Qatar’s Belgrade service in doubt

Turkey blocking Qatar Airways’ Belgrade flights
Qatar Airways is reconsidering launching flights to the Serbian capital since Turkey has refused to grant rights for services between Doha and Belgrade to operate via Ankara, a source close to the airline tells EX-YU aviation news. The flights were originally planned to launch in late September, however, they are now in doubt as Turkey does not want to grant fifth freedom rights to the Qatari carrier, which would allow it to sell tickets on the Ankara - Belgrade - Ankara sector. Qatar Airways plans to operate the service four times per week with an Airbus A320. Similarly, the airline operates flights to Zagreb via Budapest but has been given full rights to sell tickets between the two European capitals.

A recent IATA report states that despite the trend towards liberalisation, there remain considerable government restrictions on airline operations to and from Turkey. “Most of the air service agreements to which Turkey is a signatory remain restrictive in nature, with many having limits on capacity, designated airports and, in some cases, approved airlines and pricing”, the report states. Both Croatia and Serbia have had problems with Turkey prior to this year’s summer season when it came to agreeing on frequencies and granting licenses to charter airlines. Last month, Qatar and Serbia signed a Free Skies Agreement, allowing airlines from Qatar to operate as many flights as they wish to Serbia.

Meanwhile, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, has opened its sales office in the Serbian capital. The Etihad office will cover not only Serbia but also Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro. Jat Airways has a Special Prorate Agreement with the Gulf carrier, selling tickets to Australia in cooperation with Etihad.

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