Belgrade in Serbia and Chicago in the US will be connected by nonstop flights from next summer for the first time in more than three decades.
Air Serbia has confirmed that it plans to start a route between the cities starting on May 17, initially operating twice a week using Airbus A330 aircraft. The Belgrade (BEG)-Chicago O’Hare (ORD) route will then increase to 3X-weekly from June 12.
“[Chicago] is an extremely important city and we are certain that direct flights between Belgrade and Chicago will mean a lot not just to the Serbian diaspora, but also to the wider Balkans region,” Air Serbia VP for the Americas George Petković said.
According to estimates, there are about 350,000 residents of Serbian origin in the Chicago vicinity, as well as inhabitants hailing from other countries of the former Yugoslavia and neighboring Balkan states.
Figures provided by Sabre Market Intelligence show that the Serbia-US market attracted 239,000 two-way O&D passengers during 2019—almost 85% of whom traveled indirectly. Belgrade-New York was the largest city pair, accounting for about 61,400 two-way passengers, while Belgrade-Chicago was the second biggest market with 38,000 two-way passengers.
Air Serbia said that passengers traveling from Chicago will be able to connect via Belgrade to other cities in its network, including Berlin, Bucharest, Prague and Sarajevo. In addition, the airline’s interline partnership with American Airlines and JetBlue will offer onward connections from Chicago.
At the present time, Air Serbia offers one US route, flying between Belgrade and New York John F Kennedy (JFK) twice a week. The latest schedules filed with OAG show the carrier intends to serve the route up to 6X-weekly during the summer 2023 season.
Chicago becomes the second new long-haul route to be confirmed by the airline this month. From Dec. 9, flights will begin from Belgrade to Tianjin (TSN) in China, operating once a week using an A330-200.
The service will see the national carrier re-establish direct flights to China for the first time since October 2000 when predecessor JAT Airways ended its link to Beijing. However, Air Serbia is no stranger to China as the airline operated dozens of cargo flights during the pandemic in 2020, transporting medical devices and equipment to Serbia.