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Vladan Sekulić, General Manager, SP Lasta Belgrade

Lasta Drives to the Top Again

Thanks to tradition, experience, tens of millions of miles travelled to the satisfaction of more than 100 million passengers, new standards, procedures and leadership, Lasta Transport is well on its way to re-occupying the leading position where it belongs

By the end of October, a state-of-the-art information booking system will be installed, so that Lasta passengers will be able to receive information on departures and changes to the timetable, and also buy a ticket with one click via their phone or computer. The coordinated cooperation between the Managing Director and the Supervisory Board of SP Lasta is carrying out the company’s business strategy and achieving its business goals.

Lasta has long been a leader in road passenger transport in Serbia and south-eastern Europe, but then experienced a difficult period that you have been able to overcome. Where is Lasta today?

– I can proudly say that Lasta is slowly rising from the ashes and that it is well on the way to regaining the leading position where it belongs. We have been in the process of privatisation since 2003, behind us is a failed sale and an extremely difficult year in 2014, but the results from the first half of this year are encouraging. In the first six months, we were able to reclaim some of the lines we lost and buy 50 new buses.

I have told our staff that behind us is a strong brand and 70 years of tradition that gives us a responsibility. The competition is enormous, and the demands and expectations of passengers are increasing, so there is no sleeping or relaxing if we want to be the best again. Although we have the support of the City and the Republic, the staff need to understand that we are our own best friends and that our commitment will determine where Lasta will be and how our families and we will live.

Compared to the same period last year, our revenues are up by 220 million and our net profit by 110 million

Even more than safety, reliability, comfort, and a good price are in demand today. How difficult is it to keep up with the times?

– While we were struggling with our problems, the competition was growing stronger, but now we are ready to return to the market because a company of the rank and reputation of Lasta can’t allow anyone else to be better.

All our vehicles operating on local and international lines have Wi-Fi, and we have renovated all 17- 18 branches throughout Serbia. In addition to excellent working conditions, the staff have been given new uniforms, and all drivers will receive them too.

Carriers across Europe complain about a lack of drivers. How does Lasta deal with this problem?

– At one point when it was most difficult for us, we were faced with the departure of drivers, but this trend has stopped. I believe this was also due to a pay increase of almost 10 per cent, the first for 10 years for all staff, but also the fact that the company has a future again. Drivers are no longer leaving us, quite the opposite.

We even have drivers coming from some private companies because the name Lasta means something again, the fleet is being restored, investment coming… Drivers and technical services are working well, there are no redundancies in the administration, so I can proudly say that almost 2,000 employees believe that better days are coming and that it is up to us.

What are your plans for the coming period? Expanding capacity, increasing comfort and quality, applying innovative technologies …?

– Our finances are stable, and that is the most important. Loans are regularly serviced, and some will be refinanced. For the coming period, we are planning to purchase 10 state-of-the-art double-decker buses for international routes, and gradually, based on an agreement with the City of Belgrade, we will buy new low-floor vehicles for regular traffic. Our plans are ambitious, but they are justified by our work to date and the results we have achieved since the beginning of the year. 

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