Air Serbia, the national airline of the Republic of Serbia, yesterday evening launched its maiden flight from Belgrade to Saint Petersburg, the airline’s second destination in Russia.

The historic flight, JU674, took off on schedule at 5.00 pm and landed at Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport the same evening at 8.40 pm, where it was welcomed by a traditional water cannon salute.

The new non-stop service will be operated three times a week on a two-cabin Airbus A319. Saint Petersburg is the second-biggest city in Russia and considered by many to be its cultural heart, with a rich heritage of ballet and art, including more than 200 museums, the most famous of which is the State Hermitage Museum.

Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, said:

“Air Serbia is delighted to commence passenger flights to Saint Petersburg, a well-positioned gateway to North Europe and the vast country of Russia.

“With multiple weekly flight options, convenient arrival and departure times and easy connections over Belgrade to the Balkans and South Europe, we expect the Saint Petersburg flight to be a hit with business and leisure travelers who have expressed strong travel demand to the city.

“By improving air access and our travel offering to the Russian market in this way, we will also stimulate commercial and tourism activity on both ends, driving economic growth in Serbia and fulfilling one of our core objectives as the national airline.

“We’re happy to launch this flight just in time for the famous White Nights Festival, during which Saint Petersburg comes alive with ballet, opera and classical music performances, and look forward to welcoming business and leisure travelers on board our A319 in the months to come.”

On top of its non-stop services to Russia, Air Serbia has an agreement to codeshare on flights operated by Aeroflot between Moscow and Kazan, Krasnodar, Samara, Sochi and Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg is the fourth new addition to the Air Serbia flight network this week and comes in the wake of route launches to Hamburg and Ohrid on 15 June, and Kiev a day later on 16 June.

It will be followed by the much-awaited introduction of a five-per-week service between Belgrade and New York-JFK on 23 June, heralding the return of a non-stop air link between Serbia and the United States after it was stopped in 1992.