Air Serbia completes the sale of its last remaining Boeing aircraft
Air Serbia is arranging the sale of its last remaining Boeing 737-300, which has been grounded since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Additionally, the carrier ruled out plans to resurrect the Aviolet charter brand name, under which the aircraft operated. Over the past two years, Air Serbia has sold a B737-300, registered YU-ANK, to a university in China for training purposes. Another aircraft of the same type, registered YU-AND, would be destined for the Belgrade Aeronautical Museum where it will be exhibited, while the third, registered YU-ANI, should be sold soon.
Air Serbia CEO Jiri Marek said: “These planes were very old and at the end of their life cycle. It was difficult to make them work with the ATRs and the jet Airbuses. And it was very expensive to run them for three months a year. Therefore, during the pandemic, and also from a sustainability perspective, we have decided to retire the oldest aircraft from the fleet. We are currently finalizing the sale of the last aircraft.” The phased withdrawal of Boeing 737s from the national airline’s fleet was planned by the end of 2021, but the pandemic has accelerated their retirement. All three planes are over 35 years old.
All three jets operated under the Aviolet brand from 2014 and were mainly used on charter flights, although they were also often used on scheduled services. Between 2014 and 2018, Aviolet flights included a buy-on-board menu, which at the time differed from Air Serbia’s main service offering, did not feature a business class cabin, and cabin crew wore different uniforms. However, in 2019, this concept was abandoned by the airline and the flights operated by the three aircraft were similar to the others. “We have stopped using the Aviolet brand. We don’t really plan on using it again, but we’re keeping it anyway, you never know. At the moment, we prefer to operate everything under the Air Serbia brand,” Marek noted.
Air Serbia is continuing its fleet renewal campaign with an Airbus A320, registered YU-APO, which is expected to enter commercial service early next week. The plane has been scheduled on next Monday’s flights from Belgrade to Zurich and Milan. The carrier will also take delivery of an A330-200 later this month, along with two more ATR72-600 turboprops by the end of the year. As a result, the average age of the airline’s fleet is expected to be reduced from the current twenties to around twelve.