Air Serbia reported a 2015 net profit of €3.9 million ($4.4 million), up 44% compared to a €2.7 million net profit in 2014.
The Serbia flag carrier said the full-year results were achieved on the back of “significant growth” in passenger numbers, which increased 11% to 2.55 million year-over-year (YOY). Load factor rose 4 percentage points to 71% andASKs grew 6% to 3.65 billion YOY.
Air Serbia—which was rebranded from the former JAT Airways after Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways took a 49% stake in the airline in 2013—is a member of Etihad’s network of equity partner airlines.
The Belgrade-based carrier has also significantly increasedcodeshare partnerships in recent years and saidcodeshares contributed €21.5 million to the 2015 results.
“Last year, we consolidated and built depth into our European network and are now in a position to expand it regionally and across the Atlantic, CEO Dane Kondić said. “Our strategy in 2016 is to strengthen the network further by taking advantage of Belgrade’s position as the gateway to the Balkans and capturing regional traffic flows to the United States.”
Further expansion is scheduled in the coming year, supervisory board president Sinia Mali said. “Air Serbia will this summer expand its network to five new markets, including New York, opening the doors for more growth, increasing Serbia’s brand visibility and laying the groundwork for the airline to make an even bigger contribution to the national economy in 2016.”
Prior to Etihad’s involvement, JAT had been perennially loss-making, creating a drain on the small Balkan nation’s exchequer.
The carrier, having slimmed down substantially by cutting layers of administrative staff at the start of its turnaround plan, is expanding again and increased its workforce by 400 last year. The Air Serbia Group, which includes catering and ground service subsidiaries, now has a workforce of 2,450.
Its image makeover has also seen it attract new attention as an employer. Last year, a recruitment drive for cabin crew attracted 6,400 candidates, the biggest response in company history, Mali said.
Air Serbia’s success “is evidence of the equity partnership strategy in action,” said president and CEO of Etihad James Hogan, who is also vice-chairman of Air Serbia’s supervisory board. “Air Serbia has made tremendous strides on its journey to sustainable profitability.”