Friday, February 10, 2017

Serbia and Kosovo plan air travel resumption


Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to accelerate plans to establish flights between Belgrade and Pristina. The Serbian government has this week formed a task force for the "normalisation of air travel in the Balkans" with its main objective being the resumption of services between the two cities after eighteen years. The fifteen-member group is made up of representatives from various state institutions and will focus on ways to overcome ongoing bureaucratic procedures and unresolved airspace issues. "The introduction of flights between Belgrade and Pristina forms part of the EU-brokered Brussels Agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. This service is of high importance to Air Serbia as well. Due to the large Albanian diaspora, flights from Pristina have potential for success", a spokesperson from the Serbian government said.

Since Serbia and Kosovo have not regulated portions of their airspace which border each other, the Serbian government has suggested for Air Serbia's aircraft departing Belgrade to fly into Macedonia before turning north-west towards Pristina, and thus avoid direct entry from Serbia. The routing would add an additional fifteen minutes to the journey. "A large number of people travel from Kosovo and Albania to North America. Therefore, we have a clear business interest to include Pristina in our destination network and in turn boost passenger numbers on our other flights", the Chairman of the Air Serbia Supervisory Board, Siniša Mali, said yesterday. Some 15.000 travellers flew from Pristina to New York's JFK and Newark Liberty airports last year. Of those, 10.900 were headed for JFK Airport to which Air Serbia maintains flights from Belgrade. Other cities in North America which saw a notable number of passengers departing Pristina include Chicago, Washington and Toronto.

Commenting on the potential resumption of flights between the two cities, Pristina Airport has 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”. Previously, the Serbian government reached an agreement with its Kosovan counterpart to extend a free movement agreement, allowing Kosovan passport holders to transit through Belgrade and Niš airports. Currently, the fastest 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.

121 comments:

  1. A bit of humor to lighten up the mood.

    Exclusive photos of the inaugural BEG-PRN flight:

    http://www.njuz.net/prva-fotografija-iz-aviona-na-liniji-beograd-pristina/

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    Replies
    1. haha good one.

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    2. I still think the first flight to Chicago is best :D

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCqQK_Cz0qE

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    3. LOL @ 9:24. Opste ludilo :)))

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    4. when the next flight to Chicago?
      I do want to live this pravoslavni experience!

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  2. It's a matter of time before this happens. Would this be JU's shortest route? Or would it still be Banja Luka?

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    1. Yes. Pristina is slightly shorter than Banja Luka. If the flights would operate without any detours to Macedonia flight time would be scheduled at around 45 minutes (but would probably be shorter in reality).

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    2. Actually the flight to Sarajevo is and would remain Air Serbia's shortest, followed by Pristina.

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    3. ^ True forgot about SJJ.

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  3. So they see potential in Pristina but not in Nis? Great!

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    Replies
    1. PRN would be yet another political project paid for by the Serbian taxpayers.

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    2. Yeah actually I do think there is more potential from PRN then from INI.

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    3. Of course. Every route served by JU is either a gasterbeiter or political route. lol. Gimme a break.

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    4. Not all but this one would be.

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    5. Anon 9:05 doesnt know that New York is the busiest unserved route from Priština.

      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/01/pristina-demand-for-us-flights-grows.html?m=1

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    6. True but still passengers today fly to JFK with Austrian, Lufthansa (Adria), Swiss (Edelweiss), Norwegian, SAS and Turkish. So just small part of 15.000 passengers will use BEG to JFK, especially that BEG has just 3 flights pw in most of the year. Regular connections via IST, ZRH, FRA and MUC is for sure much better option for potential passengers.

      And yes, PRN has less potential than INI, and it is political route.

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    7. Passengers will fly with the cheapest option and for sure JU would target these passengers to the US. Same as what they have done with Albania who also have options to transfer onto Austrian and other carriers. At times there are more people flying to/from Tirana on the Belgrade-New York flights then there are Serbians.

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    8. Anon 10:39,

      Pristina has larger population than Nis and - more important - much more diaspora in the US. So in terms of feeding the JFK route PRN is far more important than INI.

      When it comes to other routes, it is relatively easy for passengers from INI catchment area to reach BEG and board any JU flight. But the passengers from PRN catchment area would find it rather difficult for many reasons (border control, bad roads, etc.) which is why a connecting flight is necessary.

      I do agree that JU should have a daily flight to INI but it doesn't mean INI's potential is larger than that of PRN.

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    9. Nis to Belgrade is 240km highway, aprox. 2h. Going to an airport, check-in time, flight, airport to destination = more that two hours. And + more expensive. Why would you ask for a flight like this?!

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  4. A foreign airline operating these flights is a reasonable idea for the beginning. I think it would happen much quicker that way. Air Berlin or Etihad Regional would be the best option. They are part of the Etihad group and both fly/have flown to PRN.

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  5. 'airspace which border each other'

    There is no border between Serbia and Kosovo, there are administrative crossings and then there is a demarcation line.

    These flights will not happen because political support for the resumption of talks is dwindling. Serbia is assuming the position of power and it sees little interest in giving in to the demands of Pristina.

    Resumption of flights is nothing more than wet dreams of the Brussels bureaucratic elite.

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    Replies
    1. You completely missed the point. There is no demarcation lines or administrative crossings in airspace. Secondly, Serbia is pushing for flights. They even formed a task group for these flights to happen and Air Serbia has come out to say how these flights are important to them. Read the text next time.

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    2. Serbia is pushing for flights just because it's one of the points put forward by Brussels.
      We have elections in April and given how unpopular talks with Pristina have been so far, I don't see it happening.

      So forget about BEG-PRN, it won't happen any time soon.

      Even if we put politics aside, JU doesn't have the a/c to operate these flights.

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    3. They have already designated a B737 for these flights and have a draft timetable. And 90% of people in Serbia don't even care about the talks in Brussels. Economic issues such as employment and income have long overtaken their interest. The government doesn't even say what is negotiated or what is happening.

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    4. No one said that talks with PRN are on top of the agenda but to say that they don't matter is a pretty silly thing to do. According to the latest survey 47% of Serbs support EU membership while if they had to chose between Kosovo and the EU, only 20% would go for the EU.

      I think they do care about these negotiations.

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    5. Also, let add that the B733 was assigned in 2013, so some 3.5 years ago. Since I suppose you work for JU then you will know that 2 B733 are scheduled to leave the fleet either this or next year.

      So B733 will no longer be an option.

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    6. YU-AND is leaving for sure, there might still be hope for YU-ANK and YU-ANI. But with charters and some regular flights it will be difficult to add new destinations, especially in summer.

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    7. What's with YU-ANJ?

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    8. YU-ANJ has more hours left because it was kept hostage by the Turks. It's also in good condition because JAT was paying every month for the plane to be kept in an operational state. It cost the airline millions.

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    9. Thanks. So it's still flying? Sorry I ask as I no longer know how many B737s are operational and being used.

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    10. There are four B733 that are jumping in when needed. In summer they are doing charters and an occasional scheduled flight when there is need. These are:

      1. YU-AND
      2. YU-ANI
      3. YU-ANK
      4. YU-ANJ

      Last year we considered bringing one or two old B733 that still had some hours left but the plan was, thankfully, dropped. These were YU-ANL and YU-ANF.

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    11. but, it's not the aircrafts that are problematic. its how much engines have left in them before next maintenance

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    12. That's why we say: koliko sati mu je ostalo. :)

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    13. thanks man! just one more question for my education purposes. when aircraft is grounded (aog). like in the case with the turks, what maintenance is there to be done? as i understood it is mostly connected to the cycles, with exception of regular 6y / 12y checks, which again i don't see why were needed if it was AOG?
      also on which account the turks held it hostage?

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    14. What about B733 YU-ANV. In the beginning it was told that this aircraft was conserved and it is planed to enter service if it is needed. Also I still can not understand why ASL do not bring seats from ANW, ANL or ANV to ANK and ANI, because those seats are in better conditions than this, who are lousy.

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    15. May I ask why YU-ANW was not planned last year to be brought in service? It is younger than YU-ANF.
      No hours left in engines?

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    16. Overall state of the aircraft, from the engines to the fuselage, landing gear... it boiled down to which aircraft will cost JU the least to be brought back. These aircraft were never supposed to stay for longer than a year or two, it wasn't a long-term investment. Unfortunately seems that JU gave up on this without a proper alternative plan.

      Anon 10.20

      JAT Tehnika mechanics were going regularly to IST and they were checking the tired, engines, the hydraulic system... they were even driving the aircraft around the airport. As you can imagine, all of this cost a lot of money.
      From what I remember the Turks grounded YU-ANJ because of the war and because they protested the killing of Muslims in Bosnia.

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    17. *tires, not tired.

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  6. During the 90s even as the situation was getting worse and worse JU had packed flights from Pristina onward to Zurich.

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  7. Did JAT fly direct flights from Pristina to other cities outside of Yugoslavia?

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    Replies
    1. In 1996 I remember JAT B733 DUS-PRN-DUS

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    2. I remember a JAT commercial in the 90s advertising some 5 cities from Pristina.

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    3. ZRH-PRN were packed

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  8. Good. Move on and leave the past behind. Business is business.

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  9. some pros & obstacles, as i see them:

    +this route should be profitable. 14pw flights with atr would results in some ~45,000 pax potential (~85%LF). so if they could cancel some non-performing route it would yield even even better results
    +easing the tension between the countries and finally looking for the profit and not nationalism
    +citizens of kosovo would benefit on account of better connectivity


    but the obstacles are all political, just to name some:
    - this would be just one step closer to recognizing kosovo's independence and i don't know if vučić and the gang will be able to allow this to themselves
    - official PRN name is adem jašari
    - this would actually mean serbian and kosovo civil aviation authorities will have to talk and work out all of the potential issues and that could take sooo much time.

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    Replies
    1. Good points. I still think the flights will launch sooner or later. The economic benefit will outweigh politics.

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  10. It's interesting that SMATSA has said it will apply for a tender to control Kosovo's air space from next year.

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    Replies
    1. They applied last time as well when the Hungarians got it.

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    2. Something tells me they won't get it this time either.

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  11. If they start these flights, they will be the only one flying to all of the ten largest ex-Yu airports :)

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  12. I do hope the flights resume. If flights could resume to Zagreb, Sarajevo I don't see why not to PRN.

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  13. I could see this flight working on a daily basis. Out of interest what would the optimal scheduling be for transfer passangers?

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    Replies
    1. I don't think this will ever happen to transfer Kosovo passengers to Belgrade and then JFK never!
      Forget about it, don't waste your time with dreams of serbian politics.

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    2. Speak for yourself. You may never board a JU flight but many others would and you are not their spokesperson.

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  14. https://www.airserbia.com/sr-RS/obavestenja/er-srbija-obustavlja-letove-iz-beograda-za-istanbul

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    Replies
    1. Ocekivano, zdrav razum i nista vise

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    2. Razumem da je vec neko vreme lose popunjena putnicka kabina za Istanbul.
      Ali da li zbog toga treba ukinuti let ka jednom od najprometnijih svetskih aerodroma??
      Kada budu zeleli da se vrate na Ataturk,nece moci.
      Kako Turkish uspeva da popuni sve linije za balkanske i centralnoazijske zabiti,to mi nije jasno???

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    3. Pathetic really.

      That said, Serbia and Turkey should fully liberalize the market. In the end, the diplomatic spat between the two countries was for nothing.

      Let Pegaus and Turkish Airlines make the most of the market since Air Serbia couldn't.

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    4. Was it too hard to reschedule this as a night flight?

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    5. Apparently there will be a very good codeshare agreement with AtlasGlobal so I really don't see a problem.

      Nemjee, you may wish to take into account that it's very difficult for small carriers to survive on the IST route - TK kills them sooner or later. Add the tourism decline and there you go. Many carriers have decided to serve IST by codesharing rather then sending a plane there.

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    6. Serbian authorities should cancel TK license in BEG, or better yet, offer them impossible times in the day under some stupid excuse.

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    7. So will AtlasGlobal fly to Belgrade or what?

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    8. I would use the same excuse IST used to deny to ASL the slots they applied for. Verbatim. It is the language Turks understood well the last time.

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    9. Anon 13.27

      I understand that serving the Turkish market is not easy but there are ways of making it work. Air Serbia failed because it wasn't convenient either for locals or for transfer passengers. They didn't even offer connections between Istanbul, London and Paris.

      Night flights would have made more sense and they should have worked harder on attracting Turkish diaspora living in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

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    10. @1:14 Turkish puni letove sa transfernim putnicima, mada i oni imaju problem zadnjih meseci sa vecernjim letom.
      Nazalost JU i TK ne igraju u istom rangu, TK leti za svako selo i vuce jako veliki broj transfera. Valja napomenuti i damping u Beogradu i trku sa QR, FZ i EY u koju nisu ulazili dok nisu bili primorani na to.
      JU je ovu odluku doneo iskljucivo zbog manjka aviona, da se ne bi uzimao avion pre dolaska a320neo.
      Ocekujte uskoro potvrdu IKA

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    11. Vec je stigao odgovor iz Beograda.

      http://www.aviatica.rs/turkish-airlines-nije-dobio-dozvolu-za-carter-letove-antalije/

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    12. Nemjee,

      Your arguments are valid but we have to look at this from the 'what now' perspective. The given state was:
      - nonattractive timetable
      - severe decline of p2p demand (there is still a lot of demand on the Turkish side - people want to visit Belgrade but they often buy agency packages with flights included and JU didn't have a single deal with local tour operators)
      - lack of marketing
      - lack of connections from BEG

      With all of the above in the equation, I would also choose to retreat to codeshare with a Turkish carrier rather than fixing all those flaws while at the same time facing a desperate shortage of aircraft for the summer.

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    13. This is not so stupid after all. AtlasGlobal is the best Turkish airline by far and their network covers exactly the entire region untapped by Air Serbia (Caucasus, Middle East). They're the 'least Turkish' of the three Turkish carriers. Their daily A321 will put a lots of pressure on TK and PC in Belgrade.

      https://www.atlasglb.com/images/online/Atlasglobal_Map.png

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    14. @ Anonymous 13:48

      Odgovor na sta??Pa niko nije isterao JU iz Istanbula, sami su otisli,yato sto su nezadovoljni prometom na liniji.

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    15. lx

      But you see, why not switch afternoon flights to night ones? That's what they are doing with OTP. Bucharest will have 'only' three afternoon flights while all others will be departing at 00.30.

      Also, JFK is one of two destinations where TK could send its A380 without any feed, the other being BKK. I think it's a missed opportunity that IST flights never connected to the JFK ones.

      I think it's strange that both RO and LO are surviving in IST while JU can't. Not to mention that BEG's geographical location is far more convenient than WAW's.

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    16. Aviatica said we can expect further cuts. Anybody have more info

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    17. They also said last year that flights between BEG and JFK won't be launched.

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    18. Nemjee,

      Again I agree but the timetable was only one of the issues with JU's flight to IST.

      After all, if there is a CS with AtlasGlobal and their slots allow connection with JU500, wouldn't that be a change for the better?

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    19. Anon. 14.08.
      JU waited patiently for better slots, that would fit into their waves. After so many years, they decided to play nasty too. TK blocks better slots in IST - no charters for them in BEG.

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    20. LX

      I agree but I think it's a shame JU won't be flying with its own metal to IST.

      Anon 14.23

      Actually, JU got the slots it wanted when it moved from SAW to IST. Now, if they realized it was not what they wanted and they asked for new ones then that becomes a completely different story.

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    21. Atlasjet Airlines schedule:

      ---456- IST-BEG 10.25-11.15
      ---456- BEG-IST 13.05-15.50

      123---7 IST-BEG 16.40-17.30
      123---7 BEG-IST 18.15-21.00

      Flights start on 15th March.

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    22. The real question remains, what will JU do with the extra A319? I see them using it for a charter flight. Best solution, it's good cash.

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    23. for the first time i dont understand the hate on JU here

      LH (from MUC), OS, JP , AZ ... all stopped flying to IST. TK has a superior product here lets be realistic, JU and others cannot compete with.

      Where is AirSerbia gonna send their planes now? (how many weekly frequencies are free now?)

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    24. It is not superior product, but a massive state support and machinations. Plus giant dumping price policy. EU (and Serbia) should change the rules of the game until Turkey begins to plays fair.

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    25. Superior product? I flew once with them and have never seen less profesionalism - nightmare!

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    26. TK is not engaged in dumping, at least not in Serbia. They are never the cheapest option, QR and EY always are.

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    27. get over it. TK's economy class is the best in Europe (and i HATE Erdogan more then you both together, believe me)

      we are talking here iskljucivo about the in-the-air product(not about price policies or state support which 95% of the pax dont really care)

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    28. Well, I just say that EU, with its deeper pockets, use the Turkish medicine on Turks specifically (state support and slot games). I think that TK would change its attitude in a matter of weeks, if not days.

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    29. Anon 4:21,

      You need to take into account that TK is the second most hated airline on this blog - right after JU.

      They have a different hater brigade than JU but the strength of their 'arguments' is pretty much the same. They hate Turkey, they hate TK, they hate IST and that's it.

      Either way I think the main reason so many airlines sooner or later give up serving IST is that TK simply overwhelms them with frequencies and connections (product is not that important, though it does bear certain weight). TK's network is simply too big and offer so many options to connecting passengers. As a results, they get better loads on the IST (feeding) route and after a while their competitors conclude it's not worth fighting them.

      Yes they received a lot of state aid to get where they are today - just as LH, AF and other European giants did. The difference is, TK now does not give moral lectures to other airlines and does not bribe the European Commission to tailor the regulation so that it suits them and harms all airlines that have less than 150 aircraft in their fleet.

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    30. The leader of TK haters is dk himself. Trust me, that's a "first hand" info.

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    31. TK expansion means, sooner or later, the destruction of all legacies between FRA-MUC and IST. Both JU and OU need to push back hard against TK to survive.
      I believe that the prime target of eventual LH-EY synergy is TK. It eats into the markets of both LH and EY. They may try to use the present awkward international position of Turkey to push against TK.

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    32. Nemjee - be careful who and what you label pathetic .... Look at your self first and the reasons why you are no longer working where you were... Maybe then you can call others pathetic

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    33. At least some in-here have the sense of national identity.

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    34. Hahaha maybe we can ask hundreds of other people why they no longer work there where they worked. ;)

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  15. Is there any Albanian here who actually would fly with Air Serbia via BEG from Pristina?

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    Replies
    1. Many of them fly with Air Serbia via BEG from Tirana so I would say the answer to your question is Yes.

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    2. I don't think so, this won't happen to fly from PRN with Air Serbia via BEG to JFK or anywhere around the world never :(

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    3. 85% give a shit if serbian or albanian aircraft. They need a good deal thats it.

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    4. Traveling with Air Serbia when you're from Tirana is not quite the same as when you're from Pristina.

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    5. People from Kosovo travel to Europe by bus via Serbia and have no problem with it. I know some of you guys prefer and wish that everyone in the Balkans isolate themselves from their neighbours but it's simply not going to happen.

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    6. Well the airplanes from SJJ and ZAG to BEG fly empty for years, right?

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    7. Anyone know lf for TIA-BEG?

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  16. I believe the flight betwen BEG and PRN is possible and will happen surely, it is just the matter of time.
    Air Serbia targeted this market long time ago and now when they opened BEG-JFK they surely want to fill that A330 with as many as possible passengers no matter if they come from PRN, TIA or TGD.
    As it has been once mentioned they particularly planned to send B733 there as it does not have "Air Serbia" title on itself but neutral "Aviolet".
    I believe JU even started some time ago to look for crew speaking Albanian language.
    It is surely not political route, but it is related to politics as JU was blocked to start flying BEG-PRN due to political reasons. As mentioned on the beginning of this post I believe this route will be opened but at the same time I would not be surprised authorities in Pristina start blackmailing Serbian side knowing this route is important for JU.
    I wonder if that flight from BEG airport would be treated as international flight and whether passengers would have to go through passport control?

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    1. Why would they not send Air Serbia airplane? Kosovo does not deny the statehood to Serbia. It is the other way round.

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    2. At that time it was estimation of JU management that better loads would be with Aviolet title

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  17. &Anon. 14.08.
    JU waited patiently for better slots, that would fit into their waves. After so many years, they decided to play nasty too. TK blocks better slots in IST - no charters for them in BEG.

    Serbian CAD denied TK request for charters two weeks ago.

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  18. Nebojsa, you mean in the same way that Serbia bans aircraft that fly from or to PRN from using the Serbian airspace for political reasons, right?

    Kosovan authorities are not after blocking anything, they're simply seeking reciprocity when it comes to civilian air traffic. Let's normalise relations, JU (or other Serbian carriers) can fly as much as they want to PRN, but must open the air corridors and establish relations between the two CAAs. Otherwise, it seems a bit one sided, does it not? And while we're at it, JU can use the same air corridors when flying to SKP, TIA, or CFU if it wants to.

    To those asking if Kosovars would fly with JU, I believe most would have no issue whatsoever if they're treated well. Most don't care whether it's Air Serbia, Aviolet, or Adria but by and large Kosovars don't seem to like turboprops. FYI, MAT Macedonian Airlines used to fly to PRN during the civil war in Macedonia. Btw, apart from the US east coast, there is some demand for flights to SJJ, ZAG (poor connectivity lately), LJU, and western Europe. Also, a large number of passengers flying to PRN are not Kosovars but North Americans or Europeans.

    Finally, PRN recorded a small pax growth during January 2017: ~123,000. This represents the busiest January for PRN.

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    Replies
    1. Truth be told, PRN needs JU more than JU needs PRN. It's not Belgrade that should give in to the demands of Pristina, especially not as long as the airport carriers that name.

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    2. Truth be told, PRN seems to be doing OK without JU.

      Would PRN welcome JU? Yes, absolutely. But the Kosovars are not stupid.

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    3. Good for them, maybe they can use all that intelligence to build an economy down there.

      I would rather see JU expand in the Middle East than to launch flights to PRN.

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    4. omg! @ 2:58
      first of all welcome to Visit Kosovo.
      second, could we do this without unnecessary emotions?

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    5. @Anonymous 2:58 PM
      "I would rather see JU expand in the Middle East than to launch flights to PRN."

      Tell that to JU, not me.

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    6. I already informed them and now I am doing it to you as well.

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    7. Anon 2:58,

      Visit Kosovo is not a newcomer to this blog. It's just that today's topic hurts his patriotic feelings so he felt like proving to the rest of us what a proud nationalist he is. Tomorrow the topic will change and he will go back to normal.

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    8. Pardon, Anon 3:13 not 2:58.

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    9. Visit Kosovo does not read as a nationalistic to me. It is a reasonable viewpoint, open to discussion.
      On the other hand, anon. 14.37, 14.58 and 15.36 is dismissive, kind of contemptuous. He sounds like Croatian nationalists who swear never to set foot in anything that has "Serbia" in their name.
      I say that as a fellow Serbian.
      My opinion is that, even though I understand the Visit Kosovo arguments, opening airspace is too high price to pay for JU PRN flights. If these are the conditions, I don't see these flights happening any time soon.

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    10. BEG-PRN flight might be an exception and go direct, not via Macedonia. Serbia could pretend that the flights are domestic, Pristina that they are international. The controls could be the same to the controls that exist on the boundary now. That is a reasonable solution I believe.

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    11. Visit Kosovo,
      No, that was not what I thought of. Reciprocity is something different. Reciprocity would mean that any airline based in PRN would have right to fly to BEG (using the same route as JU) and I believe nobody from Belgrade would have problem with it.
      "Normalizing" our relations is something many people would like but the ways how to get there are obviously very different.
      Congratulations for pax grow in January.

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    12. Nebojsa, so you're saying that aircraft that fly from or to PRN are banned from using the Serbian airspace for non-political reasons? Hmmm, OK.

      Let's agree to civilly disagree today then about (non-)political reasons and reciprocity.

      Delete
  19. Svako bi to doprinelo ASL i Aerodromu BEG sa dosta Transfernih putnika .
    Naravno ima jos nekoliko destinacija koji bi takodje donele jos vise transfernih putnika.
    INN-NS

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  20. Who controls the airspace of Kosovo? Is it Serbian Air Force, or the NATO? May be a stupid question, but I really don't know.

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    Replies
    1. Hungarians do.

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    2. I honestly thought you were messing with me, so I went and checked and you're right. Unbelievable. That and the fact that planes taking off from Kosovo can't use Serbian airspace...it's like a bad joke. Sad. Sad and pathetic. :/

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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