Potential AZAL - Jat partnership on US flights
The national carrier of Azerbaijan, AZAL, is considering launching flights to the United States via Belgrade in cooperation with Jat Airways, Serbia’s Ambassador to the Caucus nation, Zoran Vajović, confirms. Talks between the two airlines regarding possible flights to the United States have been ongoing for the past several months. “Since last year Jat Airways and AZAL have been negotiating the launch of joint flights from Baku to the United States via Belgrade. Talks have also been taking place regarding other joint flights and cooperation”, Vajović says. The flights would operate similar to those in 2004 when Uzbekistan Airways ran services from Tashkent to New York City via the Serbian capital.
Two weeks ago Azerbaijan and the United States began talks on finalising an Open Sky Agreement between the two countries. AZAL plans to launch flights to the US during the 2013 summer season. On the other hand, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is about to begin its review of Serbia’s categorisation. The procedure may take three to six months to complete and involves a visit by FAA officials to Serbia to inspect safety and other aviation standards. The country was downgraded by the FAA in 2004 on “regulatory shortcomings” and for failing to meet FAA criteria, thus unabling flights between the two nations. It is expected that Serbia will be granted a category one rating this time around.
Sources close to Jat have confirmed that talks with AZAL have been taking place, as recently as two weeks ago in Baku. In preparation for Serbia’s upgrade to the category one rating by the FAA, Jat is looking for a partner to operate the flights to the US since it is unable to do so itself. Serbia and Azerbaijan have forged close political and economic ties recently. Last Thursday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel highlighted the need for flights between Belgrade and Chicago, adding that he will work on establishing services between the two cities by the spring of 2013. Chicago is considered to have the second largest Serbian population after Belgrade.