USA to give all clearThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States is to grant Serbia a “category one” rating this year, paving way for scheduled flights between the United States and Serbia. As part of the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or wish to operate to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments also determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting international safety standards. Specifically, the FAA determines whether a foreign civil aviation authority has the adequate infrastructure for international aviation safety oversight as defined by international standards.
The head of the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate, Nebojša Starčević, has told the media that Serbia has applied for an assessment by the FAA, with the review set to take place by August. “Serbia meets all international safety standards and there is no doubt that American authorities will confirm this”, Starčević said. He noted that obtaining the category one rating would be much quicker if an airline were to apply to launch flights between the two countries. Serbia held a category one rating until 2002 when it was downgraded to category two. It has since been reviewed twice when there was both the will and political backing for Jat Airways to launch flights to the United States, in 2004 and 2006. While it is highly unlikely for the Serbian carrier to be able to launch flights to the United States now, a category one rating would give it rights to code share on flights operated by airlines from the United States. However, Starčević remains optimistic, saying that Jat could be ready to launch flights to the US by 2014.
The announcement coincides with the opening of a tender by Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport for interested parties to work on the development of a feasibility study for flights between the Serbian capital and the United States. The last commercial flight betwen Belgrade to the United States was operated by JAT Yugoslav Airlines on May 19, 1992 from New York. Recently, on January 27, 2011 the FAA granted Croatia a category one rating.