Serbia anticipates the all clear from the USA
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States is likely 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.
An FAA delegation arrived in Serbia yesterday and will carry out its assessment throughout the week. The assessment is crucial in order for an audit to take place, which represents the final hurdle before being granted a category one rating. Local authorities are adamant that the country will be granted a category one rating by the end of the year. 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. Furthermore, the categorisation has a strong impact on US based carriers when deciding on potential new destinations.
In the EX-YU region Slovenia and Croatia hold a category one rating. Croatia received its category one status in January 2011, allowing Croatia Airlines to code share on US Airways flights within the United States. Montenegro continues to hold a category two rating, while Bosnia and Macedonia have not been reviewed by the authorities. Currently, there are no flights between the EX-YU region and the United States. In 2011 charter airline Swift Air was to launch flights from Chicago to Belgrade and Zagreb. In the end, the inaugural flight, with 221 passengers onboard, was cancelled minutes before it was meant to depart due to problems with the FAA. A few years ago Priština enjoyed summer charters to the United States while Uzbekistan Airlines operated services from its base in Tashkent to New York via Belgrade for a year.