By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi airline's chief James Hogan hails performance in 'very competitive European market'
Air Serbia, the European airline in which Etihad Airways holds a 49 percent stake, on Monday reported a net profit of €2.7 million ($3.02 million) for 2014.
In its first full year of operation, the airline’s revenues rose by 87 percent to €262 million, marking the strongest results in the existence of the national carrier, according to a statement.
A total of 2.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in 2014, 68 percent more than in 2013.
Air Serbia’s passenger carrying capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 74 percent to 3.3 billion by the end of 2014. Despite this increase the airline’s seat load factor rose by three percentage points from 64 percent in 2013, the last year of operation as Jat Airways, to 67 percent in 2014.
Air Serbia Cargo also performed significantly better in 2014, carrying 2,700 tonnes of freight, a 67 percent increase on 2013.
Dane Kondić, CEO of Air Serbia, said: “These results are a great achievement validating the effectiveness of our strategy.
“The profit we have delivered in 2014 is, above all, a great sign for the future, as it lays a solid foundation going forward and is proof positive, of what can be achieved when the right strategies and governance structures are put in place.
”We owe a debt of thanks to our two shareholders – the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Etihad Airways for their ongoing support."
James Hogan, president and CEO, Etihad Airways, added: “We are delighted with the progress Air Serbia has made in delivering on its performance objectives in the very competitive European market.
"Its continued success amidst these challenges will depend not only on continued investment in its workforce and in innovative products and services, but also on the ongoing and strict financial discipline and focus on cost which have marked its first year of operation.”
Since Air Serbia’s launch in October 2013, the airline has undertaken a number of initiatives outlined in its turnaround plan to rebuild the national carrier and transform it into a profitable, stable, reliable and strong airline to serve Serbia and the broader Balkan region, the statement said.
The airline was rebranded and 10 new generation Airbus aircraft were introduced, with eight A319 and two A320 added to the fleet.
During 2014, Air Serbia’s network of direct routes grew to 40 destinations in 30 countries.
Air Serbia's growth has created a significant number of new jobs for Serbian nationals. During 2014, the airline grew its workforce by more than 400 taking the total to over 1,900 employees.
Kondić said: “While the 2014 results are a sure sign that we are on the right path, we must not rest on our laurels and, entering 2015, we are committed to accelerating our growth. We will do this by continuing to grow our route network both organically and through an expansion of our codeshare partnerships."