
    Rodney Marinkovic and Aviation Enthusiast Associate Group 😀🛫🌐✈🇦🇺🛫🇷🇸✈
    Winston Hills NSW AUSTRALIA. ✈

  17. Anonymous09:14

    A lovely piece
    Thank you for this

  18. Petar Lazarevski09:45

    Great, very detailed article! I've read so many details I hadn't been aware of.
    Maybe I've missed them, but it seems you haven't mentioned Sterling Airways and Transeuropa using their Caravelles on flights to Belgrade.
    It was nice to see that you published ten photos from my collection.
    Peter Lazarevski

    1. Anonymous10:16

      Quite interesting article. So many data and photos of airlines and aircraft. Great photos Petar, it would be great to share more photos if you have it.


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