|Air Serbia to enhance network and services as US permit process advances|
Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, has said 2016 will bring new developments to the airline, labelling the excitement around its planned flights to New York as "incredible". In his monthly address, published in the "Elevate" magazine, Mr Kondić said, "January is the start of a new chapter for Air Serbia and we have big plans for the next twelve months. Our goal in 2016 is to improve the Air Serbia travel experience for our guests by enhancing our network, products and services". He adds, "First off, in June, a short five months away, we are going to launch our first long haul service between Belgrade and New York, reconnecting the Balkan region with the United States and its sizable diaspora after a break of 24 years. The excitement surrounding this is incredible and continues to grow. In addition, we are widening our network with new codeshare services. As a leading regional airline, we believe that staying at the forefront of aviation technology is crucial if we are to offer a best-in-class experience".
Regarding its service to New York, the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) has tentatively concluded that it is in the public interest for Air Serbia to be issued a foreign air carrier permit to engage in: "scheduled foreign air transportation of persons, property, and mail from points behind the Republic of Serbia, via Serbia and intermediate points to a point or points in the United States and beyond", as well as scheduled all-cargo and passenger charter flights to and beyond the United States. This latest conclusion, issued late last month and the second on the matter in December, is provisional and any interested party has until this Friday to show cause why the tentative decision should not be made final. The DoT's ruling will give way for the implementation of a codeshare agreement between Air Berlin and Air Serbia, allowing the latter to place its flight numbers and designator code onto Air Berlin's services from Germany to New York, Chicago and Miami. Furthermore, it builds upon the Serbian airline's request to operate flights to New York with its own metal. Air Serbia must still complete the FAA 129 certification in order to operate services to the States with its own aircraft. The process, which is underway and concerns Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport as well, is expected to be completed in February.
In its findings, the DoT says, "In particular, we tentatively find that grant of this authority is in the public interest; that the applicant demonstrated, based on the record, that it is financially and operationally qualified to perform the services authorised, and that the applicant is effectively controlled by citizens of its claimed homeland". It adds, "To the extent that a question may exist as to the ownership of the applicant, we find that a waiver is warranted in the circumstances presented. The carrier is properly licensed by the Government of Serbia to perform the proposed services, and there is no evidence on the record which would suggest that the ownership of Air Serbia would be inimical to US aviation policy or interests". If timely and properly supported objections are filed, the regulator will give further consideration to the matters and issues raised by the objections before it takes further action. In the event no objections are filed, all further procedural steps shall be deemed waived, and the Department will enter an order which will make final its tentative findings and conclusions.