EX-YU without links to the USAlmost all of the countries of the former Yugoslavia have a desire to be served by direct flights to the United States. Last year Belgrade and Zagreb came close when Swift Air announced it would launch services from Chicago to the two capitals. In the end, the inaugural flight, with 221 passengers onboard, was cancelled minutes before it was meant to depart due to problems with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This year there has been no talk of flights between the United States and EX-YU, however, there have been some developments.
Earlier this month Croatia Airlines and US Airways signed a bilateral code share agreement, allowing the Croatian carrier to code share on US Airways’ services from Europe to Philadelphia and Charlotte. The Croatian national carrier also added its code on US Airways flights from Philadelphia to Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis, making it the only airline in the former Yugoslavia with its own codes on US bound flights. Zagreb Airport says that some 105.000 passengers travel on a yearly basis between the United States and the Croatian capital with 64% of passengers originating from the States. Furthermore, Dubrovnik Airport notes that approximately over 3.000 passengers travel from New York to Dubrovnik each year. So far, no American based airline has expressed interest to inaugurate flights to Croatia.
Meanwhile, Jat Airways is locked in negotiations with a foreign airline to launch flights from Belgrade to New York in cooperation with the Serbian carrier. The flights would operate in a similar fashion to those in 2004 when Uzbekistan Airways flew between Tashkent and New York via Belgrade. However, if an agreement is made, flights won’t be launched until the 2013 summer season. Next month the FAA will assess whether Serbia has met necessary safety standards which would allow both American and Serbian airlines to operate between the two countries, granting Serbia a category one ranking. Recently, Belgrade Airport launched a feasibility study, exploring the potential of transatlantic flights from the Serbian capital.
Last August Macedonia and the US signed an Open Skies Agreement. It allows unrestricted access by airlines from each side to fly to, from and beyond the other’s territory, without restriction on how often carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they charge. The agreement came into effect immediately upon signing. Montenegro followed suit in December 2011 by ratifying the same agreement. Adria Airways has discussed a potential partnership on transatlantic flights with Air India which would see the Indian carrier operate some of its services from Mumbai to New York via Ljubljana. However, talks have stalled with Air India dealing with its own financial woes.
JAT in New York, March 1981Priština Airport was the last to be served by direct flights from the United States, several years ago from New York as a seasonal charter. In the late 1980s the former Yugoslavia had direct links to New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Los Angeles. Flights to the US were operated by JAT Yugoslav Airlines and Pan Am.