Air Serbia Temporarily Leasing An Etihad A330

Filed Under: Air Serbia, Etihad

The disastrous ‘Etihad Airways Partners’ experiment is largely over, though Etihad does still have an equity stake in European airline Air Serbia.

While this is not an airline you might immediately think to fly across the Atlantic, the benefit of the Etihad investment was that it allowed them to launch their first long haul route. Furthermore, the benefit of the Etihad investment was that, in a similar fashion to Alitalia, Air Serbia’s product improved dramatically.

They only operate one long haul route, from their hub in Belgrade to New York JFK. Ben flew the route in business class in both 2016 and 2017 and was impressed with the experience, saying:

Air Serbia continues to be a fantastic way to fly across the Atlantic, given their excellent award availability through Etihad Guest, and solid onboard product.

Air Serbia has a single long haul aircraft to operate this route, which is an Airbus A330-200.

It has 18 business class seats in a 1-1-1 herringbone configuration. This is a very similar seat to Virgin Atlantic, and while all passengers have direct aisle access, they all face away from the window and have almost no storage, so the seats are not ideal.

This aircraft is an ex-Jet Airways plane, as Jet Airways is another Etihad partner.

This single A330 in the Air Serbia fleet is due for routine maintenance, so Air Serbia is leasing an A330-200 from their equity partner Etihad between January 12 and February 14, 2019, to operate their Belgrade to New York JFK flights, three times weekly during this period.

Air Serbia is doing this on a wet lease basis so the flights should be crewed with Etihad staff, rather than Air Serbia staff, noting that Air Serbia crew are (or at least were, back in Etihad’s glory days) trained by Etihad, so I would expect the levels of service to be similar anyway.

The big difference with the leased aircraft is the business class seats.

The Air Serbia/Jet Airways A330 had 1-1-1 seating…

While the Etihad A330 has staggered 1-2-1 seating.

Etihad Business Class A330

I would consider these seats to be an upgrade, as they are more private and have more storage, while still maintaining direct aisle access for all passengers.

The number of seats also increases from 18 to 22, meaning there may be even better award availability during this period.

As you might expect, award seats on these flights can be booked with Etihad miles.

Air Serbia does not have first class, nor do the Etihad A330-200s (some of their A330-300s do).

Bottom line

While you might not be planning to visit Serbia over the next few months, remember that Air Serbia does also fly short haul to various European cities such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Milan, Rome, Vienna and Zurich and others.

So if you are looking for a great way to cross the Atlantic, remember the Air Serbia experience will be even better during this period with the Etihad seats.

The Etihad Guest award chart shows 64,082 miles needed each way from New York to Belgrade, plus as low as 7,125 miles each way to continue on to some European destinations, though they no longer have proper business class seats on short haul aircraft (they were one of the few airlines to have a proper business class on short haul flights).

Have you flown Air Serbia?

(Tip of the hat to CH Aviation)

  1. I have flown Air Serbia from BEG to CPH in business and I was not impressed. The service was meh and the food was horrible.

  2. lol funny you speak about eu destinations from BEG and forgot to mention one of the best cities for tourists in Europe – Prague. James pls do more search before writing. You were shining star at the beginning.

  3. @ Nico — He was just giving a few examples of cities Air Serbia flies to. The list wasn’t intended to be comprehensive. It’s not like he was about to list the 40(ish) destinations Air Serbia flies to.

  4. @ Nico – I mentioned ‘some’ of the most popular Air Serbia EU destinations as there were too many to neatly list all of them.

    I’ve been to Prague before and agree its a great city ; )

  5. lucky – I understood about a few examples but couldn’t understand why he didn’t say a word about one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

  6. > I would consider these seats to be an upgrade, as they are more private and have more storage

    Really? I’ve flown those Etihad seats and found them to be feel rather exposed. Certainly compared to a regular reverse herringbone layout.

    I’ve not flown the Jet Airways seats, but looking at the pics, if you can snag a seat on the right hand side it’s a ‘quiet’ aisle with seats only facing into the aisle from one side, a bit like first on the Qantas A380.

  7. @ GMan – I’ve flown Etihad A330 J seats and Virgin Atlantic J seats (which are almost identical to the Air Serbia/Jet seats and would choose the Etihad seats every single time.

    They are far less exposed that the 1-1-1 herringbone seats.

  8. @James Interesting thanks! Had been wondering about the Virgin Atlantic J seats, I’ve not had a chance to try them, doesn’t sound like I’m missing much!

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