Air Serbia has been badly bruised by COVID-19, mostly because so many countries imposed long-lasting travel restrictions on Serbia as the country is not in the European Union. However, there is one route that Air Serbia is currently doing very well on: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport to New York JFK. The flights are seeing such successful loads that the Serbian national airline will operate more flights on this route in October 2020 than it did in October 2019.
A major increase in frequencies
In a press release yesterday, Air Serbia announced it would be boosting capacity on its flagship route from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport to New York JFK.
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The Serbian flag carrier announced it is going to operate 34 flights on this route in October this year. However, the airline’s booking systems are currently showing only 32 flights for all of October, so Air Serbia is presumably yet to schedule the 17th rotation on the route.
The boost in frequencies is large. In October 2019, long before travel restrictions were imposed across the world, Air Serbia operated 24 flights between New York and Belgrade, which is ten less than it has announced it will operate in October this year.
The increase amounts to a 42% increase in seat capacity. 6,096 seats were available on the route in 2019, and 8,636 will be available this year.
Air Serbia is seeing high demand for JFK
The General Manager Commercial and Strategy for Air Serbia, Jiri Marek, said that the increase in frequency follows a significant increase in demand. He said:
“Due to increased demand, we have decided to increase the capacity on our New York flights. We are very happy that, despite the [Coronavirus] pandemic, this route is still doing well and it has proved to be one of Air Serbia’s top routes”,
The reason why Air Serbia is seeing such success on this route is fairly straightforward: neither Serbia nor the United States of America has closed their borders to each other.
Donald Trump’s ban on passenger entry from the European Union does not include Serbia, as Serbia is not in the EU. Similarly, Serbia is maintaining a highly non-restrictive border policy itself, and it keeps allowing arrivals from the US to land in Serbia and spend time in the country freely.
Air Serbia has been hit hard
Despite the evident popularity of its only long-haul route, Air Serbia is not going to emerge as a stronger airline from the current crisis in the aviation industry. The Serbian flag carrier was hit hard by the European Union’s border closure, and its citizens continue to be banned from many of the airline’s biggest markets.
As a result, Air Serbia has shifted focus away from its EU destinations and is instead focusing on markets like the United States and Turkey. As is the case with the New York JFK flights, Air Serbia is boosting frequencies and capacity on its route from Belgrade to Istanbul too.
Do you think Air Serbia will feel long-term benefits from the boom in travel demand resulting from Serbia being exempt from the US travel ban? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.