Monday, July 6, 2009

Air wars

Dubrovnik Airport
Loudly billed as the big "return after 18 years", Jat Airways’ tourist charters from Belgrade to the Croatian resort of Dubrovnik have been scrapped after only two flights, authorities in Zagreb confirmed last Friday. Only two "promotional" flights have been agreed, one completed on Thursday and the other planned for later today, Croatian transport ministry spokeswoman Marinka Haluzan said. The other 664 passengers which have purchased their tickets on the Belgrade to Dubrovnik service will now be refunded. While Serbian authorities blame their Croatian counterparts for a lack of cooperation, the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency has blamed their Serbian colleagues for the same reson. The Croatian stance is that flights between Belgrade and Dubrovnik cannot be allowed because there is no bilateral air agreement between the two countries. This is despite the fact that flights from Belgrade to Pula have not and will not be affected. Serbian officials said talks would continue next week. In Zagreb, Haluzan said Croatia "in the past insisted on the air traffic agreement ... it is unclear why the other side did not want it”.

On the other hand a Jat spokesperson said that the airline has held talks with the Croatian authorities and that it had been given a license to operate flights to Dubrovnik until the end of August, only for its license to be revoked on Thursday afternoon (July 2). The airline said it is doing everything in its power to maintain its services to Dubrovnik. It will propose, tomorrow, for the airline to receive a license for two flights each week just prior to the actual flight. Jat has said it also strongly supports Croatia Airlines to commence services from Zagreb to Belgrade in hope that this could soften the Croatian Aviation Authority’s stance. However, Croatia Airline has confirmed that it currently has no interest to fly to Serbia. “The countries in the region which Croatia Airlines does not serve are our potential future markets. Currently there is no bilateral air agreement between the two countries and thus there cannot be any cooperation between the two national carriers”, the airline’s PR manager said.

Marinka Haluzan, from the Croatian transportation ministry, said that “charter flights are not a part of air traffic agreements between countries, only regular airline flights”. Talks between the two countries are complex as they involve issues of ownership over airports and other companies which remain open from the days of the former Yugoslavia. Jat Airways has said that interest for the Dubrovnik flights have been greater than the interest generated when flights to Pula were launched last year. The airline’s spokesperson said that the only problem is that citizens from Pula have a much greater wish to visit Belgrade than those living in Dubrovnik.


  1. What whingy immature behaviour from both sides! They all need to grow up IMO...

    Here's a simple way to solve the problem: both CAAs meet in person by Friday of this week (10th July) to discuss JAT flights BEG-DBV, with no party allowed to leave the table until a solution is reached.

    If no soultion is reached, JU should pull their PUY flights despite their profitability. This is a situation where you can't have one route operating and not the other using the same rules...

    And the OU PR-manager's comments are hilarious: complete double-talk. Sadly, many journalists just don't know how to twist this type of verbal diarrhoea into 'Spokesperson X refused to answer the question'.

  2. So, to sum up the problem - Balkan.

  3. @ Anonymous your comment is racist

    Frequentflyer, maybe in the other room we could have Croatian and Slovene foreign ministers locked up and they wont be aloud to leave until the border dispute is resolved.

    Did Jat have permission or an official agreement to operate more then 2 flights?

    And, maybe OU is just showing good management in not starting services to Serbia (even though I think they would be very popular) for just this reason. With no official agreement between the two countries, OU operation to Serbia could be at the mercy, despite ticket sales, of the Serbian authorities and cancelled at any time.

  4. @ Q400

    No, it isn't. The fact I've used the term "Balkan" and not "the Balkans" should be some kind of an indicator that I'm from that area. Actually, I was born there and lived there through all the BS that went on. Also, it is a type of a comment heard frequently in ex-Yu.

    If anything, my comment is spot on. On one hand, you have an airline which is unfairly enjoying a monopolistic situation, which it uses to rip off the same population which had been supporting it throughout all these years, without which, the airline would have dissapeared a long time ago.

    On the other hand, you have an airline from a country which is desperately seeking tourists to get itself out of the current economic situation, and instead of letting it slide this year and get as many tourists as possible, they have approved only two flights (wtf?) and are asking for a bilateral agreement, but don't want to fly to that country. Where is the logic in this?

    This is a typical mentality of the people who live in that area...I know because I've experienced it, I didn't like it, and I got away from it (I just wish I hadn't gone through 4 wars before I finally got out). I love my country, but I'm also not afraid to criticize it when it deserves criticism.

  5. easyJet plans few new flights to Dubrovnik:

    from 12. July 2009,
    Berlin (Schoenefeld) to Dubrovnik and
    Paris Orly to Dubrovnik,

    from 02. August 2009,
    Milan Malpensa to Dubrovnik

  6. Please people stop being racist :(

    @ Q400

    Why is the term 'Balkan' racist?

  7. The term Balkan is not raciest but the context in which it was used definitely was.

    What we are seeing here happens around the world in business all the time. Including western countries such as the US and Australia.

    I'm not saying I agree with what is happening with Jat the CAA and Dubrovnik but someone somewhere did not do there job properly and decided to announce and sell tickets on flights which they did not have permission to operate.

  8. @Q400 - stick to flying small planes in that penal colony in the South Pacific called Oz-tralia... Racist? please.

    This situation is indeed very 'Balkan', and sums up very well the sort of ridiculous manner in which many bilateral business affairs are handled. This sort of bahaviour led to many of the problems in the 1990s as well...

  9. Damn, even that comment was racist.

  10. Just to clarify a few things...there are several people who are not registered and their user ID's are automatically Anonymous.

    I am the person who used the term "Balkan" and posted a reply to Q400's post on my comments being racist.

    I still stand by what I said. I don't mean to offend anybody, but those who are offended by it...well, perhaps you're just to easily offended.

    Frequentflyer, in another topic, posted that the term "Balkan" should be replaced with terms like "amateurism" or "disorganization". I disagree! What we're seeing here is not amateurism...amateurism would be Jat's management never having any experience in setting up a new route. They've done that plenty of times. Disorganization? Again, disagree. Croatia was clear about there being an approval for 2 flights only (again, wtf?), and Jat knew the situation. It's just that Jat didn't bother to convey the message to its passengers, and Croatia didn't really care to make that public, either.

    End result? Tourists who have gathered enough courage to go to Croatia were left scratching their heads, wondering "Now, what?" (no offense about "gathering courage", but let's face it - there is still bad blood between the two countries - I'm a Serb who spent a lot of post-war summers in Croatia and while I see a ton of people with warm smiles, I see some not-so-friendly facial expressions, which forces Serbian population to be a little skeptical about going to Croatia for the summer).

    So, I can, sort of get over Jat's stupidity. I'm used to it. They are abusing whatever power they have, they are draining every last euro-cent from its patrons. In Serbia, people are used to this sort of behavior.

    But, what was going through the heads of Croatian CAA when they said "Yeah, you can fly to Dubrovnik...TWICE!"? I mean, setting everything up for two flights?

    The bottom line is that Jat, hoping to get away with it once more, decided to accept the two-flight deal, banking on Croatia needing Serbian tourists. Well, it didn't happen. Why? Because Croatia wants a bilateral agreement. Seriously? Are they for real? Ok, where do you want to fly to? SPU-BEG. It'll take some time to set it up, by that time it will be August and (almost) the end of season. No, no, they don't want to fly to a destination in Serbia...they just want to have an agreement. Never mind that the country is on a verge of bankruptcy, "samo da komsiji crkne krava". This last thing sums up, nicely, the mentality of the people occupying the region. It also explains why we couldn't go our separate ways peacefully (or stay together, I don't care). Sure, a few Serbian Euros spent in Croatia will not be enough to revive Croatian economy, but perhaps a pleasant trip will result and the subsequent stories of a great vacation, which will bring more tourists and put an end to this idiotic bickering between the two countries.

    @Q400, I don't think that you can compare this situation with any other happening in countries like USA or Australia (if you provide specific examples, I'm sure I will be able to explain how they are not similar...well at least for the US, I'm not sure about Australia).

    Again, my comments are not meant to be racists...just a well deserved criticism for an childish behaviour.

  11. Let's get the facts right. Croatia has been trying for years to have the bilateral agreement signed, but the Serbian authorities have been ignoring that. Now JAT as a state company wants to operate flights to Croatia and lo and behold! there's no agreement. Who is to blame - Croatian or Serbian authorities?

    The same thing happened 2 years ago with flights to Portoroz (POW) when all the approvals had not been given before the start of operations. People at JAT should learn from experience and not blame everyone for their mistakes.

  12. @ Malisani

    I don't think that Croatia for the fact has been wanting an agreement signed, Serbia wanted to, to patch things up with Croatia because they were the 'main' agressors. The Croats don't forgive easily (but are proud).

  13. @ BOSNIAN

    It's not the matter of forgiveness, but of pragmatism. Croatian are more pragmatic in business, while Serbians stick to their old bureaucratic ways. The industry is changing so rapidly that Serbians simply can't keep the pace. At the end of the day, Croatians didn't have any problem approving the regular charter flights to PUY.

  14. @ malisani,

    What exactly does Croatia want with the agreement? They certainly don't want to fly to Serbia (they have even admitted that themselves), so what is the agreement for? To frame it and put it on the wall? To use it as a paperweight? Really, what is the point? The agreement won't matter soon because things in Serbian civil aviation should change once the open sky agreement starts to be used (it had already been approved by the gov't, and is awaiting to be enforced).

    Jat has not blamed anybody for the problem (as they shouldn't). They claimed that there was a miscommunication at first, but once the news broke out that they were really given a go-ahead for 2 flights only, they have been very quiet. They are probably trying to let it blow over because the public is already angry with them for other things.

    Also, you talked about the industry changing pace and Jat not being able to keep up with it. This is about as wrong as you can get. Look at all logic, the should've gone under. They are not making any money, gov't is spending too much money on them, their salaries are astronomically high, they haven't folded (even though some major airlines in the world did), they have great time slots at some of the biggest airports, they fly some of the worst and oldest planes, their customer service is a horror show - it is a beautiful thing to work for Jat. If this isn't a testament about their ability to survive, then I don't know what is. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that they are smart and have a sound business plan - but always seem to come out on top. Government gave them the monopoly, and is backing them up financially, and all they have to do is enjoy the ride. Yeah, it may end soon, but many people working at Jat are close to retirement, and with the buy-out package the government will most likely give them, they will be set for life. If I was in that indistry, I'd love to work there.

  15. Look, it's all to do with politics and hatred still. Until this current generation gets wiped away, there won't be 100% peace in the countries of former Yugoslavia.

  16. @ Anonymus

    Croatia wanted the agreement signed probably because they had plans to start flights to PRN. Now they don't need such an agreement with Serbia. BTW such agreements are signed even if there are no scheduled services between two countries.

    You couldn't be more right about JAT. It's like a cockroach - practically indestructible! It may be great for its employees, but for passengers, agents and others in the industry it's a nightmare. And believe me, whoever wants to keep sanity shouldn't even dream of working there.

  17. Well, hasn't this been an interesting comments page? One of the livliest and heated since the inception of the blog!

    @ Anonymous (post #10)
    It might be an idea for those who regularly post as 'Anonymous' but don't have a Blogger a/c to learn how to use the 'Choose an Identity' below: click the third radio button marked 'Name/URL' and create a regular name for yourself! Just in one of your initial posts, add (formerly Anonymous) so we know who you are!!

    @ Bosnian / Malisani
    Having a FTA between countries is also a powerful political symbol between them and purely there for scheduled flights. In the case of Croatia and Serbia, the last serious mention of the FTA was when OU wanted flights to PRN (before Kosovo declaration) and could be viewed as an olive branch approach.

    Both sides will need to move forward from this situation, and fast. Though the distrust in some sectors after this episode could only be described as high on the Richter scale!

  18. @ frequentflyer

    I didn't know that Croatia Airlines wanted to start flights to Pristina before Pristina declared independence!

    (JUST A THOUGHT) it's a problem for all airliners around the world of the country's who haven't recognised Kosovo to start flights to Pristina. I don't know how my carrier, B&H Airlines will start flights to Pristina again (which it is proposing to do next year)as Bosnia and Herzegovina has not recognised the nation.

  19. @malisani: I don’t think many Jat employees would agree with you about how you describe their pay checks. The average wage in Jat is lower than the average wage in Serbia (so its around 300-350 Euros a month). The only people that get high pay checks is the management which is named by the government and they often have never worked in Jat.

  20. @ EX-YU Aviation

    I didn't comment on paychecks, I only agreed with frequentflyer on how protected JAT employees are. I do agree with your comment about the management, but 80% of the employees have been lost in time and space as well. I feel sorry for other 20% of them who are hard workers and know their jobs.

  21. ^

    Who do you know at Jat and what the h*ll do you know about their employees and what they're paid? You've translated a couple of articles from Blic and now you think you know the airline inside and out?

    Your comments are both disrespectful and poisenous.

    I suggest you re-read your comments, and retract them as you have done other comments in the past that you have found to be 'rude'.

  22. This is certainly getting heated up.....


    Ajde narode, nemoj te se svadjati, nije fino!

  23. Please explain to me how I’m disrespectful to those employees in Jat? I said that they do not earn as much as some people say unlike the management, often set up by the government which has had minimal experience working with Jat.


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