Even the most experienced aviation experts find it difficult to determine how many flights have been cancelled yesterday because the national airline Air Serbia did not display that information on the Belgrade Airport website, civil aviation expert Alen Šćuric tells N1.
He states that, based on the comparison of data from different sources, it is most likely 11 flights or 14.3% of all Air Serbia flights that day.
If you check the website of the Belgrade airport, you can see that all the listed Air Serbia planes, despite numerous delays, took off as planned. However, if you look for the same information on other platforms, such as Flightradar24.com, you will find that flights to Prague, Budapest, Zurich, Bucharest, Sofia, Krakow… and the list goes on, have been cancelled.
We asked the national airline to clarify but did not receive a response.
“The airport is not obliged to correct the mistakes of the airlines. The question is in which way an airline informs the airport when it informs it, and what it gives as information. The airport can only receive that information passively, and can react,” Predrag Vujović, former director of JAT, told N1.
Šćurić says that passengers should not rely solely on the information on the Belgrade airport’s website but should do their own research.
The former director of JAT (the predecessor of Air Serbia), Predrag Vujović, says that what happened yesterday, with 11 flights cancelled, has not happened in civil aviation since the Second World War.
“Everything that happened yesterday is hard to believe. Air Serbia’s explanation for it is also hard to believe. To say that chartered passenger planes have not arrived is equally incredible. Well, those companies that were supposed to deliver planes to Air Serbia had to report on time, and they did because they do it for the sake of their own reputation. Air Serbia’s explanation was late because the company certainly knew what was happening and everything happened earlier, before Saturday evening. But it was only when passengers found out on social media that flights were cancelled or delayed, Air Serbia started to panic and came up with the explanation,” said Vujović.
He also explained that what Air Serbia is doing – renting out the entire fleet – is very bad as no other company in Europe does that.
“Air Serbia does not own a single plane, as the entire fleet is leased. JAT used to own 70 percent of the fleet. In European airlines, that ratio is between 60 and 40 in favour of their own fleet. When you rent an aeroplane, you pay much more than if you just buy it”, Vujović added.
He also went on to say that when a plane is rented, the owner of the plane actually determines when you will be able to use it.
“Air Serbia has launched 43 new flights. Big airlines would never do that. You need to have the professional capacity to be able to do it, and with Air Serbia, it has no logic whatsoever. They have six flights to Croatia, while none of the Croatian airlines fly to Serbia. We fly seven times to Germany, and Lufthansa has only two flights to Serbia. These flights are not profitable for Air Serbia,” Vujović warned.
Regarding the very slow check-in and long queues at Belgrade airport, one of the reasons is definitely the new design of the passenger terminal which is still not fully utilized. Another problem is the border police, with only two out of eight passport checkpoints being opened, particularly during the morning rush hour. Also, post-pandemic, there has been a huge increase in the number of people flying and a big increase in the number of passengers who are using the Belgrade airport just for transfer –40% of the passengers of the Serbian national airline use its planes just for transfer.
(N1, Tango Six, 20.06.2023)
This post is also available in: Italiano