Air Serbia will tap the long-haul leisure market
Air Serbia is set to enter the long-haul leisure market with the launch of flights between Belgrade and Havana this winter. Regular seasonal service is expected to begin by the end of the year. The Serbian carrier also said it was looking east for similar routes in the future. The main objective of the carrier is to improve the utilization of its long-haul fleet during the winter months, while benefiting from its cooperation with local tour operators, as well as to transfer traffic from the region and beyond. . As the airline finalizes its network for the 2022/23 winter season, tickets are expected to go on sale in the coming month.
Air Serbia has previously explored the possibilities of launching long-haul flights to distant leisure destinations, but concluded that there was insufficient demand. In 2016, the airline said: “There are very few destinations where you can fly the A330 that will be attractive to tour operators. Serbia is a price-sensitive market and when we gauged interest in charters to Thailand – which is further afield than New York – the savings needed to break even were too great. Another option we considered was the Caribbean, but that also cannot be supported by a market like Serbia,” former national airline CEO Dane Kondić said six years ago.
Several years later, market conditions have changed and figures indicate that there are sufficient numbers of passengers from Belgrade to potential leisure hotspots. Over the past five years, Serbian tour operators have significantly diversified their travel packages, with many offering vacations to Cuba, Bali, Seychelles, Maldives, Mexico, Zanzibar and Sri Lanka. In addition, the Serbian government has signed a number of air service agreements and memoranda over the past few years with countries that may be of interest for possible long-haul leisure operations, including the Dominican Republic and the Sri Lanka. Based on data from global travel provider OAG, the table below displays passengers who flew indirectly between Belgrade and some distant destinations on a single route during the pre-pandemic period 2019. It does not include travelers who may have chosen to fly from different airports. or more than one route.