Charter wars - continued

Sky Airlines awaiting license for Serbia flights
The officials at Serbia’s Jat Airways have responded to local media which have been writing that the national carrier has been restricting access to foreign charter carrier to commence operations to Belgrade and Niš. Radoslav Stanković, the president of YUTA (the Serbian Travel Agents Association) says that Jat has no authority on choosing which airlines are allowed to operate to Serbia and that the national carrier is being blackmailed. On June 1, 2009 Jat’s charter operations license to Turkey and Egypt are expiring and the officials from those countries are announcing that they won’t extend the licenses until their charter carriers are allowed to fly to Serbia. Stanković says that “It is unbelievable that they are asking us to transport thousands of tourists to their countries and that we are being blackmailed at the same time. I can’t understand how the Turkish and Egyptian authorities are deciding whose aircraft will transport us to their countries this summer. This has never been seen before. This means that they want us to send our tourists exclusively via their airlines. No country in the world would agree to this”.

However, Stamenković says that the charter carriers from these countries are not to blame rather that it is “individual interests”. “The Government of Serbia sent a letter earlier this year to travel agents in the country stating that during the summer seasons the same rules will apply as last year, which means that foreign charter carriers will not transport Serbian tourists. Upon this order 97% of travel agencies made an agreement with Jat Airways for summer charters. However, 1 tourist agent made an agreement with foreign carriers, even though this is illegal. This is how the problem began”, explains YUTA’s director. He did not wish to name which tour operator is in question. Serbian passengers do not care with which carrier they will travel to their summer vacation since ticket prices are all included in their holiday packages. Stamenković says that if the government does not care for Jat to make 25 million Euros, like it did last year thanks to charter traffic, then it should clearly announce this.

No matter of the outcome of Jat’s charter operations to Egypt and Turkey this summer, all of Jat’s scheduled services to Istanbul are not affected by this decision as charter licenses are spate from regular licensed flights. In a study conducted during February and March this summer Serbs have chosen Greece as their number one holiday destination followed by Bulgaria, Turkey and Egypt.