How can you ever take this news seriously: “The Tesla Airport has lived to see Air Serbia after a makeover”. We’ve lived to see a lot of things and welcome all sorts of guests, but we didn’t expect to live to welcome not guests, but the vehicles that brought them.
It’s not as though we even made that airplane, the “A330”, we only bought it; actually, we didn’t even buy it, just borrowed it, i.e. leased it, which means it’s not even ours, but we’ve welcomed it as if it were our own flesh and blood.
It’s not even a new plane, it’s a used one. And the makeover wasn’t even completed for this occasion – as soon as it arrived, it has to go back to where it came from for “completion of equipping of the interior of the aircraft”, according to a relevant source.
So, now what? We’ve had our laughs and that’s it? But, actually, the matter is not funny at all. The fact that Air Serbia will fly to America, thus giving us a direct line from Belgrade to New York, is good news – we believe that all impediments will be removed by “D day”, June 23rd – but the question of the costs to the citizens of Serbia can’t be avoided. Because the national airline, in which we own 51% of the shares (just a reminder, the remaining 49% is owned by Etihad) hasn’t been profitable for years. Which means that we’re paying to keep it afloat. Namely, only in the last two years, Air Serbia has received financial subsidies (direct and indirect) of around 100 million EUR from the government, more precisely from the citizens of Serbia. At the same time, Air Serbia has made a profit of 6-7 million euro (quite precisely: 2.7 million in 2014 and 3.9 million in 2015). So, if it weren’t for the subsidies of the citizens of Serbia, Air Serbia would be at a huge loss. More precisely, it was, only the citizens of Serbia covered that loss from their salaries and pensions.
What will be the financial effects of Air Serbia’s latest business adventure isn’t clear at the moment. The citizens of Serbia, although majority shareholders of the company, weren’t given even the basic information: what is the estimated number of passengers on this airline, what are the expected revenues and costs and what will be its financial result at the end of the year: plus or minus?
Perhaps there’s some clue in the fact that the Mayor of Belgrade and president of Air Serbia’s Advisory Board Sinisa Mali said that one of the main reasons for the introduction of this line was to enable American tourists to come to Serbia more easily. The faith of the government in the potential of Serbian tourism is almost moving. Several months ago, when the company “Serbian airports” was founded and when airport “Morava” in Ladjevci near Kraljevo was opened (for the millionth time), minister of traffic Zorana Mihajlovic said that the new airport will accelerate tourism development, because it will enable tourists, especially Turks, to come to (South)West Serbia more easily. This soon came true and now people in Kraljevo are swimming in tourists, aren’t they.
Approximately at the same time, but in a different setting, the before mentioned Mali said that he wants to bring “only” 10% of 600 million Chinese tourists to Belgrade. When the press helped him realized the mistake he made, he “corrected” himself and said – one percent. Those big numbers… of Chinese people, euros, doesn’t matter, as long as they’re big.
Translated by Marijana Simic