Air Serbia has said it is open to strategic partnerships, noting it could be one of the tools used to further expand and ensure the carrier’s long-term sustainability amid an uncertain global market. It comes after Serbia’s President said he had asked the Emir of Qatar to review the possibility of Qatar Airways becoming Air Serbia’s future strategic partner. The Serbian carrier is currently majority state-owned with a minority 16.2% stake held by Etihad Airways, which is expected to exit from the arrangement in the near future. The Serbian carrier had previously made no secret that it wishes to work closely with a larger airline. In its 2021 annual report, the carrier noted as part of its future development goals, “We will work with all major carriers in the short-term and seek comprehensive cooperation with one of the main airline groups in the long-term”.
The President and CEO of the Qatar Airways Group, Akbar Al Baker, has said the airline is not interested in acquiring others for the time being. In a statement to “aeroTELEGRAPH” at the recent ITB Berlin fair, Mr Al Baker noted, “I am not interested in any other airline investments”. Qatar Airways owns a 25.1% stake in International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Level. Furthermore, it has a 10% stake in LATAM and Cathay Pacific, while it is also expected to take a majority stake in Rwanda’s RwandAir as part of a broader multibillion-dollar aviation deal. Serbia’s President noted he would discuss his proposal with the Qatari Emir in further detail upon the latter’s visit to Serbia later this year.
Meanwhile, Air Serbia has seen the strongest start to the year since it rebranded in 2013. Last Saturday, the carrier welcomed half a million passengers since the start of the year. The airline reached the milestone on May 10 last year, while during the pre-pandemic 2019, the figure was achieved on April 20. “The demand for our flights is very good and constantly growing. We are at the cusp of the summer season, which is traditionally the busiest, and during which we will be flying to more than twenty destinations we did not operate to last year. We believe that the months ahead will bring new records for Serbia’s national airline, and an even better flight experience for our passengers. With such a strong start to the year, we expect not only to exceed three million passengers this year for the first time, but also to possibly reach three and a half million”, Air Serbia’s CEO, Jiri Marek, said.
Source : exyuaviation.com