Atr vs Dash-8

Introducing a new model of aircraft into the fleet is never an easy task. Before doing so the airline needs to take into consideration numerous different challenges which it might face on the way. These different challenges vary according to the kind of model the airline plans on introducing. For example, numerous airlines that have introduced the A380 needed to make sure that both their home airport and destination airports were ready to handle them with the installation of, for example,  specialized gates and wider taxiways. When speaking of smaller aircraft, not necessarily regionals but, for example, members of the Boeing 737 family, challenges are usually smaller but not to be ignored.


The region of ex-Yugoslavia hosts a bunch of crippled airlines trying to become regional carriers without fully understanding what that means. The pack is led by Croatia Airlines which was the only airline to actually successfully replace a model in its fleet with a newer, more advanced one.

One could argue that Montenegro Airlines could make the cut but the fact that their market is far from liberated and that the airline has little competition doesn’t make it fair for us to put them in the same category.

Croatia Airlines’ replacement of their Atr-42 fleet with the Dash-8  was a smart move. Regarding their domestic market it made little difference as all flights are less than one hour. The main difference is that now they can use their fuel-efficient turboprops on the vast majority of European routes.


In Belgrade the decision on what to do with the ageing Atrs is not that easy. Jat doesn’t have the domestic market of Croatia, which means that for them it is far more important to define their business plan before making any rash decision regarding the fleet renewal.

One of the possibilities is to postpone the replacement of their B737-300 fleet and instead to concentrate on revising their regional network. With a reinforced regional network additional feed will be enabled in Belgrade and in such a way increase the average loadfactor on their mainline fleet.


As described in the previous post, there is a considerable origin and destination market between Belgrade and various areas of ex-Yugoslavia. However,  bus companies currently hold the monopoly by offering lower fares and multiple departure times.

In order to lure more passengers into flying to these destinations, Jat Airways will need to enter a price and comfort war against the bus companies. Most of the roads across this region are bad and travel times are usually very long, whereas they are reachable by air in less than an hour.

In order to be able to make a profit and still offer lower fares it would be advisable for Jat to create a subsidiary airline, similar to EuroLot in Poland.

Lot’s  subsidiary airline operates mostly on domestic flights using regional Atr aircraft. These aircraft are used both to feed Lot’s flights out of Warsaw and also to offer multiple daily departures to various Polish cities at a very low price.

Flights to Montenegro are popular due to the extremely bad condition of the road system making bus rides the equivalent of a ride to hell. That is why Jat should prioritize the resumption of the year round Dubrovnik service since not only is it difficult to access by road but it is also the Croatian city with the greatest potential.


By combining low prices with a strong marketing campaign Jat will succeed in stealing passengers from bus companies. With this campaign in place regional cities could be served several times per day, offering numerous connecting possibilities via Belgrade and at the same time giving flexibility to O&D passengers.


One main difference between Lot and Jat is that unlike Jat, Lot has a lot of Embraer jets which have enabled it to offer multiple flights per day to various European cities. Jat’s core fleet is made up of B737-300s with a total capacity of 125 seats making it difficult to offer several daily departures to various European cities.


This is where another problem arises: if Jat opts to enlarge its fleet of Atrs instead of introducing the Dash aircraft then it will be practically impossible for the airline to send them to key European routes outside the Balkans such as Rome, Milan, Zurich…

By introducing the Dash-8 aircraft they could add additional frequencies to these routes without dumping capacity on them. Double daily B737 would offer 250 seats whereas a daily B737 and Dash-8 would offer 193 seats.


The only problem with the Dash aircraft would be the lack of servicing facilities in Belgrade. Jat Thenika would have to be issued a certificate for servicing this model of aircraft.

Since it is not a secret that Jat needs a regional aircraft for longer thinner routes, which might be too long for the Dash, it would be wiser for them to spend more money in enabling Jat Tehnika to service these aircraft and to slowly start building their fleet around Boeings, Embraers and Dashes.


As always, Jat Airways needs a strategy that will enable it to reverse its falling market share in Belgrade. Unfortunately with the current management that will most definitely not happen.



One Response to Atr vs Dash-8

  1. Dan Kirkup says:

    Nice article. At first I thought I would see an in-depth comparison between the ATR and DH8 but I found your content to be informative nonetheless. I am new to the blog world and just started my own but being based in Canada the inner workings of the European companies and some of their challenges has been great to read. I look forward to reading more.

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