In the fall of 2013, the Serbian national airline embarked on a new journey. Air Serbia was established based on a tradition spanning more than 80 years and powered by an entirely new vision and energy.
After years of stagnation, the company needed a complete business transformation. With the strong support of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, a strategic partnership was concluded with Etihad Airways on August 1, 2013, and on October 26 of the same year, the first flight of the future leading regional airline took off. An Airbus A319 aircraft with registration code YU APC took off from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi. This aircraft was named “Novak Đoković”, in line with Air Serbia’s goal of demonstrating its winning mentality and determined approach to market competition.
This marked the beginning of a period of transformation for the company, and the introduction of a new brand and name was accompanied by a complete renewal of the fleet, expansion of the network , the establishment of efficient processes and the implementation of new modern systems.
In less than a year, the fleet has expanded to include ten Airbuses, eight A319s and two A320s. For the first time in history, women are piloting the planes of the Serbian national airline.
After a quarter-century hiatus, in June 2016, service between Belgrade and New York was restored. Air Serbia has thus become the only airline in the wider Balkan region to offer direct service to the United States. This historic milestone demonstrated the strength of the commercial strategy and the realization of the vision of the national airline, marking a new chapter in its operations.
In May 2017, Air Serbia wrote a new page in its history with the takeoff of the first plane with an all-female crew. Since its creation until today, women represent half of the airline’s workforce.
After the transformation period, 2019 marks the start of the company’s growth phase. That year, Air Serbia carried a record number of 2.81 million passengers. The company operated for the first time from all three international airports in Serbia: Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Constantine the Great Airport in Niš and Morava Airport in Kraljevo. Traffic from Niš and Kraljevo started in the form of public roads. During this year, a total of 23 new destinations were introduced from these three airports.
In March 2020, expansion efforts were temporarily halted by the coronavirus pandemic, which became the largest crisis in the history of civil aviation. While the whole world was at a standstill, Air Serbia devoted all its resources to serving the country and the Serbian people. During the state of emergency, in collaboration with state authorities and organizations, dozens of special repatriation and evacuation flights were carried out. These flights brought back Serbian citizens stranded in airports and countries around the world, while foreign citizens were repatriated to their home countries. More than 10,000 people were transported during this period and numerous cargo flights delivered hundreds of tons of medical equipment and supplies to our country.
After several difficult months, the recovery period began in 2021. Air Serbia’s fleet was reinforced with two new long-haul aircraft. The Airbus A330-200, bearing the name and likeness of Nikola Tesla, joined the Air Serbia fleet in June 2021, while an aircraft of the same type, bearing the name and likeness of Mihajlo Pupin, arrived in Belgrade in November 2022. This created conditions for the introduction of new intercontinental destinations into the network of the Serbian national airline.
On December 9, 2022, Air Serbia began flights to Tianjin, People’s Republic of China. This marked the re-establishment of a regular direct service to the Asian country after a 22-year hiatus. During the departure of the inaugural flight to China, CEO Jiri Marek highlighted that the national airline is planning flights to other important cities in China.
Commercial service to China was the pinnacle of Air Serbia’s success in 2022. It was the first year since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in which the airline achieved a positive net and operating result, recording a profit of 21 million euros without a single euro. state subsidies. The good financial result was achieved thanks to efficient operations and consolidation measures implemented during the pandemic, a significant increase in the destination network and a growth in traffic volume of around 60% compared to 2021. This is a clear indicator of the company’s ability to respond. quickly and identify opportunities for recovery and growth.
On May 17, 2023, after more than 30 years of interruption, service between Belgrade and Chicago was restored from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. It was an important day for the Serbian national airline, for Serbia, for Belgrade and for the entire Western Balkan region. Air Serbia’s third transatlantic route and the second in North America proved to be significant and beneficial for passengers from the very beginning, contributing to the improvement of business, tourism and all other connections between Serbia and the States -United.
In 2023, all monthly records for the number of flights flown and cabin occupancy rates have been broken. In the first six months, Air Serbia launched 22 new destinations and operated 19,181 flights, which is 63% more compared to the same period of 2022. Preliminary financial results showed a profit of 22.4 million euros in the first half of the year, practically that of the profit for the entire year 2022. Already in the first week of September, the result of 2.81 million passengers, achieved in the most successful year of 2019, was exceeded. In mid-September, for the first time in the history of Air Serbia, the number of passengers carried exceeded 3 million.
“The last ten years have given us the means to face the future. As a regional leader, we are entering a new commercial decade. With the youngest fleet in the region, more than 1,400 employees and a clearly defined sustainability strategy, we are moving at an even faster pace, ready to adapt to any market changes, operate profitably and constantly improve our service in the interest of our passengers,” said Air Serbia CEO Jiri Marek during the celebration of the company’s tenth anniversary.
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