Air Serbia will take delivery of the second A330 in October
Air Serbia will add a second Airbus A330-200 widebody to its fleet in October. As learned by EX-YU Aviation News, the carrier has made the decision to lease its second twin-aisle jet. Additionally, it decided to launch flights to China that same month, pending government approval. The development will mark the airline’s first expansion of long-haul operations since the introduction of services to New York in June 2016 and its first scheduled flights to the Far East since its predecessor, JAT Yugoslav Airlines, halted services. operations to Beijing in October 2000. Furthermore, the decision came as Hainan Airlines prepares to launch its own flights from the Chinese capital to Belgrade this weekend.
Under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement signed between Serbia and China in 2016, Air Serbia must submit its application for launching flights to China to the Civil Aviation Administration of China at least sixty days before the inauguration of its operations. The request must include data on the type of services, aircraft, frequency and valid period. Any subsequent schedule changes must be submitted at least thirty days prior to the start of operations. The air services agreement also states that “the designated airlines of each contracting party shall have fair and equal opportunities to operate the agreed services. When operating the agreed services, the designated airlines of each Contracting Party shall take into account the interests of the designated airline of the other Contracting Party so as not to affect unduly the services which the latter provides on all or part of the same roads. » .
Last year, Air Serbia replaced its A330-200 jet with another of the same type, which has lower lease costs, which would have helped to shift its only long-haul service, between Belgrade and New York, to profitability. This summer, in addition to serving the Big Apple, the jet was also tested on popular shorter routes such as Paris, Barcelona, Zurich, Istanbul and Moscow. During the 2019 pre-pandemic period, China was the largest long-haul market after Serbia based on OAG data. Air Serbia entered into a codeshare agreement with Air China between Vienna and Beijing, while in 2020 the Serbian carrier renewed its special pro-rata agreement with Hainan Airlines allowing passengers to reach Beijing from Belgrade via Brussels, Berlin and Moscow. Most of these services are currently suspended by Chinese carriers due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.