Air Serbia, the national airline of the Republic of Serbia, has announced ten next generation A320neo aircraft have been confirmed for its fleet. The deal is valued at more than US$1 billion at list prices.
The deal for Air Serbia, unveiled at the Dubai Air Show, forms part of the major fleet order by its equity partner Etihad Airways, for up to 117 Airbus aircraft.
The A320neo will replace the eight A319 and two A320 aircraft, which are currently being leased in order to progressively retire the aging fleet of ten Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
The new A320neo aircraft are expected to be delivered between 2018 and 2020.
The Airbus A320neo announcement follows the inaugural flight of the first Air Serbia-liveried A319 from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi on 26 October. The deal for Etihad Airways to acquire 49% of Air Serbia and manage the airline under a five-year management contract was announced on August 1.
Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, said the airline had a goal of being a world class airline and had moved rapidly to introduce the more modern Airbus A319s and A320s in order to immediately improve the travelling experience of its guests.
“The new fleet of Airbus A320neo aircraft is a key part of the strategy to re-position the airline as best in class with the most modern and comfortable single aisle aircraft. These aircraft will offer our guests the best cabin in the sky.
“With these A320neo aircraft we will set the benchmark in both product and service excellence as we extend our network to more destinations across Europe,” Mr Kondić said.
Mr Sinisa Mali, Adviser for Economy and Finance, Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia, the majority shareholder of Air Serbia, said the Government had agreed with Etihad Airways to take the aircraft for Air Serbia.
“This is good for Air Serbia and the people of Serbia, because both have benefited from economies of scale resulting from Etihad Airways’ very significant order with Airbus.
“With the delivery of these ten new aircraft between 2018 and 2020, Air Serbia will be the first airline in the region to have a modern fleet of new Airbus aircraft.
“The last delivery of a new jet to Jat Airways, the former national carrier of Serbia, was in 1988,” he said.
“Furthermore, through our partnership with Etihad Airways, a previous deposit payment made by Jat Airways, has been credited against the pre-delivery payment for these aircraft.
“This is a very good result for the people of Serbia,” said Mr Mali.
Mr Mali said the Government of Serbia’s commitment to these aircraft reflected its commitment to Air Serbia.
“We understand the importance of Air Serbia to the economic development of Serbia. These modern, well equipped aircraft are vital to the development of a reliable, customer-oriented and profitable airline.
“We have already seen a dramatic improvement in look and service quality and this deal will ensure that the airline’s growth plan is secured with the highest quality aircraft,” Mr Mali said.
Since Air Serbia has been operating it has launched a new route from its hub at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It will soon to launch flights to Banja Luka (Bosnia), Bucharest (Romania), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Prague (Czech Republic). These new flights add to the 25 destinations already served by Air Serbia.
The airline says it also plans to launch another 12 new routes to 11 countries between January and April 2014, in addition to rescheduling existing operations to optimize connections via its hub in Belgrade.
By June 2014, the carrier will serve 39 destinations in 30 countries, offering 73,000 seats on more than 670 flights per week.