Air Serbia Says Tourism Focus Behind Passenger Numbers Boost

Credit: Nigel Howarth/Aviation Week Network

Air Serbia believes that its increased focus on services to leisure destinations, together with a leap in its charter operations, is behind the significant growth in its passenger traffic.

July saw the airline carry more than 400,000 passengers on commercial and charter flights through its home hub Belgrade (BEG) and the regional Serbian cities of Niš (INI) and Kraljevo (KVO).

That figure was the greatest monthly total the airline has carried in a single month since October 2013, when it began operating under its current name; having rebranded from its former incarnation as JAT.

Not only was the number of passengers carried in July up 47% compared to a year previously, it represented an increase of 9% compared to the previous record-setting 2019, when the operator carried almost 373,000 passengers.

Air Serbia said Aug. 8 that its passengers accounted for 55% of all travelers through Airport Nikola Tesla Belgrade in July.

“The results we achieved in July are a good indicator that we made correct and timely business decisions when it comes to scheduling for this summer season,” Air Serbia GM, commercial and strategy, Boško Rupić said.

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“Here I primarily mean the strategic launching of new routes to tourist destinations, including those in Italy and Spain, which were most popular among passengers in the summer season. This result is also a consequence of the additional growth of charter traffic by approximately 37% this season, compared to 2019,” Rupić said.

“We will continue to keep a close eye on market demands and boost our capacities on most popular routes in our network, and we are certain that the stable growth trend will continue in the coming months.”

Air Serbia is planning to operate more than 1,000 charter flights over the summer to holiday destinations. Turkey is traditionally the biggest destination for Serbian tourists, followed by Egypt and Greece.

The airline reported that traditional summer destinations are seeing a significant increase in passenger numbers compared to July last year. Traffic has grown by 172% to Barcelona, 133% to Larnaca, 128% to Dubrovnik and 62% to Athens. The Belgrade-Madrid route, which was suspended in 2021 because of the pandemic, immediately reached the 2019 levels when it restarted.

The airline said there continues to be year-round demand for destinations such as London (151% growth compared to last year) Zurich (87%), Istanbul (43%) and New York (27%).

Alan Dron

Based in London, Alan is Europe & Middle East correspondent at Air Transport World.