Air Serbia will axe its own flights to Abu Dhabi, the home base of its strategic shareholder Etihad Airways, as it shifts the focus of its five-year plan to denser short-haul flying.

Belgrade-based Air Serbia will suspend the Abu Dhabi route from Oct. 29, although Etihad will continue to operate daily codeshare flights.

Air Serbia CEO Dane Kondić said the move will allow Air Serbia to redeploy the Airbus A319, currently serving Abu Dhabi, on shorter routes to maximize returns and utilization.

“After conducting an extensive review of our five-year business plan, we have taken the decision to consolidate our network by focusing on our European routes,” Kondić said in a statement released May 3.

The strategic shift will also see Air Serbia increase the seat density on its A319s and A320s by installing slimmer seats to increase capacity.

“These steps will increase revenue and help to balance the seasonal fluctuations in our traffic, enabling Air Serbia to keep up a strong pace of growth and mitigate the escalating cost of fuel and other services in the aviation industry,” Kondić said

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com