The airports in both Belgrade and Zagreb have seen growing demand for flights from the main gateways in the Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – which combined with transfer traffic to and from Western Europe and North America, could provide healthy loads on nonstop flights.
In Belgrade, destinations with the greatest amount of indirect traffic from the region are Tbilisi and Baku. The Georgian Embassy in Greece, which covers Serbia, has been facilitating talks between interested carriers. “Currently, airlines are interested in initially operating seasonal summer flights in order to trail the demand. However, negotiations are still taking place”, the Embassy said. On the other hand, late last year, Serbia’s President noted flights between Belgrade and Baku would launch by the end of 2023, although, at this point, there is no evidence the service will materialise. “You need three hours and ten minutes [from Belgrade] to Baku, to visit the beautiful city on the Caspian Sea. This is excellent for Serbian tourists and businesspeople but also Azeri businessmen to visit Serbia. Therefore, after Chicago, another important route will be introduced in 2023”, the Serbian President said. Air Serbia has previously also spoken about the Caucasus region as part of its future expansion plans. “We are looking at countries like Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, for which Belgrade would be a good option for connecting to Europe”, Air Serbia’s CEO, Jiri Marek, said last summer.
Zagreb Airport sees the most indirect traffic in the Caucasus region from the Armenian capital of Yerevan, followed by Baku in Azerbaijan. Earlier this year, Zagreb Airport launched a new incentive scheme dubbed “The Connecting Capital Cities Incentive Model”. Among sixteen destinations that are part of the program, airlines are eligible for incentives for launching flights from both Yerevan and Baku. The Croatian Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs has expressed its hope for the launch of operations from Baku in the coming period. “We expect a continuous rise in the number of Azeri tourists and businesspeople visiting Croatia, and vice versa. Therefore, we believe that seasonal nonstop flights from Baku to Zagreb and other destinations such as Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar or Pula are feasible”. Over the past fifteen year, Azerbaijan’s national carrier AZAL has operated charter flights on ocassion to both Split and Zadar.