Summer 2011 on Final Approach (Part 4)

Fourth part of the ‘Summer on Final Approach’ will look at the presence of SkyTeam in Belgrade and the changes in the schedule for the 2011 summer season.

The national carrier of Russia, Aeroflot, has operated daily flights for several seasons now. Through a codeshare with Jat the airline offers double daily flights to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

Aeroflot’s main goal in Belgrade, besides the origin and destination market, is to offer flights to Asia via its hub in Moscow. Its main competitors in Belgrade are Turkish Airlines and Aerosvit.

There are no announcements of additional frequencies for this summer season. However as Aeroflot’s A321s are becoming more common in Belgrade, we can hope that new flights will be announced by the summer season of 2012.

Air France returned to Belgrade in 2005 using their B737-3/500, however after having retired this model the airline replaced it with the A318.

Air France currently offers double daily flights between Belgrade and Paris. The morning departure is operated through a codeshare withJat, where as the early afternoon flight, at 12:40, is operated using their own metal.

With the visa liberalization the flow of passengers on the route had increased, resulting in Air France upgrading the route on certain days to A319.

In mid-summer Jat Airways will be increasing Paris from 7 to 11 weekly flights. The additional 4 frequencies are scheduled to leave Belgrade at 13:55 without Air France’s codeshare.

One of the possible reasons Air France will not be codesharing on these flights is that they are seen as seasonal and mostly introduced for the Serbian diaspora living in France. Not to mention that this flight leaves Belgrade just 1 hour 15 minutes after Air France. Regardless of these additional frequencies Air France will keep its codeshare on Jat’s morning flight.

Before its restructuring, Alitalia used to be one of the dominant carriers in Belgrade. The airline operated 4 daily flights from Italy, 1 from Rome and 3 from Milan. All in all, the airline had up to 28 weekly frequencies.

Alitalia’s loss of dominance became Lufthansa’s gain. Even though Alitalia kept its flight from Rome it could not be considered as a major player simply due to a lack of frequencies.

Throughout the winter season it operates 6 weekly flights to Rome which are increased to daily in summer. It also codeshare with Jat Airways on routes from Belgrade to Rome, Milan and Trieste.

15th December 2010 marked the end of Alitalia’s and Jat’s monopoly on the Serbian-Italian market. The lowcost airline Wizz Air launched three weekly flights from Rome to Belgrade. According to the latest statistics, passenger numbers between the two capitals rose by 63%. Wizz Air is not the only one contributing to the positive results, Jat and Alitalia recorded growth of 20%.

Belgrade-Rome sees the weakest form of cooperation between Jat and a major SkyTeam airline. Paris and Moscow both have 14 weekly frequencies where as Rome has only 11 (12 in summer). The reason for this could be that Alitalia had undergone a major restructuring process which saw its network greatly reduced.

With airlines like Wizz Air and Eagles Airlines planning new routes from Italy to Serbia, both Jat Airways and Alitalia will have to reconsider their future cooperation.

Newly arrived competition might not be considered dangerous as according to some they serve a very different market. However what both Alitalia and Jat need to understand is that even if they serve a very different market, they have taken away their monopoly and with it a certain number of passengers.

For a long time Jat Airways with its highly dysfunctional timetable offered 4 flights per week departing at 06:40. With the first regional flight arriving at 07:00 it was next to impossible to offer any connections. However, the 5th frequency, departs Belgrade at 08:00 which is perfectly timed for connections. Unfortunately Jat is no Emirates so I doubt that anyone will organize their trip around that weekly flight.

Looking at the preliminary summer schedules of the three airlines certain changes are very interesting. Jat Airways will fly to Rome 5 timer per week with an improved timetable. Flights will be departing Belgrade at 08:20, perfectly synchronized with the arrival of the regional flights. From the summer season, flights offered by Jat and Alitalia will finally make it possible to connect from Skopje, Sarajevo and Podgorica via Belgrade to Rome.

Wizz Air is also revising its schedule with frequencies being reduced from 3 to 2 per week. Departure time has been moved from 09:50 to 20:50 making this flight far more convenient for passengers coming from outside Belgrade. Wizz Air flies into Rome’s main airport, Fiumicino, with the price of one way ticket starting at 18 Euros.

Czech Airlines CSA launched flights to Belgrade a few years ago using their B737-500. Flights were operated three times per week in cooperation with Jat Airways (this cooperation has been terminated shortly after). With time CSA steadily increased its presence in Belgrade from 3 to 7 to 12 flights per week.

During the summer season CSA will resume its 12 weekly flights. Summer schedule will include a slight modification to the timetable. The flight departing Belgrade at 14:15 (arr 16:15) has been reduced from daily to six times per week. Morning flights has been changed as well.

 

Belgrade – Prague OK837

1-3-5– 05:05-07:05
-2-4-6- 07:00-09:00

 

 

CSA has changed certain departure times out of  Belgrade to 05:05, timing the arrival in Prague shortly before the morning wave of departures.

CSA is the only SkyTeam carrier flying out of Belgrade not codesharing with Jat Airways.

Last but not least, the national carrier of Romania, Tarom, had launched Bucharest-Belgrade flights shortly before the visa liberalization in 2009. With the the 2010 summer season  the airline increased flights from 4 to 5. For now the airline had not announced any change to its Belgrade flights.
Belgrade – Bucharest
RO 212   1-3—-    10:20
RO 214   -2-45—  17:25

Tarom uses its Atr-42 on the route which is in cooperation with Jat Airways.

It is worth mentioning that KLM is present in Belgrade through its codeshare with Jat on the Belgrade-Amsterdam-Belgrade route.

SkyTeam’s presence in Belgrade is not as aggressive as the one of Star Alliance. Additionally Jat Airways has a much closer relationship with SkyTeam members than with the other two alliances. This summer SkyTeam will add little changes to its schedule but nevertheless it will maintain its strong presence at the airport.