FAA to make decision on Serbia’s rating
Today in Belgrade, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will begin its final assessment of Serbia’s aviation authorities which could see the country upgraded from its current category two status to category one, paving way for scheduled flights between the two countries, impossible under the present rating. The FAA will assess whether the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate meets US and international safety standards and whether it has adequate infrastructure for international aviation safety oversight as defined by international standards. The evaluation will last seven days. Serbia is optimistic it will be granted the category one status it lost in 2004.
Serbia’s Assistant Minister for Air Transport, Milutin Popović, says, “We are ready to obtain a category one status and, after this check, we could receive it quickly if the FAA inspectors are content with their findings. We anticipate a positive outcome”. One of the country’s major hurdles in obtaining a category one ranking was the absence of an independent air accidents investigation authority. Serbia will form one this year. Last February, during its preliminary checks, the FAA found that regulations in Serbia‘s air sector are in line with international standards.
The last time Serbia was linked with the US was in 2004 when Uzbekistan Airways operated flights from Belgrade to the Big Apple. Air Serbia has said it plans to launch transatlantic flights in 2016. Last year, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that Etihad Airways’ CEO, James Hogan, 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 a Serbian carrier applied to operate flights to the US was in August 2003 when Jat Airways submitted its application to provide “nonstop scheduled flights of persons, property and mail two times per week between Belgrade and New York and Chicago using a 271 seat DC-10-30 aircraft”. The FAA never responded to the application.
|Serbia's last air bilateral with the US was inked in 1989|
Croatia is currently the only country in the former Yugoslavia with a category one status, which it obtained 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. However, most countries have inked an Air Transport Agreement with the US, designed to promote air travel between the signatory parties. Serbia, as the legal successor to Yugoslavia, last signed an Air Transport Memorandum of Understanding with the United States on June 28, 1989. Since then, no other form of bilateral cooperation in the field of aviation has been made between the two countries.