The dots are on the move

As announced during the Belgrade tourism fair Jat Airways will be launching direct flights from Belgrade to Croatia and Spain this summer.

Naturally, since the airline in question is Jat Airways, the announcement could not be complete without a major flaw.As always we will take a closer look at the logic (or the lack of) in the newly announced flights.

 

Belgrade-Dubrovnik

The announcement of flights to Dubrovnik came as a small surprise to me. I always expected Jat to announce flights to Pula before any other city in Croatia.

However, if we look back, we can see that Dubrovnik Airline was the first airline to raise its voice when it came to these flights. This announcement catalyzed talks between Croatia Airlines and Jat Airways in launching flights between the two countries.

Here, we can witness the real power of money and how with just one announcement two decades of stalemate turned into synchronized timetables.

One can suppose that the actual reason why both Croatia Airlines and Jat Airways rushed to open up these routes is simply to block the entry of Dubrovnik Airline.

With both airlines having regional aircraft in their fleet, means that they can offer frequencies rather than capacity, something Dubrovnik Airline can not do.

Unless Dubrovnik Airline is really keen on entering the market and getting a share of the passengers it will need two things: good cooperation with travel agencies and good reserves of cash (just in case).

 

 

It’s worth mentioning that Dubrovnik Airline is a rare airline in the region of ex-Yugoslavia to record a profit.

 

 

We can start assuming that the un-holly alliance between Jat Airways and Croatia Airlines claimed its victory in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik Airline announced that tickets would go on sale from the 15th February, however no additional announcement has been made since then. Either the airline has rescheduled the flights to a later date (and with it the sale) or they simply understood that the market is not ready for three carriers to fly between the two cities.

Maybe if Dubrovnik Airline had kept their plans more secret it would not give enough time for the two state carriers to meet and find a solution on how to cooperate.

No matter what happens it will be the passengers who will profit in the end as now there are four weekly frequencies from Belgrade to Dubrovnik.

Belgrade-Girona

From the 23rd of April Jat Airways will be flying to Girona in Spain. Below you can find the announced schedule:

Belgrade-Girona
JU 254  -2—6-   17:30-20:10

Girona-Belgrade
JU 255  -2—6-   21:00-23:20


With the current uprisings in northern Africa countries like Spain have seen a sharp rise in bookings for this summer season.

As Serbia is no exception to the rule, Jat Airways will be introducing new flights in order to meet the growing demand.

 

 

Even though these flights are mostly introduced for the tour operators, tickets can be purchased for around 200 Euros. Girona is located some 70 kilometers north of Barcelona, hence why Jat hopes to attract some of the Barcelona-bound passengers.

However, Jat Airways will face competition from Star Alliance member Spanair, which will operate three flights per week from Belgrade to Barcelona’s El Prat airport.

It will be difficult for Jat Airways to compete with Spanair which has a better in-flight product, cheaper fares and flies directly into Barcelona.

On the other hand, Girona is Ryanair’s base and the airport is used by lowcost airlines. Jat Airways will be the only non-lowcost airline with scheduled flights out of the airport.

One might think that it will be a good way for Jat to enter the Spanish market before Wizz Air does (as they operate numerous flights from eastern Europe to Spain). However, just like Spanair, Wizz Air operates into Barcelona’s main airport, El Prat, located on the outskirts of the city. This leads us to one conclusion, this will be a purely charter flight.

Since the flight to Girona is going to be introduced for the tour operators, filling the aircraft with tourists, why fly them during such decent hours? I know it might sound harsh, but charter flights are not Jat’s priority, scheduled flights are.

In my opinion it would be wiser to reschedule these flights to after midnight. In their place revise the triangle flights from Belgrade to Tel Aviv via Larnaca.

This summer Jat will be flying six times per week to Cyprus. Out of the 6 flights, 2 continue to Tel Aviv with the arrival time in Belgrade scheduled at an ungodly hour (04:15).

The other 4 flights depart Larnaca at 11:05 and are mostly filled with passengers coming from Dubai. Jat Airways has been recording good loads from Larnaca, even if the cheapest ticket stands at 280 Euros.

What I propose should have been done is to use the two weekly flights to Tel Aviv, departing at 18:25, and reschedule them only to Larnaca.

Belgrade-Larnaca
JU 068  –3—7  18:25-21:45

Larnaca-Belgrade
JU 069  –3—7  22:30-23:50

 

With the flights scheduled as above, Jat can have the arrival to Belgrade moved from 04:15 to 23:50. At this point they can schedule the flight to Girona to depart Belgrade in the following way:

 
Belgrade-Girona
JU 254  1–4—  00:30-03:10

Girona-Belgrade
JU 255  1–4—  04:00-06:40

 
With flights organized in such a way, Jat Airways would have better fleet utilization. Their aircraft would be used as much as possible in stead of sitting on the tarmac for several hours after its arrival from Tel Aviv and Larnaca.
If Jat had a better timetable, by offering morning departures to ex-Yugoslav cities, they could offer connections to Girona via Belgrade.

As for the Tel Aviv flights, they should be granted the Girona slots in stead of the current ones. This means that flights to Tel Aviv would depart Belgrade at 17:30 in stead of 18:25.

 
Belgrade-Tel Aviv
JU 070  -2—6-  17:30-21:30

Tel Aviv-Belgrade
JU 071  -2—6-  22:10-00:10

 

The flights to Tel Aviv would see the same changes as Larnaca. Both flights would arrive at decent times making it possible for Jat Airways to schedule charter flights before 01:00.

 

 

As always, we will have to wait and see how things develop!

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