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Jat Airways has seen its passenger numbers decline for the first time since October 2012 after it handled 61.275 passengers, down 2% on the same month last year. The news comes after the airline was forced to cut down on its frequencies and routes due to a fleet shortage. The number of operated flights decreased by 9% compared to February 2012. This February, the average cabin load factor stood at 59%, down one point on 2012. On services to Montenegro, the Serbian carrier managed to improve its numbers by 4%, though the number of operated flights did increase by 13%. This is because services between the two countries were severely affected last February due to poor weather conditions. With the number of operated flights decreasing by 13% on Euro Mediterranean flights, passenger figures also declined, by 4%. The exception were charter flights where passenger numbers soared by 78%.
Jat will hope that passenger numbers will improve with the upcoming summer season and the addition of six aircraft in its fleet. Yesterday, the Serbian Ministry of Transport held talks with Airbus in order to finalise the financial lease of two A319s and A320s set for arrival in June. Two ATR aircraft are set to arrive next month. As the summer season approaches, the carrier is also set to receive a new management team. Furthermore, talks will be held with Etihad Airways over a potential minority stake in Jat next week.
Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport was also affected by Jat Airways’ service reductions. The airport welcomed 173.396 passengers through its doors, slightly down on last year when it handled 173.606 passengers (a decrease of 0.1%). The airport managed to withstand a larger passenger slump despite the fact that it saw 2.731 arrivals and departures, or 8.6% less than February 2013. So far this year Serbia’s busiest airport has welcomed 383.446 passengers, down 1.2% on 2012.
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