Etihad Airways partner Air Serbia has begun retrofitting 10 of its Airbus A319s and A320s with slimmer and lighter-weight Recaro BL3520 seats, adding 12% capacity to the airline’s narrowbody fleet.

Air Serbia is changing its seats as part of a five-year strategy to maximize returns and utilization from its short-haul European network.

Under the plan, the airline will install 1,500 Recaro seats over the coming weeks, increasing the capacity of its A319s from 128 to 144 seats and A320s from 155 to 174 seats. The first A319 aircraft, registered YU-APJ, is already being retrofitted.

“The increase in seat capacity is equivalent to Air Serbia adding an extra Airbus jet to its fleet and will at the same time improve the inflight product and comfort levels. This will make Air Serbia more competitive, substantially reduce unit costs, drive revenue growth and bring our seat density up, meaning we can better-meet travel demand during the summer,” Air Serbia CEO Dane Kondić said.

The new seats are roughly 2.6 kg (5.7 lbs.) lighter than Air Serbia’s existing seats, cutting the airline’s A319 and A320 empty weight by more than 3,500 kg. This weight saving will cut fuel consumption and emissions.

Air Serbia added the thinner backrest and the higher positioning of the literature pocket, above the tray table, will give passengers more space.

“Along with the new seats, the A319 and A320 cabin change includes new carpets, curtains and floor path markings to match the onboard décor on the airline’s Airbus A330, which currently serves New York,” Air Serbia said.

Air Serbia is equipping its business and economy cabins with the new seats. Up to 12 business class seats will be marked off with a mobile divider and the middle seat will be kept free. Both classes will have internet access.

Belgrade-based Air Serbia operates one widebody, 14 narrowbody and six turboprop aircraft to 44 passenger and cargo destinations in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North America.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com