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Air Serbia will enter the Portuguese market for the first time by introducing flights between Belgrade and Lisbon

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The announcement comes just weeks after low cost carrier Wizz Air unveiled plans to commence operations between the Serbian and Portuguese capitals in late July. Similarly, Air Serbia will run two weekly rotations between the two cities, on the same days as Wizz, each Tuesday and Saturday.

However, the Serbian airline plans to add the route ahead of its low cost rival, with flights commencing on April 15 with the Airbus A319 aircraft. Lisbon is Belgrade’s busiest unserved route in Europe based on indirect traffic passenger volumes. Tickets for the new service are now available for purchase through the airline’s website.

Meanwhile, Air Serbia has said it has high expectations for the year ahead with plans to carry over three million passengers, launch over twenty new Euro-Mediterranean routes and introduce Beijing and Shanghai to its network, with a high likelihood of maintaining services to Tianjin, launched last December, as well.

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Speaking to the “Airways” magazine, Air Serbia’s CEO, Jiri Marek, said, “Our expectations for 2023 are high. We plan to carry over three million passengers, with more than 30% being transferred (compared to 25% in 2022). Since we mentioned that there will be over twenty new destinations, with some of them already announced, we continue to work on new opportunities to be regularly added to our network”.

Commenting on its long haul expansion in China, Mr Marek said, “Our aim has always been Beijing and Shanghai but due to Covid restrictions and market access to the country, our only viable option was Tianjin, from the options available.

On the other hand, Tianjin is a good secondary niche – it is just thirty minutes by high-speed rail from Beijing, it is a large cargo port, and it also has an Airbus plant”.

The market is changing rapidly as China has reduced restrictions and we are working on adding Beijing and Shanghai but will most likely keep Tianjin as well”. Mr Marek noted that a third wide-body aircraft will be targeted for growth in China.

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The CEO noted that destinations such as Zurich, Paris and Istanbul are producing strong results for the airline. “Typically, our busiest winter routes, such as Zurich, Paris, etc., continue to deliver great results.

However, we would like to point out Istanbul for example, where three years ago we started with three weekly flightsand are already currently flying seventeen weekly, while growing towards 21 weekly flights, which makes us one of the highest-frequency European airlines flying to Istanbul”, Mr Marek said.  “We anticipate the same challenges [in 2023] as last year, which disrupted the supply chain and caused infrastructure constraints in the aviation industry, particularly within the network of European airports, which will be exacerbated by growing industrial action”.

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