|Serbia and Croatia to hand Bosnia control of its airspace next week|
For the first time in its history, Bosnia and Herzegovina will take control of its own airspace next Wednesday, October 1. The country will gain sovereignty over its own skies which were up until now administered jointly by Serbia (55%) and Croatia (45%) from air traffic control centres in Belgrade and Zagreb respectively. Bosnia is also set to get hold of some fifteen million euros in annual revenues from airspace operations. The long transition process has been severely delayed. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, each separate country was supposed to establish its own air traffic control body. However, Bosnia failed to do so with its airspace controlled by international peacekeeping forces until 2007, after which neighbouring Serbia and Croatia took over. As a result, the two countries share revenue from commercial airlines flying over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Eurocontrol, the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA), as well as Croatia Control, assisted their Bosnian counterparts with the installation and construction of necessary facilities, the supply and testing of equipment and training of local personnel. More than 23 million euros have been invested in the new air traffic control system, most of which came from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Bosnia established its Air Navigation Services Agency (BHANSA) back in 2009, which will now be responsible for air transport in the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina will, from October 1, have two airspace control centres, one in Sarajevo and the other in Banja Luka, and they will function together.
The Minister for Transport and Communication of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Damir Hadžić, says, “This is a small step for the region, but a big one for Bosnia. We suffered big financial losses by using the services of our neighbours, but from now on the money will stay in our pockets. This is one of the most complex projects implemented in Bosnia”. The seventeen air traffic controllers from Bosnia and Herzegovina completed their training in Belgrade last year and will take up their positions on October 1. They will gain control of the country’s airspace in phases, with the full transition process, overseen by SMATSA, to be completed within two months.