Air Serbia intends on bridging the gap between its turboprop and narrow-body Airbus fleet with the introduction of wet-leased Embraer aircraft operated by Greece’s Marathon Airlines, which it eventually plans to turn into dry-leases. It has so far added one E190 aircraft, with an E195 due to enter the fleet next month, and potentially a third one in September.
Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Pawel Skuteli, Embraer’s Regional Director for Airline Marketing EMEA, said, “Air Serbia launched over twenty new routes this year. Adding Embraer E-Jets to the fleet will help to further fuel this growth. Efficient regional jets offer more flexibility and can serve as route-openers on markets that would be too thin for a larger narrow-body or too far away for a turboprop aircraft. E-Jets also help to tackle seasonality, one of the key challenges for airlines in the region. Historically, capacity in January has been at only 40% of what it is in August. Efficient regional jets are a perfect tool to maintain connectivity by replacing larger aircraft in low-demand months”. He added, “This is especially important when an airline is developing a hub just like Air Serbia is. We have seen new wide-body aircraft joining its fleet. With the increased number of long-haul flights, there will be a need for more spokes and more frequencies to feed the network year-round. E-Jets are proven hub-feeders for major airlines in Europe flying complementary to narrow-bodies from main airports, on markets that require either increased frequencies or smaller capacity aircraft. The good fit of E-Jets for the region is also validated by the schedules of other European carriers. On routes from hubs like Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, or Warsaw, E-Jets are very often the most popular type”.
Mr Skuteli noted Embraer and Air Serbia have good relations. “We have been maintaining a close relationship over the years discussing different opportunities. But Air Serbia, as the fastest-growing airline in Europe, is really in the spotlight right now. While the industry is still recovering, only now approaching pre-pandemic levels, Air Serbia succeeded in growing its capacity by over 50% vs. 2019. This is a remarkable achievement. We are very proud to see the first Embraer E-Jet painted in the Air Serbia livery. It is worth noting that Air Serbia was already using a wet-leased E-Jet from Air Montenegro, on a short-term basis over the winter season. This experience demonstrated that the type adds value to Air Serbia’s network and strategy. Now we are very happy to see more Embraers flying in Serbia and developing cooperation with Marathon Airlines”. He added, “Ultimately it is up to the airline to decide on its strategy and fleet composition. What Embraer offers is the continued support for the E-Jets E1 and the possibility to grow with the new E2 Family – the most advanced and cost-effective single-aisle aircraft. We decreased the fuel burn per seat on the E195-E2 by 25% in comparison with the E195-E1. This means that existing operators can easily transfer to a new platform while drastically cutting costs and emissions to grow in a sustainable manner”.
Marathon Airlines’ E190 aircraft is now operating on a range of routes for Air Serbia. This August it will be most commonly used between Belgrade and Rome, followed by Hamburg and Frankfurt. The E195, which still needs to be delivered to Marathon Airlines first, was initially scheduled to commence commercial operations on Air Serbia’s behalf last week, based on GDS availability. However, this was pushed back to August 2 and has now been moved to next Saturday, August 12. Based on the GDS, the 118-seat plane will make its debut on the Belgrade – Amsterdam service, followed by Tirana and then Cologne that same day. This is still subject to change. Air Serbia plans to deploy Embraer aircraft on 152 flights departing Belgrade next month or a total of 304 operations.