Air Serbia’s Chinese mission

posted on 5th June 2023
Air Serbia’s Chinese mission

Belgrade-based Air Serbia is confident it can begin its second Chinese service by Spring 2024 at the latest as it negotiates with local bodies about obtaining slots to fly to Shanghai, the carrier’s Chief Executive, Jiri Marek, told ARGS in Lodz.
The carrier has obtained traffic rights for a Shanghai service and is working on bringing in a further two Airbus A330-200s to add to the two it is already operating, said Marek. These will give it the capability to begin the Shanghai route and a fifth is planned shortly afterwards as it eyes a further two Chinese destinations, he added.
A no-visa regime between the two countries, strong tourism links and inbound investment from China, prompted Air Serbia to start its first route from Beijing to Tianjin in December 2022. Tianjin is a 30-minute high-speed rail link from Beijing, said Marek. The Tianjin service is currently a single weekly flight.
Air Serbia also serves New York and Chicago as part of its long-haul network from Belgrade. It opened 22 routes this summer on the back of strong leisure and VFR traffic demand, which has seen the carrier return to 2019 traffic levels and post a profit in 2022, said Marek.
With its fleet of five ATR72-600s and 13 A319s/320s Air Serbia delivers regional feed to its Belgrade hub. A strong first few months of 2023, with the carrier already 15% over budget, makes Marek “very optimistic” for its performance this year.
Air Serbia is majority owned by the state, and although Etihad Airways still retains a 16% share, which dates to that carrier’s expansive airline acquisition strategy in the 2010s, it has no management input, said Marek.