Air Serbia (stylised as AirSERBIA; Serbian: Ер Србија / Er Srbija) is the flag carrier of Serbia. The company's headquarters is located in Belgrade, Serbia, and its main hub is Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The airline was formerly known as Jat Airways until it was renamed and rebranded in 2013.
|Founded||17 June 1927,|
|Commenced operations||26 October 2013,|
(as Air Serbia)
|Hubs||Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport|
Niš Constantine the Great Airport
|Frequent-flyer program||Etihad Guest|
|Parent company||Government of Serbia (82%)|
|Revenue||€290.73 million (2018)|
|Net income||€11.17 million (2018)|
|Total assets||€193.31 million (2018)|
|Total equity||€0 (2018)|
Air Serbia originated in 1927 when the first Serbian company for civil air transport Aeroput was formed. 1927 was also the year the nation's capital Belgrade became the hub of its operations, with the inauguration of an international airport. Aeroput became the flag carrier of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and, by the opening of numerous airfields throughout the country, significantly improved connections between the different regions. Besides providing passenger, mail and cargo service to its domestic destinations, Aeroput inaugurated its first regular scheduled international route Belgrade–Zagreb–Graz–Vienna in 1929. During the 1930s, it expanded by opening new routes to other destinations in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Albania, and Italy. These new routes helped it position itself as a major regional airliner. Its fleet consisted in one Aeroput MMS-3, one Breguet 19/10, two Caudron C.449 Goéland, one De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth, one De Havilland DH.60M Moth, one De Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth, one De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide, one Farman F.190, one Farman F.306, eight Lockheed Model 10 Electra, six Potez 29/2 and three Spartan Cruiser II, one of which was built under licence by the domestic Zmaj aircraft factory.
After WWII, the company was nationalized and rebranded as JAT Jugoslovenski Aerotransport in 1948, thus becoming the flag carrier of the SFR Yugoslavia. Despite being a communist country, Yugoslavia broke relations with the Soviet Union and became one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. As a result, its fleet consisted almost entirely of Western-built aircraft. The carrier entered the jet age in 1963 with the acquisition of the Sud Aviation Caravelle, followed by the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 in 1969, the Boeing 707 in 1970, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1971, and the Boeing 727 in 1974. By the 1980s, JAT operated regular flights to all the continents except South America, which was planned for commencement by the 1990s. In 1985 JAT became the first European operator of the Boeing 737-300, and introduced the ATR 42 and ATR 72 in 1987 for its regional and domestic routes. According to IATA in 1988, JAT was ranked the 10th largest airline in Europe by flying to 76 destinations in 39 countries, which included long-haul flights to Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, Montreal, Toronto in the West, and Beijing, Calcutta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney in the East. Its fleet modernization plan began in the 1980s with the introduction of the Boeing 737, while its long-range DC-10s were scheduled to be replaced by either the Boeing 767-ER, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 or the Airbus A340. However, its modernization plan was never realized due to the start of the Yugoslav wars. During the 1980s, JAT also established a maintenance hangar in Belgrade and a pilot training academy in Belgrade and Vršac.
The continual growth of the company would be set-back with the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. JAT became a public company on 29 February 1992 and continued its role as flag carrier of the FR Yugoslavia.
In 2003, the country was renamed Serbia and Montenegro, and that same year the company was renamed Jat Airways. In 2006, Montenegro declared independence and Jat Airways became the flag carrier of Serbia. An aging fleet and lack of investment caused the company to become unprofitable. As a result, the Serbian government began looking for a strategic partner for the company.
On 1 August 2013, Jat Airways and Etihad Airways entered into a strategic partnership agreement under which Etihad would acquire a 49% interest in Jat Airways and its management rights for five years. The Republic of Serbia would retain a controlling interest of 51% and hold five of nine monitoring committee seats in the company. Jat Airways was then reorganized and renamed Air Serbia in October 2013. It launched its inaugural flight from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi on 26 October 2013.
On 23 June 2016, Air Serbia began operating non-stop flights between Belgrade and New York using an Airbus A330-200 leased from Etihad partner, Jet Airways. This transatlantic service became the first non-stop flight operated by a former Yugoslav carrier into the United States since 1992, when all of JAT's long-haul flights had been suspended.
Air Serbia implemented an extensive restructuring plan in mid-2017 that saw changes at all levels of the company to improve its performance. The goal was to focus on net profit, a new fare structure, new sales channels, and offer additional services that would increase efficiency. From May to June 2017, it retrofitted its Airbus A319 and A320 fleet with Recaro BL3520 seats to standardize its seating plan. This resulted in a seat capacity increase of 12%. On 24 January 2018, the carrier announced it would introduce a new pricing model that would create four different fare types in an effort to unbundle its fares. Passengers can pick from four different fare types, with each fare type determining luggage allowance, priority boarding, fast track through the airport, travel date changes, and other entitlements. On 1 March 2018, Air Serbia opened the Elevate Deli & Bar service on its short and medium-haul flights to give passengers the option of purchasing food and drinks in flight. This service replaced its previous inflight catering and offers one of two menus based on the length of service and type of aircraft operating the route. Inflight catering on its long-haul, transatlantic service remains unchanged, with passengers receiving a free meal.
Since Serbia did not impose sanctions against Russia following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the airline continues to operate regular flights to the country, creating a loophole for Russian citizens wishing to fly to Europe. As a result, the airline has faced dozens of bomb threats which airline officials have attributed to foreign intelligence agencies seeking to disrupt its flights to Russia. In April 2022, it was reported than a NATO military aircraft had trailed an Air Serbia flight as it left Russian airspace.
Originally, Air Serbia was jointly owned by the Government of Serbia, which held a 51 percent share interest, and Etihad Airways, which owned a 49 percent share interest and management control. On 30 December 2020, Government of Serbia bought up 31% from Etihad, and thus currently holds 82% share interest.
Air Serbia's key performance indicators are (years ending December 31):
|Net profit (€m)||2.7||3.9||0.9||15.7||12.2||9.5|
|Number of staff||1,488||1,370|
|Number of passengers (m)||2.3||2.55||2.62||2.62||2.48||2.81|
|Passenger load factor (%)||67||71||72.4||73.4||71.2||72|
|Cargo carried (000s tonnes)||2.7||3.8||4.9||6.2||6.2|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||19||20||21||21||20|
In May 2014, Air Serbia launched their now defunct charter brand called Aviolet (Serbian Cyrillic: Авиолет), using a fleet of 3 Boeing 737-300s under Air Serbia's IATA airline code (JU). The majority of Aviolet charter flights were operated during the peak holiday season, which runs from June to September. The first Aviolet-branded flight took off from Belgrade on 4 May 2014, flying to Antalya. As of 2021, Aviolet does no longer exist as the charter operations have been taken over by Air Serbia itself.
Formerly known as SU-Port, Air Serbia Ground Services (ASGS) was the official provider of aircraft ground handling services in the Republic of Serbia, being certified by Serbia's Civil Aviation Directorate. ASGS provided ground handling operations to passengers, baggage, aircraft, cargo, and mail. Since its founding in 2002, the company handled more than two million passengers and 8500 flights for Air Serbia and other airlines annually. It was shut down in November 2017, and all employees were transferred to Belgrade Airport.
Air Serbia Catering (ASC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Serbia. Located near Nikola Tesla Airport, the company prepares and handles inflight meals for Air Serbia, as well as other carriers flying to and from Belgrade. Founded in 1967 as part of JAT, ASC started operating as an independent company in 2005, and became part of Air Serbia in 2014.
Air Serbia has been a member of airline alliance Etihad Airways Partners since its founding in 2014. Besides Air Serbia, the alliance includes Etihad Airways, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia and Air Seychelles. Through the alliance, Air Serbia's passengers have access to a combined network of over 400 destinations across six continents.[failed verification]
As of May 2022[update], Air Serbia's fleet is composed of the following aircraft:
|ATR 72-200||2||—||—||66||66||To be retired.|
|ATR 72-500||1||—||—||70||70||To be retired.|
|ATR 72-600||2||3||—||72||72|
Introduced in October 2013, Air Serbia's livery was created by graphic designer Tamara Maksimović. Featuring Serbia's national colours – red, blue and white – the design, with its graphical elements and details, is based on Serbian art in the Middle Ages. The carrier's logo, featured on the tail, is a stylized double-headed eagle inspired by the Serbian coat-of-arms. The carrier's name and logo can be seen both on the fuselage and belly of each aircraft.
In 2013 the airline launched the "Living Legends" initiative, which pays tribute to famous Serbian citizens who have made positive contributions to society, both in Serbia and abroad. In recognition of their success, Air Serbia names each aircraft after them. Such individuals include inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla, tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, former NBA player Vlade Divac, former footballer and manager Dejan Stanković, actor Miki Manojlović, and musician Goran Bregović.
In early 2014, (Air Serbia Catering) became a subsidiary company of the airline company Air Serbia and part of Etihad Airways Partner Group.
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