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Air Serbia considering regional fleet options

Air Serbia is studying the renewal of its ageing regional fleet, comprising of six ATR72 turboprops, as some of the aircraft enter their 29th year of service for the carrier this summer. Both ATR and Bombardier aircraft are being considered. Plans to renew the regional fleet were made in 2017 as part of a five-year development plan. The airline has previously leaned towards the Franco-Italian manufactured ATRs, noting, “There are a few options we are looking at as part of the five-year plan. We are still wedded to the ATRs as an aircraft type because the ATR has great economics. It is not as fast as the [Bombardier Dash] Q400 and does not carry as many people but, on the short routes that we employ those aircraft, the ATR is the perfect aircraft”.

Air Serbia inherited part of its ATR fleet from JAT Yugoslav Airlines, which were delivered new to the carrier in 1990. Their overall average age stands at 23 years. The airline has previously defended its decision to keep the older turboprops in its fleet, noting, “We have three aircraft which are fully owned and cost us nothing in terms of lease costs versus three that are payed in excess of $100.000 a month. When you remove a few of the older aircraft you are adding $300.000 a month to the business without the ability to improve the revenue, so they are not easy decisions to make”. The Canadian manufacturer Bombardier previously urged Air Serbia to replace its ATRs with Dash 8s. “Looking at Air Serbia, the Q400 not only replaces the ATRs but also helps them on some routes that are longer and that are narrower, that go up to narrow-bodies, which we understand are not being flown to full capacity, which is important”, Bombardier said. The Dash 8 program is now owned by Longview Aviation Capital.

Despite significantly expanding its route network this summer and introducing an extra Airbus A319 to its fleet, as well as wet-leasing a Nordica Bombardier CRJ900 and an Etihad Airbus A320, Air Serbia has increased its overall capacity by just 4% this summer. The CRJ900 is operating an average of three rotations per day for Air Serbia, and is being used across twelve of the airline’s routes. During the peak of the summer season, in August, the carrier will have the most Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) on flights from Belgrade to New York, followed by London Heathrow, Paris, Zurich, Moscow, Beirut, Amsterdam, Athens, Larnaca, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen and Frankfurt.

Source; EX-YU Aviation News