Air Serbia to expand network with new routes

Airlines Published 6 months ago on 23 July 2022 | Author TIN Media
SERBIA:

Air Serbia plans to expand its network over the coming months with the launch of several new routes, as well as the resumption of destinations previously served by the carrier. In addition to Tianjin in China, which is to launch in October, and Chicago, which is set to commence in April of next year, the carrier is also set to return to Cairo in the spring of 2023 and is negotiating flights to Ohrid from June of next year, among others. The airline’s return to the Middle East is also expected to be announced, after it suspended operations to Tel Aviv and Beirut in March 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and shelved plans to introduce flights to Amman this summer.

Air Serbia, the Agency for the Promotion and Support of Tourism in Macedonia, and the Serbian Ministry for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, have held talks over the airline’s potential resumption of flights between Belgrade and Ohrid next year. During the meeting, which was attended by the Serbian carrier’s General Manager for Commercial and Strategy, Boško Rupi?, the three sides discussed the possibility of the airline maintaining a two weekly service between the two cities over the summer months. The proposal is being supported through the Open Balkans initiative of which both Serbia and Macedonia are a part of.

The head of the Agency for the Promotion and Support of Tourism in Macedonia, Ljup?o Janevski, said, “We have seen excellent statistical indicators, showing the projected growth in the number of Serbian tourists by 500% this year. During the first quarter of 2022, the number of tourists from Serbia visiting Ohrid grew 100%. Furthermore, the number of overnight stays has grown significantly as well”. He added, “Regional cooperation is a prerequisite for the development of the tourism industry, and with the Open Balkans initiative, where boarders are being removed, we now have a market of fifteen million domestic tourists”.
Air Serbia launched a seasonal three weekly service between Belgrade and Ohrid in 2016, following a three-year hiatus. In 2017, operations were increased to four weekly. However, by 2018 the flights were discontinued amid a wide-ranging push to cut costs and rationalise its network. Back then, the airline primarily relied on transfer passengers to sustain its Ohrid service, with special fares targeting the Macedonian diaspora in Australia, many of which hail from the Ohrid region. However, the termination of Air Serbia's Abu Dhabi flights in 2017, which served as a feeder from Australia, significantly affected loads on the Ohrid route.

The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vu?i?, confirmed this week that Air Serbia plans to return to Cairo from May 2023, although he hoped "it will be in March or even a bit earlier" following talks with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in Belgrade this week. The Egyptian Embassy in Belgrade has made no secrete that it has been in talks with Air Serbia over the airline's return to Cairo. "We are in constant contact with Air Serbia, so we can look into overcoming the challenges of the pandemic and restore nonstop flights. We have conducted and facilitated numerous meetings in the aviation sector, with the aim of further expanding the network of flights and routes between the two countries. We look forward to positive results in this regard”, the Embassy said recently. Air Serbia maintained services to the Egyptian capital until the outbreak of Covid-19.