Air Serbia expects to post a profit of 7 million euros in 2022
Air Serbia is expected to make a profit of around seven million euros this year, during which the carrier introduced a dozen new routes, retired its oldest aircraft and supported its second jumbo jet. Although the airline itself has not speculated on its final balance sheet, its biggest shareholder, the Serbian government, said the company would emerge from two years of Covid-induced losses with a profit of seven million euros. Air Serbia CEO Jiri Marek, however, was more cautious, telling Czech newspaper “Denik N”: “We would like to be in the dark already this year. Covid has taught us to react very quickly, which we can see even in the current circumstances when fuel prices have skyrocketed. The season was successful, but now we have the toughest part of the year ahead of us and no one can predict how inflation will affect people’s willingness to travel, for example. For now, however, we remain optimistic”.
Mr Marek noted that the airline has cut costs and sees airBaltic’s pre-Covid business model as an example. “We are looking at airBaltic, which was very successful before the pandemic. You can’t become a low-cost carrier, it’s impossible for an airline of this type. We will never be able to buy a hundred planes all at once, which is what low-cost carriers are doing to cut costs. However, we try to be efficient and have twenty to thirty percent lower costs than other incumbent carriers”. said Mr. Marek. He added: “You have to bring the costs closer to those of the low-cost carriers but give passengers a better service for which you can charge a fee. We see it, for example, on the route to Paris, where we fly twice a day and Air France only four times a week [seasonally]. We have a codeshare agreement with the French, and we are able to bring passengers to Paris cheaper than them, which is beneficial for everyone”.
Commenting further on its finances, the CEO of the company said: “In no case do we want to be dependent on the state. Our job is to be profitable and build long-term sustainability. We may be owned by the state, but we really operate like a commercial company”. Mr. Marek noted that the airline aims to become a leading regional carrier. “We perceive Belgrade as the center of the region, which is the legacy left by Yugoslavia. The country continues to develop, the GDP is increasing and we are trying to respond to it. At the same time, we try to react to what is happening around us. When Slovenian Adria went bankrupt in 2019, we immediately increased services to Ljubljana. We were the first to fill this gap. In addition, passengers from neighboring countries are also transferred on our service to New York. Apart from Athens and Istanbul, no airline operates jumbo jets in the region. This is also why we plan to extend our services to China. We want to be a regional leader, connect the area well and take advantage of the consolidation that is happening across Europe.”