The return of scheduled flights between the Serbian and Croatian capital cities, Belgrade and Zagreb, from next month represents an important milestone in enhancing connectivity between the former major cities of Yugoslavia. The launch of a twice daily flight by Air Serbia from December 12, 2014 will represent the return of direct flights after almost a 25 year gap.
The route enjoys a long history with flights first being introduced between the two cities by Aeroput in February 1928 and latterly by JAT Airways from April 1947. However, the former Yugoslavian flag carrier closed the route in August 1991 as the first of the ethinic conflicts that lead to the breakup of the country began.
“The introduction of services to Zagreb is a significant and welcome addition to the airline’s rapidly growing network. The flights will meet the growing demand of business and leisure travellers regularly commuting between these two capitals and will save them considerable time in comparison to travel by train or car,” said Dane Kondić, chief executive officer, Air Serbia.
Alongside the point-to-point demand the new service will offer business travellers connection opportunities through Air Serbia’s Belgrade hub at Nikola Tesla International Airport including key destinations across the Balkan region like Skopje, Tirana, Sofia, Bucharest, Tivat, Podgorica and Sarajevo.
“The new service will also provide two-way connections over Belgrade between Croatia, mainland Europe and key global destinations,” added Kondić.
Air Serbia has embarked on a major growth since it was launched in October 2013 when United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier invested in former flag carrier, JAT Airways. In its first ten months of operation it added flights to include close neighbours of Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Bucharest, Podgorica, Tivat, Skopje, Budapest, and Sofia, many of which had not been regularly linked to Belgrade for more than two decades.
In our analysis, below, we look in greater detail at the largest O&D passenger markets in and out of Belgrade on the network of Air Serbia during its first year of operations (October 2013 – September 2014). The data shows that largest market for the carrier is Zurich (12.1 per cent capacity share), with also more than 50,000 bi-directional passengers being flown to/from Paris CDG (7.6 per cent), Podgorica (6.1 per cent) and Moscow Sheremetyevo (5.8 per cent).