|Serbia and Kosovo to discuss aviation link|
Flights between Belgrade and Pristina are expected to launch in 2015 for the first time in sixteen years. The Kosovan Minister Without a Portfolio in Charge of Dialogue, Edita Tahiri, recently said that the governments of both Serbia and Kosovo will discuss air transport links at high level reconciliation talks which resumed in Brussels yesterday, following a ten-month hiatus. Kosovan media state it is “a matter of months” before Air Serbia launches services between Belgrade and Pristina. Furthermore, an agreement signed between the two blocks in Kosovo’s ruling coalition, LDK-PDK and the Serbian Srpska List, foresee the introduction of flights between the two cities.
The head of Kosovo’s Civil Aviation Authority, Driton Gjonbalaj, says Air Serbia has not requested permits to fly to Pristina yet. “I do not have any additional information other than those already made public. Edita Tahiri recently stated that air transport will be discussed at upcoming talks between Serbia and Kosovo”, Mr. Gjonbalaj said. Air Serbia has made no secret of its intentions to fly to Pristina. In October last year, the carrier’s Chairman, Siniša Mali said, “Our goal is to eventually fly twice daily to all cities in the region but before we do that we need to connect the last two cities in the former Yugoslavia that we do not fly to yet - Zagreb and Pristina”. Air Serbia has since launched double daily flights to the Croatian capital.
Kosovo’s upper airspace was reopened for commercial traffic in April 2014 after Serbia and Kosovo agreed that airlines could fly over Kosovo and enter Serbian airspace. The upper airspace control over Kosovo has been in the hands of Hungary’s Hungarocontrol since 2011. Flights between Belgrade and Pristina could attract a number of transit passengers. In 2014, the largest number of travellers from Pristina, who transited through various cities, were on their way to New York. Over 10.000 passengers had onward connections to John F. Kennedy Airport, followed by London Heathrow and Helsinki at 7.000. Other popular destinations included Oslo (6.800 passengers), Copenhagen (5.800), Zurich and Frankfurt (5.000). Some 4.000 passengers, who began their journey in Pristina, flew to Chicago as their final destination, while a further 3.800 were headed to Washington. Moreover, 3.000 travellers were bound for Toronto, while an additional 2.100 were headed to Newark Liberty Airport last year.