When Jet Airways suspended all operations a few weeks ago, they had to forfeit their extremely valuable slots they held at London Heathrow. Now, Air Serbia is set to lease one of their old slots for an undisclosed sum.
What are the details?
Earlier this month, Airport Coordination Ltd, which is responsible for governing slot trades at London Heathrow, reported a permanent transfer of Jet Airways’ three daily slots to Etihad Airways. The transfer officially takes effect from April 28, 2019 and came just days after Jet Airways suspended their operations under the weight of high debt and a severe cash crunch.
These slots were originally leased from Etihad to Jet Airways, after Etihad acquired slots from Jet when it previously bought a stake in the airline.
According to Aviation India, it was unclear at the time what Etihad was going to do with these additional slots. Unused slots at one of the world’s busiest airports puts them at risk of being taken away. However, since then Etihad has made an agreement with Air Serbia to lease seven weekly slot pairs to them.
As of today, Air Serbia will be able to make use of additional landing capacity at Heathrow. As a result, Air Serbia is expected to add an extra seven weekly flights between Belgrade and London, bringing Air Serbia’s total weekly flights to 16.
The slot swap request was submitted on April 26th to Airport Coordination Limited, and will be in effect until October 26th. The newly leased slots will be operated by a 136-seat Etihad Airways Airbus A320, operating on behalf of Air Serbia. The schedule will be as follows:
- JU388 BEG-LHR Arrival: 17:20
- JU389 LHR-BEG Departure: 19:45
Slots at London Heathrow are hard to come by for airlines, as the airport already operates at maximum capacity for most of the day. When prime time slots open up at Heathrow, we’ve seen airlines pay ridiculous amounts to take over their previously owned slot. In 2016, Oman Air broke the record for buying the most expensive slot in Heathrow’s history at $75 million from Air France-KLM. The second most expensive slot goes to American Airlines, which bought a slot from SAS for $60 million.