Dubrovnik AirportLoudly 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.