Air Serbia Announces New China Route
- by Adrian Nowakowski
- November 9, 2022
- 2 minutes read
DALLAS – European carrier Air Serbia (JU) announced in a press release that it will start flying a new direct route between Serbia’s capital, Belgrade (BEG), and Tianjin (TSN), China. This forms part of its first expansion plans towards Asia in more than 20 years.
The Balkan company feels confident to take this step, following their record-breaking results in October. They showed a clear recovery for JU from the COVID-19 crisis, with over 2.3 million passengers carried through its BEG hub.
TSN becomes the airline’s latest route after expanding its US offering with a new link to Chicago (ORD) and increasing frequencies on its new York (JFK) service.
JU’s CEO, Jiří Marek, stated, “In spite of the still limited international air traffic with China and strict rules imposed since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, our airline has succeeded in obtaining all the necessary permits and completed all preparatory activities so that we can launch flights to Tianjin in December. We hope that we will expand our network to other strategically important cities in the near future, such as Beijing and Shanghai.”
The new connection will be operated by the airline’s Airbus A330-200, painted with a special “Nikola Tesla” scheme. Another unit is expected to be delivered to Air Serbia soon from South African Airways (SA) to enlarge its long-haul network.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, the weekly rotation between BEG and TSN will make the outbound rotation on Fridays. But it won’t be able to perform the return flight until Sunday, forcing the aircraft to stay in China for up to 27 hours.
Air Serbia will be one of the few European airlines able to operate flights to East Asia, overflying the valuable Siberian airspace. This territory is, of course, controlled by Russia. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian government imposed a ban on EU airlines from operating to and over any part of its airspace.
However, the Belgrade-based carrier is exempt from this rule, as it maintains strong bonds with Russia and is not banned from flying into their airspace. JU operates seven weekly flights to Moscow (SVO), one of the only European doors for passengers into Russia.
Taking advantage of the situation, Jiří Marek added, “By launching a direct service to China, Air Serbia will ensure good connections via Belgrade to numerous destinations in its network, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Valencia, Prague, Venice, Zagreb and other destinations throughout Europe and in the wider Balkans region.” This places the airline in a solid competitive position towards other banned EU carriers.
Featured image: JU Airbus A330-200 (YU-ARB) previously flew with Aeroflot (SU). Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways.