How Air Serbia’s CEO aims to position the carrier as a leader in its region

On October 26, 2023, Air Serbia celebrated its 10th anniversary, marking a decade of the airline in its current incarnation.  But the Serbian flag carrier has a much longer history, dating back to its start in 1927. 

Although the airline has operated for decades under different names, such as Aeroput and later JAT Airways, Air Serbia has a strong claim to being one of the world’s oldest airlines and, judging by the hardships experienced by its home country during the 20th century, possibly also one of the most resilient.  

If its 2013 rebranding represented a break with that difficult past in some way and the entry of Air Serbia into the Etihad Airways orbit, then 2023 has seen Air Serbia emerging as one of the few growing independent and profitable carriers in Europe.  

At the helm of Air Serbia throughout this period of transformation is Jiří Marek.  

A seasoned airline executive, who has held senior managerial roles at airlines such as CSA, LOT and Alitalia, Czech-born Marek joined Air Serbia in July 2019 as General Manager Commercial and Strategy before becoming the airline’s CEO in January 2022.  

During Marek’s tenure, Air Serbia has survived a pandemic, recovered its profitability and witnessed a major shareholding restructure. The latter has seen Etihad progressively exiting the company and the Serbian state recovering its full ownership of the airline.  

Meanwhile, Air Serbia has managed to bring passenger numbers back up, expand its fleet and network, including to new long-haul destinations in the United States and Asia, and develop its Belgrade base as a hub for the whole Balkan region. 

In an exclusive in-depth interview with AeroTime, Marek shared details about Air Serbia’s fleet strategy, its network development, and its alliance and partnerships policy.  

Marek also shared his plans to accelerate Air Serbia’s growth momentum and position the historical airline as a leader in its region. 

Following the interview, on November 13, 2023, it was announced that the Serbian state would once again control 100% of Air Serbia after Etihad sold its remaining 16.4% stake in the airline. 


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