|Serbian registered airlines can now fly to the USA|
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has upgraded Serbia from a category two to a category one status, allowing carriers from the country to operate flights to the United States and codeshare with US-based airlines and vice versa. Yesterday, the FAA announced that Serbia complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards. The category one status granted to the country is based on a March 2014 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Directorate of Serbia, and an FAA verification of necessary corrective actions during a follow up visit this month. A category one rating means the country's civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards.
With Serbia obtaining a category one status, its national carrier has jumped over a major hurdle in establishing services to the United States. In an interview to EX-YU Aviation News last week, Etihad Airways CEO, James Hogan, said he is “very keen” for his equity partner, Air Serbia, to establish direct services to the United States. “We discussed this with the [Serbian] Prime Minister. We are doing a business plan. If the numbers stack up flights will maybe launch at the end of 2015”. Commenting on the FAA’s decision yesterday, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, said, “I would like to thank [the US Ambassador to Serbia] Mr. Kirby, as we have obtained rights to fly to the US after several decades. In the second half of 2015 there will be flights to Chicago and we are pushing for New York as well”.
Serbia has held a category two rating since 2006. A category two rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures, as was the case in Serbia. In order to maintain a category one rating, Serbia must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations' technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.