Hah: Albawings Flies Staff To Serbia To Get Vaccinated

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Earlier I wrote about how Serbia is vaccinating foreigners for free, which has caused a huge influx of people from neighboring countries. Well here’s an interesting airline angle to that…

Albawings’ charter flights to Belgrade

Albawings is an Albanian low cost carrier that operates a fleet of three Boeing 737-400s, which are an average of 30 years old. The airline ordinarily operates flights from its hub in Tirana to destinations in Italy, but yesterday the airline flew to a different destination — Serbia.

Albawings Boeing 737-400

On Saturday, March 27, 2021, Albawings operated two flights from Tirana, Albania, to Belgrade, Serbia, covering a distance of 237 miles in each direction. Both flights operated from Tirana to Belgrade in the morning, and from Belgrade to Tirana in the evening:

  • The plane with the registration code ZA-ALB operated in 45 minutes on the outbound and 37 minutes on the return
  • The plane with the registration code ZA-ALC operated in 39 minutes on the outbound and 36 minutes on the return

Albawings’ route from Tirana to Belgrade

Albawings’ third plane, with the registration code ZA-AWB, hasn’t flown since March 16.

The motive for these flights seems pretty clear — this was obviously intended to get people vaccinated. That’s apparent based on the flight timings, and two flights being sent to Belgrade in one day, which is a destination the airline doesn’t usually fly to.

What I’m not sure of is how far in advance these flights were planned, and how exactly they were marketed. Did tickets go on sale hours in advance, was this planned further in advance, or what?

All of Albawings’ staff are now vaccinated

Here’s the most interesting angle to this story — not only did this flight carry some passengers who got vaccinated, but Albawings also sent all of its staff on these flights. Yesterday evening the airline took to Facebook to state that 100% of Albawings staff are now vaccinated.

Albawings has vaccinated 100% of staff

While we’ve seen some other airlines — like EL AL and Etihad — achieve impressive vaccination milestones, I think Albawings deserves credit for the most creative way to have achieved full vaccination of employees.

One other interesting twist here is that in the US pilots can’t operate flights for 48 hours after receiving their vaccine. In this case it seems to me like pilots operated flights shortly after getting vaccinated, given that all Albawings staff received the vaccine. I suppose it’s possible that some pilots may have been vaccinated before, but I also wouldn’t assume that.

Bottom line

Yesterday Albawings operated two flights from Albania to Serbia, which came as Serbia offered to vaccinate foreigners for free. Not only was the airline carrying passengers, but 100% of Albawings’ staff were vaccinated as well.

Well played, Albawings…

(Tip of the hat to Nikola)

  1. They’ve got some real talent in their crew. Airlines in the U.S. should take notice.

    ~ The Honorable Reginald

  2. I’m currently a flight instructor that got vaccinated recently. Most side effects for me came in a day later (and were mild), and so while we have the mandatory 48 hour waiting period here in the US following the shot, it wouldn’t really be a safety of flight issue in the first 6-8 hours following the shot. Personally I just had a sore arm following the first shot and some mild flu like symptoms after the second one, and they went away after a few hours. I was good to fly after the waiting period.

    This being said everyone reacts differently, and I imagine the pilots here either had the vaccine previously, but if not, they were still safe to fly.

  3. Don’t you need two doses of the vaccine – each a few weeks apart – to be considered fully vaccinated?

  4. Although we didn’t fly on Albawings, yesterday (Saturday) we drove from Skopje to Belgrade (5 hrs) to be vaccinated. Kudos to the Serbians for giving their neighbors free vaccinations!

    Saturday was very crowded because those who had appointments in the morning were not able to get to Belgrade on time because Macedonia refused to relax the curfew (10PM – 5 AM) for the purpose of traveling to Serbia to get vaccinated, so given the 5 hour drive from Skopje, and longer from farther away, those people just got there when they got there.  Let me say that again: Macedonia refused to relax the curfew for those traveling to Serbia to get vaccinated, thereby keeping Macedonia safe from the coronavirus?  I can’t even begin… 

    I understand today (Sunday) was much better, and that there were no lines at all. Again, thanks to the team at the Belgrade Fair and to the Serbian government for potentially saving our lives.

  5. Depends on which vaccine. J&J is one-and-done, but I doubt that’s what Serbia has extras of.

    More likely the Russian or Chinese. I think the Russian vaccine is two shots, and I believe there are multiple Chinese vaccines, some one-shot, some two….don’t know for sure (but I do know I sure as hell wouldn’t fly to Serbia to get stuck with any of those…).

  6. Not that I would use Albawings to get there, but I highly recommend Albania for a vacation. Not much to Tirana, but if you’re looking for a Mediterranean getaway, Sarande in the south is absolutely gorgeous. Imagine Greece with no tourists (although on my last trip there were certainly an increased amount of Scandinavian and British tourists who are catching on to the hidden gem). Extremely cheap too, so no need to worry about using your hard earned points!

  7. Talent indeed! Airlines all over the world–not just the US–should take notice of this particular airline. In fact, their talent is so incredible, it can’t even be measured!

    — The Even More Honourable Alfred

  8. Surely one of the biggest Easter eggs here – tip the head to Nikola
    BEG full name Nikola Tesla Airport Belgrade

  9. @Uros – Based on the albanian premier, people from Kosova are coming to get vaccinated for free in Norther Albania towns. It started a few weeks back first with doctors going to the the town of Kukes. Albania is an amazing place to visit with wonderful beaches in the South and breathtaking scenaries in the mountains up North…two different worlds a couple of hundred miles apart.

  10. I think I’ve seen a Reddit post where US citizens are trying to organize a trip to Serbia to get vaccinated.

    Go figure, there’s vaccine turist and that Serbia is the place to go.

  11. If anybody remembers the history of the region (even just from the 1990s), the irony of this runs deep…

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