|Serbia and Kosovo to discuss Belgrade - Pristina flights on October 13|
Serbia and Kosovo are set to discuss the launch of a new Belgrade - Pristina air service during high level, EU-moderated, reconciliation talks between the two sides known as the Brussels Dialogue on October 13. Originally, the potential resumption of flights between the two cities, following a sixteen year hiatus, were discussed in April by the Serbian and Kosovan Chambers of Commerce. However, the Kosovan Minister Without a Portfolio in Charge of Dialogue with Belgrade, Edita Tahiri, requested for the issue to be examined at a higher level, deeming it a political, rather than an economic, matter. The Head of the Serbian government's Office for Kosovo, Marko Djurić, confirmed last night that the flights will now be discussed as part of the dialogue. "One of the topics that will be covered during the October 13 talks include the launch of a Belgrade - Pristina air service", Mr Djurić said. The two delegations will be headed by Ms Tahiri and Mr Djurić.
Kosovan media have stated 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. Previously, the Slot Coordinator at Pristina Airport, Driton Hyseni, said, “Both countries have targets to join the European Union, and direct flights will give a good signal that our two nations are leaving the past behind, and looking for a better future”. Last October, the Serbian government reached an agreement with its Kosovan counterpart to extend a free movement agreement, allowing Kosovan passport holders to transit through Belgrade Airport.
The Chairman of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board, Siniša Mali, said last October, “Our goal is to eventually fly twice daily to all capital 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. The establishment of services between Belgrade and Pristina has been marked as a high priority by the Serbian government. It has been suggested for the flights to be initially run by a foreign carrier, which would be granted rights to operate the route. Currently, the quickest way to fly between Belgrade and Pristina is via Vienna, with journey time of over three and a half hours. JAT Yugoslav Airlines was the last to operate scheduled flights between the two cities.