Air Serbia, the national airline of the Republic of Serbia, this week reported continued improvement in its financial performance with operating revenues of EUR 95.5 million for the first half of 2015, an increase of 29 per cent over the same period in 2014.
Although traditionally the winter season presents significant challenges in traffic levels, Air Serbia broke the one million passenger mark during the first half of 2015, carrying 1.12 million passengers, over 19 per cent more than the 940 thousand passengers in the same period last year.
During H1, the airline’s passenger carrying capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASKs), increased by 10 per cent to 1.74 billion.
Despite the significant capacity increase, Air Serbia surpassed the aviation industry on-time performance standard at its hub, Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport, with an average of 84.24 per cent in H1 2015. This represents a 13.34 per cent improvement in performance over H1 2014.
Air Serbia Cargo also performed significantly better in H1 2015, carrying 1,763 tonnes of freight, a 42 per cent increase on H1 2014. Cargo revenue grew by 28 per cent, an important and burgeoning service for Air Serbia.
Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, said: “During the first half of this year we have continued to deliver against the clear commercial mandate set out by our two shareholders. These results are strong even when compared to the encouraging numbers we saw in the first half of 2014, the first full calendar year of Air Serbia’s operation.
“We are pleased that our business strategy that combines sustainable, financially prudent organic growth and development through the expansion of codeshare partnerships, continues to drive our results.
“Importantly, we have continued to grow not just in revenues and passenger numbers, but also in reputation, performance and maturity, emerging as a regional industry leader in a relatively short period of time.
“As we approach our second anniversary later this year, we continue to focus on the enhancement of our offer and the development of our people. These are areas that are most directly related to our ability to deliver on superior standards of service, the key factor for our long-term success.”
Air Serbia continued to focus on the development of human resources and employment opportunities, a crucial aspect of the airline’s overall contribution to the Serbian economy.
In May 2015, Air Serbia launched a national programme of strategic cooperation with a wide range of educational institutions to match students’ knowledge and skillsets, and the requirements of the labour market in Serbia. The programme allows Air Serbia to identify and select students who are candidates for employment. The first Memorandum of Cooperation within the programme was signed with the Faculty of Organisational Sciences of Belgrade University.
The growth of Air Serbia is also creating a significant number of new opportunities for Serbian nationals. In the first half of 2015, the airline grew its workforce by 269 new professionals. During this period, a series of employment events for cabin crew were conducted, attended by several thousand potential candidates.
Air Serbia initiated and organised the new phase of its Graduate Management Development Program (GMDP), where eight young graduates will attend a training programme with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. Starting this autumn, the program will run for two years, and upon successful completion, graduates will join operating divisions across Air Serbia. Currently, 28 per cent of Air Serbia employees are below the age of 30, in comparison to 4 per cent in the former Jat Airways two years ago.
During the second quarter of 2015, Air Serbia significantly expanded its global footprint through new codeshare agreements and the expansion of existing partnerships with airlines including Etihad Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air China and LOT Polish Airlines. For the first time, Air Serbia’s virtual network exceeded its network of direct destinations.
Muscat became the 18th codeshare destination within Air Serbia’s codeshare agreement with its equity partner, Etihad Airways. Air Serbia now serves 40 destinations directly, and an additional 41 global points through its codeshare partnerships, which include key destinations in Northern Europe, such as Vilnius, Tallinn and Riga; in Southern Europe: Heraklion, Corfu and Rhodes; in the Middle East and North Africa: Riyadh, Jeddah and Cairo and in the Far East, destinations such as Beijing, Seoul, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, in addition to a total of four cities in Australia.
Ahead of the peak travel season, Air Serbia introduced an additional ATR 72-500 aircraft to its fleet. This is Air Serbia’s sixth ATR, repainted in the airline’s full red, blue and white livery, and with a completely refurbished interior. The aircraft operates in a full Economy Class configuration of 70 seats. With the new addition, Air Serbia’s fleet now comprises a total of 20 aircraft – eight Airbus A319, two Airbus A320, three ATR 72-200, three ATR 72-500 and four B737’s flying under the airline’s dedicated charter brand, Aviolet.
Aviolet geared up for its second summer season, preparing to respond to the needs of Serbian tourists for comfortable, safe and affordable travel. Aviolet operates four rebranded and refurbished Boeing B737-300 aircraft, configured in a comfortable all-economy cabin setting of 144 seats.
In June, Air Serbia received the highly coveted “Best of Serbia” award for 2014 as the “Best Corporate Brand” in the large services companies category. Organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, the “Best of Serbia” awards are an important national acknowledgement of excellence in various aspects of Air Serbia’s operations, its strong financial results and its contribution to the development of foreign trade and tourism.