Air Serbia officially announced it will launch its first long haul transatlantic flights from June 1, 2016. The carrier will run five weekly flights from Belgrade to New York with a leased two-cabin Airbus A330-200 aircraft.[pullquote]“The next long haul service could be Beijing. We talked about this”, Mr Vučić says[/pullquote]
“The launch of non-stop flights between Belgrade and New York in June next year will be a hugely proud and significant moment in the short history of Air Serbia, demonstrating the growth and ambitions of the airline. We cannot underestimate the positive impact the new service will have on the people and businesses of Serbia as we open this air-bridge to the United States, which is home to so many Serbian communities who will now have a unique opportunity to fly to Serbia with the national airline”, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić said. He noted that the A330-200 will likely be leased from an Indian carrier (presumably Etihad Airways Partner – Jet Airways). The President and CEO of Etihad Airways, as well as Vice-Chairman of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board, James Hogan, said, “In addition to creating a safe and commercially-sustainable airline, one of the pledges we made when Air Serbia was launched in 2013 was to re-connect Serbia with major Serbian population centres around the world. We are naturally delighted, therefore, to announce the launch of the New York service which, as well as enhancing business and cultural ties between the two countries, will provide a major boost to inbound tourism to Serbia. The new service shows one of the main strengths of Etihad Airways Partners. In launching this transatlantic service, Air Serbia can call upon the expertise and resources of pilot and cabin crew training, as well as fleet and engineering support”.
The CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, said the airline will offer five weekly flights to New York since the airline will initially lease a single A330-200. He noted that passengers will be offered flights via Berlin and Dusseldorf with Air Serbia’s codeshare partner Air Berlin on the remaining two days when Air Serbia isn’t be operating services with its own metal. He noted that the airline is expected to receive a permit for the flights from US authorities “any day now”.
“The launch of the Belgrade – New York non-stop service is a fantastic example of the positive impact of the Air Serbia strategic plan, which is progressing well and continues to be on-track to meet and surpass its targets. We have been asked for many months when a new United States service will start, and we are pleased now to reveal the destination and intended launch date and look forward to welcome guests onboard our flights between Belgrade and New York, offering them our world-famous Serbian cuisine and hospitality as they cross the Atlantic”, Mr Kondić noted. The transatlantic flights will be scheduled so as to offer quick connections for passengers from Southeast Europe and the Balkans.
Today’s announcement came just over two years since Jat Airways’ successor was launched and almost a year to the day the Serbian carrier made a surprise announcement it was introducing double daily flights from Belgrade to Zagreb, reconnecting the two cities with a scheduled air service for the first time in over 23 years.
This year, Air Serbia introduced a sixth ATR 72 aircraft to its fleet, opened its new premium lounge at Belgrade Airport, began the roll out of its on board wireless Internet service and introduced on-line check-in. Most recently, the carrier began a wide-scale multi-platform advertising campaign across the region, as well as CNN International, to promote its new services. Last week, Air Serbia’s part-owner, Etihad Airways, inked a Memorandum of Understating for Commercial Cooperation with Montenegro Airlines, which will see the carrier cooperate more closely with Etihad’s partners, including its Serbian counterpart.