Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Patchy implementation of Serbia - Kosovo air deal


Despite an agreement reached in October 2014 to allow Kosovan passport holders to transit through Belgrade and Niš airports, its implementation remains patchy and dependent on airports and airlines. Gezim Krasniqi, who was set to fly from Geneva to Belgrade last month, was prevented from doing so by the operating carrier - easyJet - who told him that Kosovan passport holders are not allowed to fly to Belgrade and was rerouted to Pristina instead. Mr Krasniqi, who lives in London, flew successfully to Belgrade using his Kosovan passport twice, once from Ljubljana and once from Podgorica. “The company was not aware of the arrangement between Kosovo and Serbia and they refused to contact Belgrade Airport. Later, the company’s representative told me they never had a passenger with Kosovan documents fly from Geneva to Belgrade”, Mr Krasnqi told "Pristina Insight". Similarly, another passenger was denied boarding on a LOT Polish Airlines flights between Warsaw and Belgrade. In such cases, there is no refund provided to the traveller. The Kosovo Liaison officer to Serbia, Valdet Sadiku, says the enforcement of the agreement largely depends on the airport and airline. Mr Sadiku himself has been unable to board a flight from Brussels to the Serbian capital. However, some passengers have been successful in flying to Serbia with Kosovan documents. “On September 27, 2015 I took a flight from Florence to Belgrade, via Rome. I had no issues at Nikola Tesla Airport, except that I had to wait a bit longer until the border police officer in Belgrade found the document which is issued to Kosovan citizens when entering Serbia. Flying back from Serbia to Florence via Rome was as seamless as it could possibly get", the passenger said. However, a month later they were denied boarding on the same flight.

Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to accelerate plans to establish services between Belgrade and Pristina. Late last year, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, spoke of the importance of resuming flights between Pristina and Belgrade in order for travellers to transfer onto Air Serbia's planned service to New York. He added that Air Serbia hopes to tap into the large "Albanian diaspora living in New York". "We want our national airline to land at Pristina Airport", he said. Due to the difficult and sensitive past shared by the two sides, it has been suggested for Air Serbia to initially run flights to Pristina with its Aviolet branded aircraft, so as to avoid Serbian signage and branding at Pristina Airport for the time being, though the Kosovan side has not requested for such measures.


  1. 17 years have passed since the end of the Kosovo War. Kosovo does not contest the independence of Serbia or Serbian national symbols. There is no need for Air Serbia to avoid using its own signage and branding.

    1. Where did you get the idea that AS is avoiding using its own signage and branding?

    2. Sorry, just reread the last part or the article.

    3. True, Kosovo authorities love to close the crossings and to allow Self-Determination guys to tip over trucks and so on.

  2. According to the article, there are no problems in the implementation on the part of Serbia. Maybe Kosovo diplomacy could try to better inform European carriers about the agreement?

  3. This is a simple technical issue.

    IATA entry requirements database clearly says "No, The documentation you hold is NOT sufficient for the journey you have specified." for using the Kosovo passport to enter through the Belgrade airport.

    I'm not 100% sure about direct airside transits. Those are usually allowed for most nationalities, but not always (for example, UK used require a visa even for direct airside transit through LHR for citizens of Serbia & Montenegro).

    This is what airline check-in agents use to check your documents and allow/deny boarding. They don't have personal knowledge of the intricacies of diplomatic relations between any pair of countries, nor the authority to decide on their own.

    The IATA database needs to be updated to reflect the 2014 agreement, but apparently no relevant authorities have bothered to do this. This is a technical issue, not a political one.

  4. UK still requires a visa even for direct airside transit for Serbian citizens...


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