Midnight fireworks in Belgrade marked the collapse of visa restriction the citizens of Serbia had endured for the past 18 years. Five minutes past midnight Jat Airways’ special flight to Brussels took off carrying 50 exceptional passengers who have never ventured outside of Serbia’s boarders. Recently, Jat launched a ticket sale entitled “Europe for all of us”. A Jat spokeswoman said the airline managed to sell 5.700 tickets on December 1 and 2 when the European Union confirmed that visa restrictions would be lifted. She also stated that the most popular were flights to Paris, Frankfurt, Athens and Vienna. Due to the popularity of the discounted ticket sale, this offer has now been extended on flights to Gothenburg and Larnaca. Late last night, Jat informed that it has managed to sell every single ticket on 11 flights today, all of which are heading towards European cities.
Meanwhile, Niki and airBaltic, which will commence services to Belgrade in the following months, are believed to be a direct cause of the visa liberation. On Friday Greece’s Aegean Airlines began negotiations with Belgrade Airport management and it hopes to begin flights to the Serbian capital on January 1, 2010. Similarly, Wizz Air is in negotiations to base an aircraft in Belgrade although this is believed to happen only if the Serbian Tourism Agency heavily subsidises the flights.
Without much euphoria Montenegro welcomed the visa liberation. Montenegro Airlines will today organise a special promotional flight to Rome and Ljubljana on which exceptional Montenegrins (students, farmers and people suffering economic hardship) will be flown for a 1 day field trip. Montenegro recently began a promotional ticket sale to its European destinations.
Montenegro is currently not served by any low cost airline. Whether the visa liberation will entice low cost carriers to commence services to the country remains to be seen. The Montenegrin Government recently stated that low cost airlines are not interested in starting up flights to Tivat and Podgorica.
Macedonia kicked off celebrations under the slogan “White Day – Macedonia without visas”. In cooperation with the Turkish Corendon Airlines, the Macedonian Government has organised a special charter flight to Paris for 100 people. The passengers will leave for the French capital this evening. Despite the demise of Macedonia’s national carrier, many airlines have increased frequencies to Skopje this year. The main reason for this being MAT’s bankruptcy. However, the visa liberation is projected to heavily increase passenger numbers out of Macedonia next year.
Slovenia is part of Europe’s Schengen Zone while Croatian citizens do not need visas to enter the European Union. Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina now remains the only EX-YU country whose citizens are still required to have visas. However, according to messages from Brussels, this could change mid next year.
Due to heavy snow storms Podgorica Airport has been closed for the entire day. All flights, including those specially chartered to celebrate the end of visa restrictions have been cancelled until further notice.