Flights between Belgrade and Beijing are set to resume mid next year and are to be operated by another carrier, replacing Hainan Airlines which will run its last service between the two capital cities via Prague today. Although the name of the future operator is yet to be disclosed, Serbian representatives at last week’s China International Travel Mart Fair in Shanghai noted that flights will be operated nonstop with similar equipment to that used by Hainan Airlines. The Chinese carrier has been utilising an Airbus A330-300 jet on the route since its launch just over a year ago. According to Serbian representatives, the flights will facilitate the continued growth in business ties, as well as tourism between the two countries. During the first three quarters of the year, 77.543 Chinese nationals visited Serbia, while a total of 134.852 overnight stays were recorded, up 94% on the same period in 2017.
Previously, Air Serbia and Air China had expressed interest in operating flights between the two countries. Last year, the Serbian national carrier said, “China is not only important to the continued expansion of Air Serbia, but is also important to the development of Serbia and the Balkans region. We will reintroduce Belgrade as an affordable and convenient gateway to Europe, and build greater awareness of Air Serbia as the airline of choice to the Balkan Peninsula and Southeastern Europe for Chinese travellers”. Air Serbia currently codeshares with Air China on its flights between Vienna and Beijing, as well as Hainan Airlines on its service between Prague and the Chinese capital. Furthermore, Air Serbia also has special prorate agreements (SPA) in place on all of Etihad Airways’ flights out of China, as well with China Southern, Xiamen Airlines and Hainan Airlines. Its predecessor, JAT Yugoslav Airlines launched services to Beijing in 1979 and operated its final flight to the city in late 2000.
On the other hand, Air China said last year that flights to Belgrade were “looking very promising”. It added, “It all depends on an agreement between the Serbian Prime Minister and our Prime Minister. We hope to spread our wings to Belgrade very soon”. Services between the two cities were initially launched from Beijing in 1972 by Air China’s predecessor CAAC and were operated with an Ilyushin Il-62 via Karachi. Later on, the flights were upgraded to a Boeing 707 and ultimately a B767. Flights continued on to Budapest and Zurich, depending on the year of operation. They were discontinued upon the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.
Source; EX-YU Aviation News
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