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Australian Dane Kondic launches ‘New Dawn’ for Air Serbia

October 26, 2013 Aviation No Comments Email Email

Australian Dane Kondic, recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, today promised a ‘new dawn’ for the Serbian national carrier, as he unveiled its first Airbus A319 at a ceremony in Belgrade attended by more than 1000 employees, VIPs and international media.

Sydney-born Mr Kondic said the new airline would play a major role in the development of the Serbian economy.

“The new Air Serbia is good news for travelers, increasing route network choices regionally and across the globe.Air Serbia aircraft

“It is good news for the business, with new investment and a strict commercial mandate that will secure the airline’s long-term future.  And it is good news for the Serbian economy, helping to develop tourism and trade routes over the long term.”

Mr Kondic, who was appointed in September 2013, unveiled the Airbus A319, the first of 10 being delivered to the airline, showcasing the new brand for the airline.

He said that work was underway to implement changes that would improve the way the carrier operated.

“We are going to be making changes to focus everything on the guest,” Mr Kondic said.

“That means better aircraft and an enthusiastic and motivated team. It also means a network that takes people where they want to go, with easy connections.

“While we are committed to retaining and preserving our Serbian national heritage, everything else must be reviewed in order to create a national carrier that is safe, efficient, reliable, and delivers what our guests want.

“I am very excited by the possibilities and challenges that this mandate presents and I look forward to working to create a prosperous future for Air Serbia,” said Mr Kondic.

From October 26, Air Serbia will launch a new route from its hub at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, allowing easy connections to Australia through its partner Etihad Airways.

By the end of 2013, it will launch routes to Banja Luka (Bosnia), Bucharest (Romania), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Prague (Czech Republic).

Air Serbia also plans to launch another seven new routes between January and April 2014, in addition to rescheduling existing operations to optimise connections via its hub in Belgrade.  By June 2014, it will have doubled the frequencies and capacity of its predecessor, serving 43 destinations in 30 countries, with 73,000 seats on more than 670 flights a week.

Eight Airbus A319 and two A320 aircraft have been leased, the first part of a two-phase fleet modernization strategy which will give Air Serbia one of the most modern and efficient fleets in the region. The first of these A319 aircraft, unveiled today, has the new two-class configuration, with eight seats in Business Class and 120 in Economy Class.  Five more Airbus A319s will be in service within the next two months.

As a member of Etihad Airways’ ‘equity alliance’, which today includes another five partner airlines (airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia and Jet Airways), Air Serbia will also be able to leverage revenue and cost benefits including new codesharing opportunities, joint procurement, and shared training and staff development.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said: “The launch of Air Serbia marks an important new beginning for the airline industry in our country.

“Having a strong and successful airline is vital for Serbia’s future economic development and growth.  Air Serbia will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year into our economy.

“We have been able to attract external investment, in addition to our own Government commitment, to rebuild this airline into something special.  We are bringing in the best technical skills, business know-how and expertise to ensure Air Serbia evolves into a successful airline.

“Our new partner, Etihad Airways, is an airline that has grown faster than any other full-service national airline in the last decade.  Yet it has never lost sight of its commercial mandate, tripling its profits last year.  We are looking forward to that rigor being applied to our national airline.”

Following the official launch today, the airline formerly known as Jat Airways will legally trade and be branded as Air Serbia.  Its first flight under this brand and livery will be from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi tomorrow (26 October).

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will make available a US$ 40 million loan facility, which will be converted into a 49 per cent equity stake in January 2014, subject to regulatory approval.  This will be matched by an equal funding injection by the Government of Serbia.

Etihad Airways and the Government of Serbia will also each provide a shareholder loan of up to US$ 60 million to meet working capital requirements and support network development for Air Serbia.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said: “We look for partners who share our vision of best in class service, working to a commercial mandate and delivering trade and tourism into their national economies.

“The team at Air Serbia is professional, enthusiastic and committed.  With the right focus, and working with Etihad and our many strong partners, we believe Air Serbia can become a force to be reckoned with in this region.”

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