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Aeroput (Serbian Cyrillic: Аеропут, English: Airway) was an airline and flag carrier of Yugoslavia from 1927 until 1948.

Aeroput
Aeroput plne.jpg
Six Aeroput Potez 29/2 biplanes at the old Belgrade-Dojno Polje Airport with the Milanković's hangar[1] on the left side, 1929.
FoundedJune 17, 1927 (1927-06-17)
Commenced operationsFebruary 15, 1928 (1928-02-15)
Ceased operationsDecember 24, 1948 (1948-12-24) (as Aeroput)

Society for Air traffic AD Aeroput was the first Serbian company for civil air traffic, which was founded on 17 June 1927 as Društvo za Vazdušni Saobraćaj "Aeroput" (English: Society for Air Traffic "Aeroput"),[2] in the palace of the Adriatic-Danube Bank in Belgrade. Aeroput was the national carrier of the Kingdom of SHS, and then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Aeroput was among the first civilian aircraft carriers, being the 10th airline company founded in Europe and the 21st in the world. The airline ceased to exist during World War II in Yugoslavia, but was renewed after the war under the new name Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (abbreviated JAT; English: Yugoslav Air Transport) and still flies today as the Serbian national air carrier under the name Air Serbia.

The beginning and development of the Serbian civil aviationEdit

On 13 February 1913, king Peter I of Serbia adopted the Regulation of the transportation system of devices which run in the air, which made Kingdom of Serbia joining the modern air traffic. It was the fifth country in the world (after Germany, England, France and Austria-Hungary), which regulated legal norms of the air operations. For the Kingdom of Serbia, it was a defense mechanism from Austro-Hungarian planes, which had been flying over Serbian territory, without any permission, since November 1912, as Austro-Hungarian Empire was putting pressure on Serbia to withdraw from the coast of the Adriatic Sea, where Serb units were stationed after the victory over the Turks in the First Balkan War.

The first civilian aircraft to fly over Serbia before the end of World War I postal service flights carrying mail. In cooperation with the Postal and Telegraphic Department several flights were organized in Thessaloniki, where pilots of the First Serbian Squadron, AP 521, carried mail between Skopje and Thessaloniki. When the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was established in December 1918, two-seaters Breguet 14 flew a regular route from Novi Sad through Belgrade and Niš to Skopje almost daily. After that, a postal air service from Novi Sad and Belgrade to Sarajevo, Mostar and Zagreb was established. Passenger transport began in 1919.

Before an airport in Bežanija suburb of Belgrade was built, a temporary solution was found in an airfield in the village of Jabuka near Pančevo. The airfield included a 500 by 500 meters grass field by the side of the road, that was used for grazing livestock, except for the brief periods when the airplanes were landing or taking off, as was the case in Prague and other cities. First flight landed at this impromptu airport on 25 March 1919, operating a Blériot-SPAD S.46 Berline biplane. The location of this airfield was not convenient for passengers, since, in absence of a bridge over the Danube, the travel by ship to Belgrade often lasted longer than the air travel from Budapest or Bucharest.

The first international route that passed through the territory of the Kingdom of SHS was opened by Compagnie Franco-Roumaine. In order to compete with the Orient Express train line, which was for a long time the fastest link between Western Europe and the Middle East, this company introduced world's first regular night flights on the Belgrade-Bucharest route. A three-engine Caudron C.61 took off from Bucharest at 4.00 am and landed in Pančevo at 9.00 am, on 9 September 1923. That same year, the construction of the airport along the road to Bežanija began.

Establishment of AeroputEdit

In a conference held on 6 February 1926 by the initiative of Serbian Aero-Club the rules of air traffic were created, and all participants become the founders of the new airline company, Aeroput. The rules were approved on 13 March by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The company was registered on the Belgrade stock market. However, the registration of shares went below expectations and it became clear that the company needed assistance in cash and goods from the state. This agreement was signed on 25 January 1927, but subscription of shares was still low. The planned and required 24,000 shares (i.e. the then six million dinars required to purchase aircraft) by the end of March 1927, there were subscribed and paid only about 10% of the shares, which, in accordance with the law of joint stock companies, threatened Aeroput to be abolished.

Adventurous flightEdit

 
Transcontinental flight with Potez 25, in 1927: Paris - Belgrade - Aleppo - Basra - Jask - Karachi - Bombay.

Aeroput director and co-founder, aeronautical engineer Tadija Sondermajer, a reserve colonel in the Royal Yugoslav Army Air Force and the most prominent figure in the civil aviation of Serbia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at the time, suggested that along with Russian pilot Leonid Bajdak, they flew an intercontinental flight from Paris to Bombay[3]. This was put forward in order to both prove the value and ability of Serbian pilots and generate publicity in order to promote the uptake of Aeroput shares.[4] After a short preparation, Sondermajer and Bajdak commenced their transcontinental from Paris on 20 April 1927. After covering 14,800 kilometers with 14 stages and 11 days of travel, on 2 May 1927 they landed in Belgrade. The welcome was magnificent and more than 30,000 Belgrade citizens gave the two a heroes welcome at the Bežanijska Kosa airport. The journey achieved its goal and subscriptions of Aeroput shares grew exponentially.[5] From that point onwards, Aeroput was established with a capital of six million dinars, collected by 412 shareholders. The holders of the shares were: Vračarska Zadruga (Vračar Cooperative), Economic Bank, Postal Savings Bank, Gateret, Serbian bank of Zagreb, American-Serbian bank in Sarajevo, Teleoptik, Velauto, Ikarus, Technical Society Voks and others. A total of 412 shareholders paid the 14,000 shares at a price of 250 dinars, totalling 3.5 million dinars. Aeroput began its service by purchasing four planes. For the next three months 30,000 shares were sold and this capital enabled the new company to overcome initial financial hurdles. On 17 June 1927, Aeroput presented themselves to Belgrade Commercial Court and from that day onwards, the Company for became a legal entity.[6]

Construction of the airportEdit

The new Belgrade international airport was officially opened on 25 March 1927, with flights of a total of 25 fighter aircraft of type Dewoitine, and became the first civilian airport in the country. It included a large hangar which was designed by Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković, who until then has been abroad engaged in the development of similar projects, and developed the world's first formula for determining the reinforcement of concrete beams. The airport was built on a meadow called Dojno Polje between Bežanijska Kosa and left bank of the Sava River, about two kilometers from Zemun. Airport had four grass runways. In 1931, a modern terminal building was built, and in 1936, the airport installed equipment for landing in poor visibility conditions.

The first promotional flightEdit

The first Aeroput aircraft arrived at Belgrade airport by early February 1928. Aeroput management bought four Potez 29/2 biplanes from the French company Potez. The choice of this type of aircraft on behalf of the management of Aeroput was decided because the domestic factory Ikarus in Zemun already produced planes under license from the same French company, the aircraft of type Potez 25, for the Air Force Command and its air force units. For Aeroput it was important that the factory was in the immediate vicinity of the airport and was capable of servicing their new aircraft. Biplane Potez 29/2 in that time had good characteristics for a passenger plane, the crew made up of two members, had five passenger seats, a range up to 500 kilometers, with a 450 hp engine, flying at a speed of 210 kilometers per hour, and the trunk capable of receiving load of 250 kilograms.

Aeroput's first flight was a promotional flight that took off from Belgrade to Zagreb at 9 o'clock in the morning on 15 February 1928 with an aircraft Potez 29/2, with license plate X-SECD, called "Belgrade". The pilots were Aeroput's chairman Tadija Sondermajer and pilot Vladimir Striževski Striž, while the first passengers were five journalists and photo reporters from Belgrade media. After a two-hour flight by overcast sky and low clouds over the Sava River, which is a major landmark for pilots, they noticed the towers the Zagreb cathedral. The plane landed at the airport Borongaj at 11 o'clock, which was 25 minutes earlier than schedule, thus making a couple of exhibition passes over Zagreb. The plane was greeted by a large number of citizens and representatives of the civil and military authorities. On the same day in the afternoon a group of journalists flew from Zagreb to Belgrade. This marked the promotion of Aeroput's first regular line of domestic air traffic. Belgrade - Zagreb line was flown daily, except Sundays, until November, when due to the winter conditions, air traffic was disrupted. Despite the high ticket prices and passenger fear of flying, the number of passengers has been higher than expected, with more than 80 percent of the seats filled.

HistoryEdit

The first route, Belgrade - Zagreb, became operational on 15 February 1928. The following year, 1929, Aeroput joined the International Air Traffic Association (IATA). The first international flight was on the 7 October 1929, when Aeroput flew from Belgrade via Zagreb to Vienna with a Potez 29/2 with five-passengers. By 1930, Aeroput had regular flights from Belgrade to Graz and Vienna (via Zagreb), and to Thessaloniki (via Skoplje). Thus the shortest air link between Central Europe and the Aegean Sea was formed across the Yugoslav territory. By then, Aeroput connected Belgrade and Zagreb with routed to all other major domestic centers in the interior and the coast of the Adriatic. Initially, the fleet consisted of three Potez 29/2 biplanes with five passenger seats. In 1932 Aeroput expanded its fleet with Farman F.306 aircraft, and in 1934 the company purchased three Spartan Cruiser II planes. Aeroput also bought two Caudron C.449 Goéland monoplanes, one de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide and six mid-range Lockheed Model 10A Electra aircraft. Relying on its renewed fleet, the company greatly expanded its list of destinations in 1937 and 1938. Regular flights to Sofia, Tirana, and Budapest were introduced, as well as a seasonal-tourist flight Dubrovnik - Zagreb - Vienna - Brno - Prague. In cooperation with Italian and Romanian companies, the Bucharest - Belgrade - Zagreb - Venice - Milan - Turin route was introduced.

In 1940, Aeroput broke all records by carrying over 16,000 passengers and 232 tons of freight by flying 726,000 aircraft-kilometers.[7]

The impressive development of the company was interrupted by the start of the Second World War. Aeroput suspended all services after the April War at beginning of the World War II in Yugoslavia in April 1941. After occupation of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the airline effectively ceased to exist, and its aircraft were seized by the Axis powers.[2] After the war, the airline was rebranded and reestablished in 1947 as JAT Yugoslav Airlines.[8] JAT was established with the assistant of the Yugoslav transport regiment and former Aeroput pilots and aircraft mechanics.[9]

Establishment of Aeroput Technical serviceEdit

 
Aeroput MMS-3
 
Milenko Mitrović Spirta with MMS-3, before he set it on fire, to prevent Germans to take it (April 1941).

In the first three years, while the fleet consisted only of Potez 29/2 biplanes, major aircraft maintenance for Aeroput was performed by aircraft factory Ikarus in Zemun, which had licence for producing a similar plane Potez 25 for the Royal Yugoslav Air Force (JKRV). Engine maintenance was performed at the factory Jasenica AD from Smederevska Palanka, which also produced under licence aircraft engines of the Lorraine brand. Early in 1931, Aeroput acquired a workshop for the repair of the aircraft from the French - Romanian company CIDNA, which was located at Zemun airport and assembly organized with the mechanics of Ikarus and the Air Force, and on that way organized its own technical aircraft maintenance service. Maintenance department was located in one of the large hangar at the civilian part of the airport, it was a modern and possessed a test stand for aero-engines. Since then, all the revisions, and airplane engines overhauling that had Aeroput were performed in they own technical service. How it was the good service, show fact that they are made in the service aircraft of domestic design, the Aeroput MMS-3.

World War II and postwar prohibitionEdit

Bombing in 1941 destroyed almost the entire property of the company. Due to the outbreak of war, 500 tons of fuel which were ordered and paid, never arrived. Aeroput sued for punitive damages on 31 October 1941. In 1942 the commissar administration banned Aeroput operations. German occupation authorities nationalized the property of Aeroput in Knez Mihailova Street 32, where they moved their national airlineDeutsche Luft Hansa (DHN).

After the war Aeroput renewed work on 2 July 1945, and a general meeting of shareholders elected the first post-war management of the company. The meeting was attended by delegates of the new government of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia (DFY), and with the participation of then the Head of State Ivan Ribar, who was a pre-war shareholder and board member. However, the later communist government of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia adopted a decree prohibiting private joint-stock companies, and on 24 December 1948 Aeroput was liquidated. Its assets were nationalized and the airline continued as Jat Airways.

FleetEdit

registration type of plane introduced in the fleet re-registration name excluded note/coment
YU-SAB Potez 29/2 10 February 1928 X-SEBC UN-EBC UN-SAB YU-SAB Aeroput „Beograd“ 1937
YU-SAC Potez 29/2 10 February 1928 X-SECD UN-ECD UN-SAC YU-SAC Aeroput „Zagreb“ 1937
YU-SAD Potez 29/2 23 March 1928 X-SEDF UN-EDF UN-SAD YU-SAD Aeroput 1937
YU-SAE Potez 29/2 23 March 1928 X-SEFG UN-EFG UN-SAE YU-SAE Aeroput „Skoplje“ 1937
YU-SAF Potez 29/2 7 May 1929 UN-EGH UN-SAF YU-SAF Aeroput 1937
YU-SAG Potez 29/2 7 May 1929 UN-EHI UN-SAG YU-SAG Aeroput 1937
YU-SAH Farman F.306 31 December 1930 UN-SAH YU-SAH Aeroput „Podgorica“ 1933 Crashed near Ljubljana on 12 September 1933
YU-SAA de Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth 1 June 1931 UN-SAA YU-SAA G-ACDU Aeroput 1933
YU-SAI de Havilland DH.60M Moth 29 July 1931 G-ABXM UN-SAI YU-SAI Aeroput 1941 Destroyed in April War on 6 April 1941
YU-SAK de Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth 5 October 1932 ZS-ADE G-ABZA UN-SAK YU-SAK Aeroput 1941 Destroyed in April War on 6 April 1941
YU-SAN Spartan Cruiser II 2 October 1933 G-ACJO YU-SAN Aeroput „Ljubljana“ 1941
YU-SAO Spartan Cruiser II 9 May 1934 G-ACMW YU-SAO Aeroput „Sušak“ 1941
YU-PCJ Breguet 19/10 10 May 1934 YU-PCJ Aeroput 1937
YU-SAP Spartan Cruiser II 24 May 1935 YU-SAP Aeroput „Niš“ 1936 Built under Spartan's licence for Aeroput by Zmaj aircraft company in Zemun. During the flight on line BelgradePodujevoSkoplje on 15 September 1936 it made a forced landing due to an engine failure and was damaged slightly. The damage was quickly repaired.
YU-SAS de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide 28 July 1936 G-AEKF YU-SAS Aeroput 1941 Captured in April War in 1941
YU-SAR Aeroput MMS-3 1936 YU-SAR Aeroput 1941 Prototype. Destroyed in April War in 1941
YU-PEB Farman F.190 1937 F-AJIA YU-PEB Aeroput 1941
YU-SAT Caudron C.449 Goéland 29 April 1937 F-APKT YU-SAT CJ+XM? Aeroput 1941 Captured in April War in 1941
YU-SAU Caudron C.449 Goéland 22 July 1937 F-APKU YU-SAU Aeroput 1939 Damaged in 1939
YU-SAV Lockheed Model 10 Electra 26 July 1937 YU-SAV AX699 Aeroput 1941 Joined the RAF on 5 May 1941. Written off (damaged beyond repair) in Ismailia, Egypt on 23 December 1941.
YU-SBA Lockheed Model 10 Electra 26 July 1937 YU-SBA Aeroput 1941 Joined to the RAF on 5 May 1941. Written off (damaged beyond repair) in Kinci, Nigeria on 15 April 1941.
YU-SAZ Lockheed Model 10 Electra 1 June 1938 YU-SAZ Aeroput 1941 Destroyed in April War on 15 April 1941
YU-SBB Lockheed Model 10 Electra 1 June 1938 YU-SBB AX701 Aeroput 1941 Joined the RAF on 2 May 1941. Damaged during landing on 25 August 1944 in Matariya, Egypt.
YU-SBC Lockheed Model 10 Electra 20 March 1939 YU-SBC Aeroput 1940
YU-SBD Lockheed Model 10 Electra 4 April 1939 YU-SBD Aeroput 1941 Destroyed in April War in 1941
YU-SBE Lockheed Model 10 Electra 29 April 1939 YU-SBE Aeroput 1940
YU-SDA Lockheed Model 10 Electra 1 July 1939 YU-SDA AX700 Aeroput 1941 Joined the RAF on 5 May 1941. Crashed during forced landing on 14 June 1946 in Barrackpore near Calcutta, West Bengal, India.

Exhibits from this period can be found in the Aeronautical Museum-Belgrade (with a collection of over 200 planes, gliders and helicopters).

DestinationsEdit

Aeroput aperated in the domestic airports and airfields of Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Skopje, Borovo, Sušak, Dubrovnik (Gruda), Podgorica, Niš and Split; along with domestic seaplane stations at Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Split, Divulje, Sušak, Kumbor (Kotor) and Vodice (Šibenik).[10]

Regular flights were made from Belgrade and Zagreb to domestic destinations but also to international ones, to Thessaloniki, Graz, Vienna, Athens, Sofia, Trieste, Venice, Rome, Prague, Brno, Budapest, Klagenfurt and Tirana.[11]

In 1938, Aeroput was a partner along Italian company Ala Littoria and Romanian CIDNA in the Milan-Venice-Zagreb-Belgrade-Bucharest route.[12]

Destinations by the year they were introduced:

1928:

  • Belgrade – Zagreb

1929:

  • Zagreb – Belgrade – Skoplje

1930:

  • Belgrade – Zagreb – Graz – Vienna
  • Zagreb – Sušak
  • Belgrade – Sarajevo – Podgorica
  • Belgrade – Skoplje – Thessaloniki

1931:

  • Belgrade – Sarajevo – Split – Sušak – Zagreb
  • Vienna – Belgrade – Thessaloniki

1933:

  • Belgrade – Skoplje – Thessaloniki – Athens
  • Zagreb – Ljubljana
  • Ljubljana – Sušak

1934:

  • Ljubljana – Zagreb – Sušak
  • Ljubljana – Klagenfurt

1935:

  • Belgrade – Borovo – Zagreb – Graz – Vienna (Borovo was added to the Belgrade – Vienna route)
  • Belgrade – Niš – Skoplje (Niš was added to the Belgrade – Skoplje route)
  • Belgrade – Skoplje – Bitola – Thessaloniki (Bitola was added once a week, on Sundays)
  • Belgrade – Sarajevo

1936:

  • Belgrade – Podujevo – Skoplje
  • Belgrade – Sarajevo – Dubrovnik
  • Belgrade – Borovo – Zagreb – Sušak – Ljubljana

1937:

  • Zagreb – Sarajevo – Dubrovnik

1938:

  • Belgrade – Sofia
  • Dubrovnik – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Vienna – Brno – Prague
  • Belgrade – Dubrovnik – Tirana

1939:

  • Budapest – Zagreb – Venice – Rome
  • Belgrade – Budapest

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Milanković's hangar today". Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Drustvo za Vazdusni Saobracaj A D – Aeroput (1927-1948)". EuropeanAirlines. 17 June 2010.
  3. ^ Simišić, Jovo (1 May 2018). "Sondermajers, patriots and heroes". Politika.
  4. ^ The Forgotten Ace jat.com
  5. ^ revija, Nacionalna (September 29, 2014). "Fear of not flying". gb times.
  6. ^ PIVLJANIN, RANKO (May 16, 2011). "A pioneer of aviation in Serbia". B92.
  7. ^ Fortieth Anniversary of Yugoslav Civil Aviation: Twentieth Anniversary of JAT. at page 21
  8. ^ "The History of JAT: From Aeroput to JAT Airways". Archived from the original on 2012-02-06.
  9. ^ "Jat Airways - History". www.jat.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  10. ^ "World Airlines Directory". Flight International. 10 August 1944. p. 150.
  11. ^ Drustvo za Vazdusni Saobracaj A D – Aeroput at europeanairlines.no
  12. ^ Aeroput timetable 1938 at timetableimages.com, retrieved 24 October 2014

External linksEdit