Air Serbia was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, at an event for senior Government figures and other VIPs, national and international media, and airline employees.
The carrier’s first Airbus A319, in the new Air Serbia livery of red, blue and white, and boasting the new logo bearing a stylised Serbian national coat of arms designed by Serbian student Tamara Maksimovic, was unveiled by DPM Vučić at a glittering ceremony at Belgrade Airport.
The launch was welcomed by Air Serbia’s Chief Executive Officer as ‘good news for travellers, good news for the business and good news for Serbia’. Dane Kondić said that new investment in Air Serbia would deliver a customer-focused, commercial business which would attract trade and tourism into the nation.
From 26 October, Air Serbia will launch a new route from its hub at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, with routes to Banja Luka (Bosnia), Bucharest (Romania), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Prague (Czech Republic) to be launched by the end of 2013. These new flights add to the 29 destinations previously served by the airline as part of its 2013 summer schedule.
Air Serbia also plans to launch another seven new routes between January and April 2014, in addition to rescheduling existing operations to optimise connections via its hub in Belgrade. By June 2014, it will have doubled frequencies and capacity, to serve 43 destinations in 30 countries, with 73,000 seats on more than 670 flights a week.
Eight Airbus A319 and two A320 aircraft have been leased, the first part of a two-phase fleet modernisation strategy which will give Air Serbia one of the most modern and efficient fleets in the region. The first of these A319 aircraft, unveiled today, has the new two-class configuration, with eight seats in Business Class and 120 in Economy. Five more Airbus A319s will be in service within the next two months, with another four in 2014.
As a member of Etihad Airways’ ‘equity alliance’, which today includes another five partner airlines (airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia and Jet Airways*, subject to regulatory approval), Air Serbia will also be able to leverage revenue and cost benefits including new codesharing opportunities, joint procurement, and shared training and staff development.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said: "The launch of Air Serbia marks an important new beginning for the airline industry in our country.
“Having a strong and successful airline is vital for Serbia’s future economic development and growth. Air Serbia will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year into our economy.
“We have been able to attract external investment, in addition to our own Government commitment, to rebuild this airline into something special. We are bringing in the best technical skills, business know-how and expertise to ensure Air Serbia evolves into a successful airline.
“Our new partner, Etihad Airways, is an airline that has grown faster than any other full-service national airline in the last decade. Yet it has never lost sight of its commercial mandate, tripling its profits last year. We are looking forward to that rigor being applied to our national airline.”
Air Serbia’s first flight in its new livery will be from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi tomorrow (26 October).