Serbia hopes to renew US flights
Serbia expects to be granted a “category one” rating by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States on March 24, paving way for scheduled flights between the two countries, currently impossible under Serbia’s “category two” status. Following a meeting with the Ambassador of the United States to Serbia Michael Kirby, Serbia’s Minister for Transport, Aleksandar Antić, said, “Given our country’s ambition to become a regional leader in the field of air transport, the FAA’s positive decision would be of great importance and would allow Serbia’s national carrier, Air Serbia, to fly to the United States as well”.
The Serbian carrier has previously said it plans to launch transatlantic flights in 2016. Last year, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan has confirmed plans for the Serbian carrier to operate flights to Chicago and Toronto in 2016 with Airbus A330 aircraft. However, Mr. Vučić added he was pushing for transatlantic flights to be launched later this year, in particular to New York. The last time Serbia was linked with the US was in 2004 when Uzbekistan Airways operated flights from Belgrade to the Big Apple.
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. Serbia held a category one rating until 2002 when it was downgraded to category two. Croatia was granted a category one status on January 24, 2011. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Kosovo must be assessed again since, in the past four years, they either did not have direct flights to the United States, have no codeshare agreements with US carriers or have no significant interaction with the FAA.