|Air Serbia plans New York, Chicago and Toronto service in 2016|
The President of the Supervisory Board of Air Serbia, Siniša Mali, has said the airline will launch flights from Belgrade to New York, Chicago and Toronto in early 2016. Speaking at a business forum earlier this week, Mr. Mali described the move as the “crowning moment” for the airline, following efforts put in over the past year and a half in its development. "It will mark the return of the national carrier to the position held by JAT in the 1970s and 1980s, when it operated flights to the United States”, Mr. Mali said. He added, “We will continue to consolidate Air Serbia's position by making investments that will allow the airline to continue on its current trajectory of further growth”.
In a recent interview to “The Australian” newspaper, Air Serbia’s CEO, Dane Kondić, expressed his hope that the carrier will launch transatlantic flights within the next twelve to fourteen months. Mr. Kondić said, “In terms of Belgrade and Serbia re-emerging in the world, it’s a natural ambition for the country to want to reconnect to many of the markets and places that they used to fly. However, Air Serbia had no aspirations to fly all over the world the way Jat Airways used to”, Mr. Kondić said. However, the CEO added that the airline will also look at other parts of the world, continuing to build Belgrade as a hub to achieve the critical mass necessary for long haul flying.
Serbia and the United States have reached an initial agreement to regulate air traffic between the two countries. The Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made a principle agreement on all disputed provisions in order to modify their 1977 Bilateral Air Service Agreement. However, the new agreement is yet to be signed, despite initial plans to do so in December last year. During 2014, the FAA upgraded Serbia from a category two to a category one status, allowing airlines registered in Serbia to operate flights to the US. The upgrade does not grant the national carrier or any other airline from Serbia automatic rights to operate services to the United States. After revising the Bilateral Air Service Agreement, Air Serbia will have to apply for a license with the US Department of Transport in order to be given necessary permits to launch flights.