Etihad Airways’ equity partner Air Serbia today launched flights to the United States, a milestone achieved with the support of, and in collaboration with, several of Etihad Airways equity partner airlines.
Air Serbia, in which Etihad Airways has a 49 per cent stake, launched its five-times-a-week scheduled flights between its Belgrade hub and New York JFK International Airport, marking a return of direct air links between Serbia and the USA after a 24-year absence. The route is being operated with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Etihad Airways, together with three of its seven equity partners – Jet Airways, Alitalia and airberlin – played a key role over the past six months to prepare for the new route launch. From engineering, fleet planning and technical support, pilot to cabin crew training, and marketing, legal and guest service backing, the true spirit of partnership and resource sharing was evident – fundamental to group strategy to drive efficiency and create synergy.
- 148 Air Serbia cabin crew have completed A330 aircraft type rating training at Etihad Airways’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi. In total, over 450 Air Serbia crew have been trained by Etihad Airways since 2013 on narrow body A319 and A320 aircraft.
- 36 Air Serbia Cabin Seniors who will be operating the aircraft as Cabin Managers were given a 3-day Leadership training course in Abu Dhabi. They also underwent specific training in Belgrade.
- Etihad Airways provided Air Serbia with 20 cabin crew to support the first three months of the New York route launch as ambassadors and to assist with onboard service delivery.
- Alitalia trained 32 Air Serbia pilots for Airbus A330 certification, specifically for the Belgrade – New York route. This included classroom training, and flight simulator cockpit training at Alitalia’s A330 flight simulators in Rome.
- Alitalia has seconded two A330 Captains to Air Serbia to share best practice and expertise on A330 operations with Air Serbia colleagues.
- airberlin has trained a number of Air Serbia pilots on other aircraft types over the years.
- Etihad Airways has supported Air Serbia by sending three flight instructors for the A330 introduction to New York. Three Air Serbia pilots are also seconded to Etihad Airways for flight training.
- Etihad Airways provides flight data monitoring and analysis for all Air Serbia flights.
AIRBUS A330 AIRCRAFT
- Jet Airways leased the A330 to Air Serbia with Etihad Airways providing technical and maintenance support.
- Teams from Etihad Airways and Air Serbia have worked together to design, source and certify the A330 interior refurbishment with various suppliers since the end of last year.
- Etihad Airways Engineering, a business division of Etihad Airways, repainted the A330 in Air Serbia’s new livery and reconditioned the aircraft interiors with new seat fabrics in Business and Economy Class, new carpets, new galleys, new lavatories and new partitions.
- Etihad Airways Engineering worked with inflight entertainment system supplier Panasonic to provide full wi-fi connectivity across both cabins.
- Up to 80 Etihad Airways and Air Serbia staff were involved in the transition of the A330 which was delivered to the Serbian carrier on June 7, a day ahead of schedule.
- Alitalia is now providing engineering support for the Air Serbia aircraft, while Etihad Airways Engineering will handle aircraft turnarounds at New York JFK International Airport.
- Alitalia is assisting with back office engineering support of the aircraft in service.
By working together in different areas of the business, the equity partners were able to drive benefits, achieve significant economies of scale and, most of all, show how the investment business model that Etihad Airways has successfully developed, was delivering results.
James Hogan, Etihad Aviation Group President and Chief Executive Officer, said the collaborative efforts demonstrated the strength of the partnership strategy.
“Cooperation and collaboration between the equity partners has been second to none,” he said.
“The Etihad Aviation Group is all about driving innovation and efficiency, and as our equity investments mature, so too, will the benefits and synergies become more apparent. By developing our unique equity strategy over the past four years, we have created a compelling alliance of partners to share business and cost synergies that are driving benefits straight to the bottom line.
“We have developed our global network significantly, and in doing so, shared massive cost synergies that demonstrate a commitment to work together to reach our goal. We invested time, effort, resource and manpower to initiate, drive and develop these relationships.
Mr Hogan, who is also Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Air Serbia, added: “The introduction of non-stop services between Belgrade and the Big Apple is a terrific achievement for Air Serbia that underlines its progress so far as well as the strength of its business strategy.
“On top of that, it demonstrates the benefits of Etihad Airways Partners, whose member airlines provided support every step of the way, with Air Serbia pilots undergoing training in Rome with Alitalia, the cabin crew completing service and safety training in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, and the A330 being leased from Jet Airways.”
The New York service has been conveniently scheduled to provide long-haul customers with easy onward connections over Belgrade to cities across Europe, working with Etihad Airways Partners to increase network reach.
The aircraft is configured with 254 seats, features menus inspired by Serbian cuisine, fully lie-flat seats and inflight entertainment systems at every seat with the latest films, music and TV shows in English and Serbian.