Air Serbia’s plans to introduce new services to China are already in their advanced planning stages, with the company finalizing its business case for new long-haul service to the Far East. According to the “TangoSix” portal, in addition to seeking reductions in handling and landing fees at Chinese airports, the state is also negotiating a reduction in Air Serbia’s overflight costs with Russia and China. Last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said the airline would lease a second Airbus A330 and introduce services to Beijing or Shanghai if talks on reducing fees and taxes were successful. The expansion into China would also trigger the introduction of two additional weekly flights to New York and potential new service to North America.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and China’s strict entry rules, traffic between the two countries continues to recover thanks to strong trade ties between the two. Due to a lack of flights, Chinese carriers have been chartered in recent months to transport Chinese construction workers to the Serbian capital, with services from Shanghai, Xian and Beijing taking place in recent weeks. On the other hand, Iran’s Mahan Air, which currently maintains a twice-weekly service between Tehran and Belgrade, currently only deals with the transfer of Chinese passengers, which was confirmed by the Iranian ambassador to Serbia last week. . Before the coronavirus pandemic, Aeroflot was the main transfer airline of choice between Serbia and China, followed by Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.
China has become one of the main unserved markets to and from Belgrade since visa restrictions between the two countries were mutually lifted in 2017, with travel hitting an all-time high in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus. Most traffic between China and Serbia in recent years has come from Shanghai, followed by Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu. Flights between China and Belgrade were first introduced in August 1972 by Air China’s predecessor, CAAC, from Beijing via Karachi with the Boeing 707. Over the years, the stop has grown from the Pakistani city to cities like Urumchi and Tehran. In 1985, the equipment on the route was replaced by an Ilyushin Il-62 and in 1989 by the Boeing 767. On the other hand, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated its first service to Beijing via Karachi at the end of 1971 under the charter brand Air Yugoslavia with its Boeing 707, while scheduled flights were introduced in 1979.