Air Serbia to tap into long haul leisure market


Air Serbia is set to enter the long haul leisure market with the launch of flights between Belgrade and Havana this coming winter. The scheduled seasonal service is expected to commence by the end of the year. The Serbian carrier has also said it is looking eastwards for similar routes in the future. The carrier’s main aim is to improve the utilisation of its long haul fleet over the winter months, while benefiting from its cooperation with local tour operators, as well as transfer traffic from the region and beyond. As the airline finalises its 2022/23 winter season network, tickets are expected to go on sale in the coming month.

Air Serbia has previously explored opportunities to launch long haul flights to far-away leisure destinations but concluded there was insufficient demand. In 2016 the airline said, “There are very few destinations where you can fly the A330 that are going to be appealing to tour operators. Serbia is a price sensitive market and when we gauged interest for charters to Thailand - which is further to fly to than New York - the economics required to make it breakeven were too large. Another option we considered was the Caribbean, but that also can't be sustained from a market such as Serbia”, the national carrier’s former CEO, Dane Kondić, said six years ago.

Several years later, market conditions have changes, and figures indicate that there is a sufficient number of passengers originating from Belgrade to potential leisure hotspots. Over the last five years, Serbian tour operators have significantly diversified their travel packages, with many offering holidays to Cuba, Bali, the Seychelles, Maldives, Mexico, Zanzibar and Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Serbian government has inked a number of Air Service Agreements and Memorandums over the past few years with countries which could be of interest to potential long haul leisure operations including the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka. Based on data from global travel provider OAG, the table below displays passengers who flew indirectly between Belgrade and select far-away destinations on a single itinerary during the pre-pandemic 2019. They do not include travellers who may have opted to fly from different airports or more than one itinerary.




Comments

  1. Anonymous09:02

    Looking forward to seeing how these flights work out. With local demand and transfer traffic I think it can work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:24

      Yea it can work. Their main goal should be to attract Russian transfers, and to do something that makes them stick out with Turkish.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous09:02

    Other than Cuba, what can we expect for this winter? Maybe Male and Bali?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:03

      I don't think they will be adding anymore exotic long hauls for this winter.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:06

      I think they might have one destination in the west and one in the east. Maybe they can launch Bangkok and fly once weekly considering covid restrictions.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:07

      They won't be able to anyway. Their A330s will be fully used. Remember they will Tianjin and the plane will probably sit on the ground for 24 hours so the same crew can do the return flight. they will have 3 weekly to New York and they will have more than one weekly to Cuba.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:08

      Plus they will probably fly to Doha during World Cup once per week, maybe even with A330.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous09:09

      True

      Delete
    6. Anonymous09:27

      Imagine a once weekly A330 flight to Doha. In fact they should even do a livery that’s something similar to Qatar, except toned down obviously. Maybe just write in purple on both sides “FIFA WORLD CUP 2022”
      Something small but niche.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous09:28

      I feel like the Serbian red, blue, and white are way more “niche” and better than purple. Qatar only did purple, as that’s their company color.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous09:28

      I don't think they would be allowed to :D It's trademarked and QR has the rights to use it as the official carrier of the games.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous09:29

      +1
      I agree. It would just seem like they’re copying Qatar.
      The Serbian colors are perfect, and would show support to their Serbian teams.
      They should also organize an action to transport their athletes to and from Doha.

      Delete
    10. Anonymous09:37

      @Anon 09:28
      Can they maybe do something similar to Delta:
      “TEAM SRB” / “TEAM SERBIA”
      ?

      Delete
    11. Anonymous11:57

      I don't think they're sponsoring our team? Only official sponsors can use terms connected to championship and teams.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous09:02

    More or less they launched the route that has most traffic without any restrictions. Obviously Thailand has the most but they still have a lot of Covid restrictions and requirements. Same with Indonesia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:17

      I don't think Cuba's policy of simply ignoring Covid is working.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:20

      They are not ignoring it, they just got rid of entry restrictions like all European countries. Just to note that 90% of their population is fully vaccinated.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:51

      Oh good, as long as they’re vaccinated they’ll be alright!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous11:54

      Well I don't know what you want them to do? First you complain how they should not have opened up, then when you are told they have done the same as other countries around the world, you still complain for some reason.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous16:28

      Hopefully by next winter Thailand will ease up their restrictions. They can start flying to Bangkok, and with a codeshare partner in Thailand, good connections, and some competitive partnerships with tour operators, their flights will be a success.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous09:03

    Very interested to see what the fares will be like to Havana.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:09

      I simply can't believe that we are in a position to be talking about fares for nonstop Air Serbia flights to Havana :D

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:13

      ^ +1

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:44

      @anon 09:03

      Obzirom da putnici za egzotične destinacije nisu paradajz turisti tj. njima pare nisu problem, računaj da će Havana biti u rangu 800-1000 evra.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous09:05

    I’m placing bets on Male

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:05

      Not this winter though.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:06

      Maybe Bangkok once weekly? There are covid restrictions so

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:08

      Any destination that requires testing, vaccination, and pre registration to enter the country significantly reduces demand.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous09:08

    It also helps that the standard of living is rapidly increasing. That is why they are having so many charters every summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:09

      It also helps that Serbs are pretty richx

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:13

      Especially in Belgrade. Salaries have really gone up. A cashier in Aman is earning 50.000 now in stead of minimalac as was the case until recently.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:14

      I know right!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:30

      With 13% Y2Y inflation so far, 50k is minimalac.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous11:28

      Yap.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous11:39

      FYI, an average salary for check in and gate agent at BEG is 65k.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous12:50

      Nonsense about 50k being minimalac

      Delete
    8. Anonymous12:51

      No one said it was. Read more carefully.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous13:00

      I would say 50k is less than minimalac was a year go since food and gas prices are up way more than 13%. We are talking about disposable income, not net amount of course.

      Delete
    10. JATBEGMEL14:04

      Soo much here is soo wrong. With comments like this, one would think we are better than Japan or Switzerland.

      Minimum wage in Serbia is 47.000 din (~400€). A salary of 50.000 din, in Belgrade, is survival mode especially when the worker has a family. Median wage in Serbia for 2020 was 45.817 din. This has slightly increased since, not more than a couple thousand dinars (1€ = 118 dinars). Lower inflation and a stable dinar has made things slightly easier for the average Serbian household, but not dramatically better. This is now changing as inflation is eating into these salary increases.

      Some businesses have been forced to increase wages as nobody wanted to work for the salary they were offering. A good example is that Belgrade Airport has been looking for baggage handlers for months, with hundreds of comments about the salaries they offer.

      Unemployment is down, but so is the population. Serbia had about 7.3 million people in 2010, today around 6.8 million and further decreasing.

      Certain groups have much higher disposable incomes, but it is very imbalanced. Travel has also become cheaper which has allowed more people to travel.

      Many Serbs also have main and/or secondary incomes that are not registered with our tax department. Online workers, seasonal workers, airbnb hosts. This leaves alot of extra cash with the worker as well.

      Not to mention that alot of our foreign workers are sending money home, leaving some households with a larger amount of disposable income.

      Delete
    11. Anonymous15:18

      47.000 is not the minimalac, it's around 30.000

      Delete
    12. Anonymous22:31

      Minimalac je 35000 a od sledeće godine biće 40000. Minimalna cena rada neće imati nikakve veze sa ovim letovima na Kubu, to će koristiti ljudi koji zarađuju mnogo više para.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous09:10

    They need to promote Belgrade, to increase tourism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:13

      That's not their job but rather of that useless Belgrade Tourist Organization

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:13

      Tourist Organization needs to do that. They already do but they do a poor job at it.

      Delete
    3. Srpske drzavne turisticke organizacije su tzv uhljeb posao i sluze samo sebe radi. Povremene promocije nekih totalno nezanimljovih ili seoskih dogadjaja koji ne mogu ds privuku ni 1000 ljudi

      Delete
  8. Anonymous09:12

    Judging on previous and current statement, the question there is: are we witnessing growing living standard in Serbia?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:14

      Of course, that's why air travel is developing each year more and more

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:14

      That is definitely exciting

      Delete
  9. Anonymous09:12

    Some of those numbers definitely changed after Covid. I believe Zanizbar has become much more popular because there are no restrictions. At least I remember in 2021 many people travelled there (plus it actually isn't that expensive).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:23

      I just wonder where Serbs get the idea of going to destinations like these.
      Though it is mostly actors and celebs

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:40

      How you mean WHERE? There are few factors -
      1.You can/could go to Maldives to Mafushi island for 2 weeks flights+hotel+all meals+6 excursions for 1200 EUR per person! With all costs! You know that 2 weeks in Kopaonik are around 1500 EUR for 2? So, add 900 euros more and you go Maldives :)
      2. As most destinations were closed, Serbs were looking for places where they can go. Maldives and Zanzibar were open all the time and, as I said before, NOT VERY EXPENCIVE.

      So, it makes it easy. We use internet, we check agencies, we FLY

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:44

      I’m a Serb living in diaspora. I just always had that idea that Serbia wasn’t as developed, but things are changing. As someone here said, the living standard in Serbia is growing, and that’s amazing!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:19

      Do not be misled by the increase in air traffic, Serbia is still a very poor country outside of large conurbations. The fact remains, however, that a new middle-class is emerging in Belgrade and Novi Sad, driven largely by IT.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous17:57

      Then you should also add Cacak since it is home to 460 millionaires, 110 more than last year. ;)

      https://moravainfo.rs/u-cacku-zivi-460-milionera-108-vise-nego-prosle-godine/

      No wonder KVO is doing so well.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous21:43

      So well? Did I miss something, KVO got first commercial flight?

      Delete
    7. Anonymous22:35

      Yes you missed a lot. KVO has several commercial flights.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous09:13

    They will need really good promotions. One of the main reasons why a lot of their routes are highly seasonal, is because they do not promote them enough, and then it comes to the point where they have to put up dirt cheap fares! €299 to New York in October? Not even Norse’s flights are that cheap.
    It would also help to promote Belgrade/Serbia, to increase tourism there. Imagine tourists from around the world visiting!
    This is why they need flights to India, as there are lots of tourists coming in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:47

      I agree. The thing is there is virtually no demand in the winter to many of their destinations, especially New York (until now apparently) so they struggled.
      Jiri is seriously reshaping them, and I think with a good team working BTS, things could work out for the national airline of the Republic of Serbia in the upcoming aviation winter season.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:53

      New York loads will improve in winter because, among other things, they will have a codeshare with a US airline. They said they will announce it by the end of the year.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:36

      NYC is awful stinky during summer only April, May and September.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous12:20

      Are you kidding? During the summer they will launch daily flights!

      Delete
    5. Anonymous12:28

      It is wrong time to go to NYC like it is wrong time for Florida.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous16:25

      It’s not like there are many Serbian tourists going to NY. It’s New Yorkers coming home from visiting family.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous18:42

      As of 2017, there were approximately 3,326 Serbians living in New York City, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

      Delete
  11. Anonymous09:22

    What if instead of Havana they launched flights to Varadero, with a good connection to Havana, to further increase traffic to Varadero, and to give travelers to Cuba the best option.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:24

      I think Havana gives you more options to connect to other Cuban cities by road.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:41

      Havana is perfect as first Cuban destination - huge beautiful city, cheap AirBnb and great beaches just 15 minutes away with public bus (been there in 2019).

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:48

      Yes I agree, I just got a little annoyed? to see Varadero with only a little over 300 tourists. I agree, Havana is ultimately better, though they could offer a good bus connection with a partnership in Havana, to Varadero, and promote it.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:56

      Varadero has so few because the table shows people who travelled from Belgrade to Varadero in one go (single itinerary). The majority of people travel to Havana and then go by land to Varadero. Obviously they are not counted in this statistic.

      Delete
  12. Anonymous09:23

    I see them launching Thailand down the line. Maybe in a year or two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:52

      When the restrictions ease they will go for it. with close to 10k visitors, it is literally calling them.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:45

      Not just 10k+ Serbs. Air Serbia wil profit from huge European demand for Thailand.

      Delete
    3. JATBEGMEL14:59

      BKK a couple times a week with a codeshare agreement with Bangkok Airways would be awesome. Perhaps an interline agreement with Thai Airways would give an interesting alternative for the Balkan-Australia market as well.

      Delete
  13. Anonymous09:27

    I do believe the number of passengers to Havana is undercounted. I'm basing that on the fact that a few years ago when I was looking into packages to Havana, the tour operator was offering us flights to Amsterdam, then we had to get our luggage and check in for some charter airline to take us to Havana. So I believe quite a few people travelled this way and since it's two itineraries it would not be counted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:57

      Similar thing happened to me. In the 2000s I went to Cuba and bought a package with a tour operator that involved flying to Amsterdam with Jat and then going with Martinair from AMS.

      Delete
  14. Anonymous09:35

    For comparison Toronto has more passengers from Belgrade than all destinations on that chart combined.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:42

      Of course! The Toronto fanatics. This is a post on the winter seasonal LEISURE market.
      On every post there is that group that obsesses over Toronto.
      Canadian travel restrictions and the bilateral agreement are all reasons why Air Serbia should not launch those flights.
      Maybe later on when new management comes along and when the restrictions ease up, we will see the JU A330 at YYZ, unless of course a Canadian airline launches the flights, which is very debatable.
      Either way JU will most definitely offer good connections to Toronto (YYZ) from Chicago (ORD) so don’t worry too much, because they have you Canadians in mind, but are smart in not working directly with you.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:48

      There won't be any JU connections from Toronto to Chicago.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:49

      Why is that? How do you even know?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:51

      What?!

      Delete
    5. Anonymous09:53

      If they don’t offer a connection, they’re stupid.
      They offered connections to YYZ and ORD from JFK, though not the best.
      Could they maybe offer some good connections to YYZ from JFK?

      Delete
    6. Anonymous09:56

      They are also getting a codeshare partner in the US so that will help. I definitely think there will be some sort of connection to YYZ.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous11:32

      Passengers from Toronto would need US visa to fly via Chicago to Belgrade. Wait times for morning US preclearance in Toronto are 2 hours or more. Flying YYZ ORD BEG is not practical.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous13:03

      As far as I know, Canadians do not need visa for entering US?

      Delete
    9. Anonymous16:29

      They don't need visa but they still need to spend a lot of time for border clearance at Pearson. Even with JU-AA codeshare, passengers without Canadian passport would need US visa. Plus the backtracking from Toronto to Chicago, adds almost 3 hours total to the flight time.

      Air Serbia did not offer interline or other connections from Toronto to Belgrade via JFK for a reason.

      Delete
    10. Anonymous16:43

      Anon 09:42 said: bilateral agreement are all reasons why Air Serbia should not launch those flights.

      Air Serbia should have started 2 per week seasonal BEG-YYZ and ask for increase to 3 per week for the following year. AC has a JV with LH, so initial 2 per week limit was possibly a deterrent to protect JV.

      Delete
    11. Anonymous17:59

      Guys if there was a market from YYZ then AC, Transat or Westjet would have been all over it. Since none rushed to launch flights it means that demand is just not there. Yeah yeah AC waned to fly but there is a reason why they didn't do it in the end. Yields are trash and numbers are tiny.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous19:20

      Guys if there was a market from JFK to BEG then AA, Delta or United would have been all over it. Since none rushed to launch flights it means that demand is just not there. Yeah yeah AA wanted to fly but there is a reason why they didn't do it in the end. Yields are trash and numbers are tiny.

      Delete
    13. Anonymous16:30

      Canadian people will absolutely NOT travel to Serbia via USA. We would rather connect somewhere in Europe as we have been doing the past 30 years. Even with Air Serbia launching NY I do not know one Canadian who has taken advantage of that flight.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous17:09

      Exactly. Anon 09:42 has no clue.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous09:51

    The JU crew is definitely about to get some really dreamy layovers! In fact it was the perfect time to start hiring, with more staff needed, but also with them developing and introducing some crew-friendly destinations, I think the ASL crew will be significantly happier with their jobs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:52

      Well they had over 200 applicants for cabin crew in their last call that ended last week. So that is good news. Also they have started training all current crew for the A330 because up until now only a portion of them were certified to work on the A330.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:54

      Good! With more and more A330s coming in, they certainly need more and more crew to operate them.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:54

      Also something interesting. From 1st of October Albanian and Macedonian citizens can work in Serbia without any paperwork. They don't need work visas, residency visas or anything.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:57

      I doubt JU will hire Albanians or Macedonians. Maybe if they move to Belgrade, but it is a very low chance that they would accommodate them in Belgrade.
      Also, don’t all JU crew have to speak Serbian along with English?

      Delete
    5. Anonymous09:58

      I also heard more pilots are being trained for the A330. Ivana Milojevic, one of the females just finished training recently.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous10:00

      @9.57 I didn't mean that they would go and do a recruitment day in Skopje, I meant that someone from say SKP could apply and work for them without an issue. Most Macedonians know Serbian anyway. I was there 2 weeks ago, and when they hear you are from Serbia they just switch languages. And I'm talking about young people.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous10:01

      @9.58 yes true. BTW training is done in Istanbul.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous10:11

      ^ Deal with TK?

      Delete
    9. Anonymous11:05

      Does anybody know how many Sky AU Pairs they’re training? I’m assuming that they will be available on all long haul flights?

      Delete
    10. Anonymous11:06

      How many do they even have right now?

      Delete
  16. Anonymous10:11

    I really hope that these will be successful since we will then see them develop this concept further in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:31

      I think it will

      Delete
  17. Anonymous11:26

    Serbia don't have enough demand for such flights. Far richer Romania can't fill alone charters to such destinations and that is why flights are combined between SOF and OTP for the Maldives and Dominican Republic. I don't see it how this can be working from BEG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:30

      "Far richer" Romania doesn't have flights to the US or China either, yet Serbia does.

      Delete
    2. JATBEGMEL11:58

      I think the difference here is that it isn't going to be a charter airline operating the route, focusing 100% on the local market.

      I believe JU will schedule these as seasonal flights rather than as charters, allowing for connectivity from other destinations via BEG to HAV in this example. This option isn't possible in either SOF or OTP.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous11:33

    From Russian media today (translated)

    Air Serbia plans to fly to Havana this winter. Flights will be regular and will appear in November or early December. According to experts, the route to Havana via Belgrade may be 10-15% cheaper than Istanbul, but tickets for flights to the Serbian capital will have to be booked well in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:35

      Could you please provide the link to the source?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous15:46

      https://www.atorus.ru/node/49064

      Delete
    3. Anonymous16:22

      Thank you!

      Delete
  19. Anonymous11:47

    I see a good opportunity for either Ethiopian airlines or Air Tanzania to serve charter flights to Zanzibar (Via Addis Ababa in the case of ET) Zanzibar has become a hotbed for eastern European charter flights like LOT, Aeroflot, Pobeda and Rossya. I think it is more wise for ASL to go for a Codeshare and not exhaust its a330 for that trip. They need to focus for now on their North American market expansion and future Far East ventures.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous11:59

    Lima Peru, plenty of Peruvians in Italy, they say 2500 euros round trip in High Season.
    Ecuador the same story.
    Senegal Dakar, not that far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:21

      Eh

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:35

      They should get an A350 or two and start flying to LA, Lima, Sydney…?

      Delete
  21. Anonymous15:00

    Only time will tell if and when Air Serbia will have the destiny of Olympic airways or Malev with those strange and money needed destination choices .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous15:51

      I don't know if and when Air Serbia will go bust, but if it does, it will be long after all other ex-YU carriers are extinct.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous16:26

      Not anytime soon with the current management

      Delete
  22. Anonymous19:13

    There were numerous flights with Russian airlines to the Caribbean .
    If JU can make good deals with Russian tour operators, flights to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico ( Cancun ) or even Barbados could work .

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous21:15

    They should also add an A350-900 and start flights 1xpw to PER.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:34

      Would that work out?? Maybe they can also launch flights to Sydney with the aircraft? Or even LA?

      Delete
  24. Anonymous05:24

    I am extremely happy that AirSerbia will start flying to Cuba, a very dear destination to many Serbs. I was hoping though, that the destination airport would be Varadero and that JU will be able to offer full-package vacation deals by partnering with some of the vacation providers over there, like is the case with Canadian airlines for example (AirCanada Vacations, WestJet Vacations). For majority of tourists, Cuba is an all-inclusive vacation destination, and most travel and fly to Varadero airport. From there, organized bus transportation awaits you, one bus for each hotel on the Varadero peninsula. All hotels and vacation packages to Cuba from Canada are all-inclusive. But for those traveling to Havana, that is a different story. Mostly backpackers and enthusiasts go to Havana, while true vacationers and families go to Varadero. I wish the JU would be able to make 2 flights a week, one to Havana, another to Varadero. I think that vacation prices for Cuba would be attractive to many Serbs, despite the living standards. Those who take all inclusive vacations in Greece and other near destinations would love Cuba, i think. Plus, keep in mind that best period to visit Cuba is from December to April, as in May/June the rainy/storm season starts. December is perhaps most expensive due to western Christmas holidays. You can check the pricing for example on the sunwing.ca for travelers from Canada, which if you fly from Vancouver to Varadero, would not be much different/much farther then from Europe. Currently you can find last minute deals from Canada for about 550€ for a week all included. At that pricepoint, many Serbs would definately want to do Cuba.

    ReplyDelete

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