Saturday, December 19, 2009

Visa free

Passenger numbers expected to rise in 2010
From today the citizens of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro can travel without visas to 29 countries that are part of Europe’s Schengen Zone or those that will soon join. The implications this is having on air travel in the EX-YU region can already be felt.

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.


  1. Ah amazing news!!!

    But I do not see how Larnaca was reduced when the ticket was the same price as before, I believe that was because Cyprus is not in Schengen. But still great news for the LCA flights!!!

    by the way the average load factor for the LCA flights is around 70% for those interested.

  2. Well, even though Cyprus is not yet in Schengen, visas are not needed anymore for this country.

  3. I don't think that Bosnia and Herzegovina will make it next year, they still need to learn their lesson on how to manage a country PROPERLY. I'm glad that my country is excluded actually only because some of the politicians will now only feel more excluded compared to it's neighbours. Grow up Banja Luka and Sarajevo!

    Truly, congratulations to Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia! Hope you enjoy your visa-free travel around the EU :)

  4. @Marko
    yes i know that, i live here, but all i am saying that there was no discount for the flights to Larnaca even tough we can enter Cyprus with no visa now...

    Well still like I said, it's great news taht the flights were full especially the ones to here!

  5. Happy Schengen Day!

    (well, it should be a new holiday)

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  8. This is not a political forum and discussion about politics is not allowed.

  9. ...wait Cyprus is part of the EU yeah?

  10. @Bosnian

    yes Cyprus is in the EU since 2004 but not part of the schengen due to the green line issue


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