Air Serbia is to expand its international operations by a fifth in 2014 with the addition of six new destinations to its network. The carrier, formed from JAT Airways last year following an investment by Etihad Airways, will introduce flights to Beirut (Lebanon), Budapest (Hungary), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Varna (Bulgaria) from March 30, 2014, followed by Kiev (Ukraine) and Warsaw (Poland) from May 29, 2014.
The carrier will offer daily services to Budapest, Kiev, Sofia and Warsaw, while Beirut and Varna will commence with three flights a week and increase to daily frequencies from June 2014. The services to Kiev, Warsaw and Beirut will be operated with Airbus A319 equipment configured with eight Business Class and 120 Economy Class seats, while Budapest, Sofia and Varna flights will be flown using an ATR 72 aircraft.
“These new services are part of our strategy to expand into key international markets, offer more travel options to passengers, and help to increase Serbia's tourism, trade and investment links with other countries,” said Dane Kondić, chief executive officer, Air Serbia.
This growth will increase the carrier’s international network to 35 destinations and will further facilitate connection opportunities via its hub at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade. It will be the sole carrier to fly to four of these six new markets but will compete with Belavia on the route to Budapest and LOT Polish Airlines on the Warsaw service. According to MIDT data an estimated 2,000 and 13,500 O&D passengers travelled on these routes in the year ending November 2013.
Air Serbia will be the first carrier to serve the Black Sea resort of Varna from the Serbian capital for at least ten years and will reintroduce the first non-stop flights to Beirut since October 2007; Kiev Borispol since June 2011 and Sofia since March 2004.
This is likely to be the first stage of network growth in 2014 and the carrier is already considering additional markets for growth. "In addition to these destinations, which are some of the most important markets for leisure and business travel in Europe and the Middle East, we are exploring opportunities for further network growth in 2014, details of which will be announced in due course,” confirmed Kondić.