|Belgrade - Baku service imminent according to Serbian government|
The Serbian government has announced that flights to Azerbaijan are likely to be launched soon as the two countries have already prepared the legal framework for future services. During the fourth meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation held in Baku on Monday, Serbia and Azerbaijan drafted an Air Service Agreement, which the two sides say will be signed and ratified shortly. “We think that this area [aviation] is a priority for the development of relations between our countries and we will strive to get it [Air Service Agreement] signed quickly. The legal framework established between Azerbaijan and Serbia allows for our relations to continue developing without any limitations or problems", the Azeri Economy and Industry Minister, Shahin Mustafayev, said.
The Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajić, said there is strong interest for flights between Belgrade and Baku to be launched and that the two sides are now studying ways in which airlines from both countries can cooperate on this route. "A direct air service, which will be introduced, will help expand and improve both travel, as well as our economic relations. This is the first step in boosting our ties", the Minister said. Mr Ljajić added that travel between the two countries will be fuelled by Serbia's plan to abolish visa requirements for Azeri citizens. "We are offering a full liberalisation of the visa regime, where citizens of both Azerbaijan and Serbia can travel to each others' countries without visas". Currently, Azeri citizens require visas for almost all countries in Europe with exception to several former Soviet states, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia.
Azerbaijan's national carrier, AZAL, considered flying to Belgrade on several occasions. The carrier at one point was interested in acquiring a stake in Serbia's former national airline Jat Airways and contemplated operating some of its US-bound flights via the Serbian capital. In 2011, it was also discussed for its flights to Zurich to operate via Belgrade in order to make the service more viable. The Serbian government offered to issue the carrier fifth freedom rights at the time, allowing AZAL to sell tickets on the Belgrade - Zurich sector as well. AZAL maintains flights to a number of European cities. It operates a fleet of 32 aircraft including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.