A Look At Air Serbia’s Expansion Plans For 2020

Air Serbia is set to continue its impressive expansion into next year, with 10 new routes planned for launch in 2020. The Serbian flag carrier continues to make bold moves.

Air Serbia
Air Serbia is launching nine new routes out of Belgrade and one out of Kraljevo in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Air Serbia had an outstanding 2019

Up until this year, Air Serbia used to operate out of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport only. Then, it launched flights out of two other Serbian airports: Niš and Kraljevo.

Air Serbia also launched a considerable number of new routes out of its hub in Belgrade, as it continued to strengthen its international network.

Things are looking even better for next year. Ex-Yu Aviation News reports that Air Serbia is anticipating a load factor rise from 62% to 66% between January and March, presumably based on advance bookings.

New routes for 2020

According to Ex-Yu Aviation News, Air Serbia will launch new flights to Amman, Budapest, Chisinau, Florence, Geneva, Lviv, Oslo, Rostov-on-Don and Valencia from Belgrade. It will also launch flights to Thessaloniki from its third Serbian airport, Kraljevo.

On flights to Budapest, Air Serbia will be in direct competition against LOT Polish Airlines. LOT is launching these flights in May 2020, in anticipation of turning Budapest into its second hub. Both Air Serbia and LOT will be looking to pick up transfer passengers on the route, to feed their hubs.

Geneva is also going to be a tough route for Air Serbia since easyJet already flies from there to Belgrade. Geneva is very well connected to the world through Swiss, and easyJet is an established operator on the Belgrade route so Air Serbia is far from guaranteed to succeed there.

Lviv in Ukraine is another niche route for Air Serbia like Krasnodar was. Krasnodar turned out to be a strong success, and Air Serbia has already increased capacity to it to reflect the demand it receives from there. Again, the scheduling indicates that Krasnodar is a feeder route.

Air Serbia Airbus
Air Serbia is undergoing impressive expansion – again. Photo: TJDarmstadt via Flickr.

Furthermore, the increase in the number of niche routes could be a sign that Air Serbia is planning to expand its long-haul operations. These are made more viable through an extensive short-haul feeding network, which Air Serbia appears to be building up.

The scheduling maximizes capacity

Air Serbia started marketing these ten new routes on its website but is yet to put tickets on sale. However, from reservation systems, it is already visible at what times these new flights will operate.

Flights to Amman, Chisinau, Rostov-on-Don, and Lviv will be operating in Air Serbia’s night departure wave. This begins after 23:30. All of Air Serbia’s night departures out of Belgrade run from 23:30 until 00:30. The return flights arrive back in Belgrade between 05:00 and 06:00.

This means the new flights will have excellent access to Air Serbia’s network, for connections. They are timed to depart Belgrade after the evening wave of arrivals and return to Belgrade before the morning departure wave.

Air Serbia jet at airport gate
The Serbian flag carrier is building up an extensive transfer network. Photo: John Taggart via Flickr

At the same time, because the aircraft operating these routes will be doing so during the night, no extra capacity is required for these four new routes. Meanwhile, for the remaining six new routes, which will all operate during the day, Air Serbia is expected to add new aircraft to its fleet.

Simple Flying recently asked the question of whether Air Serbia could choose Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft for this required extra capacity. In fact, the airline could replace its entire fleet of smaller Boeing and Airbus aircraft with Sukhoi metal, and its hub in Belgrade could become the designated maintenance center for the SSJ.

What remains certain is that a successful European carrier like Air Serbia would be the best way for Sukhoi to demonstrate that the SSJ is a viable fleet choice. Will this be the case?