Why won't Air Serbia fly to Pristina - letter of intent was instead signed with a foreign company?
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic explained that Serbia requested that the new air route, Belgrade-Pristina, wouldn't be flown by Air Serbia - but by some other airline, and that the flights should take place under KFOR mediation.
By signing a letter of intent with Lufthansa, that is, a branch of that company, Eurowings, the first symbolic step towards re-establishing of air traffic between Belgrade and Pristina has been made.
While local and international officials welcome the move, some people claim that it informally acknowledges the independence of so-called Kosovo due to the fact that the agreement was not signed with the carrier Air Serbia.
So - why Lufthansa or Eurowings, and why any international company, rather than Air Serbia?
"It is not convenient for Air Serbia to fly for many reasons. Air Serbia would have to sign agreements with their aviation authorities, authorities and the airport. At that point, it was much easier to do this through Lufthansa and we asked KFOR to be the mediator," Vucic told RTS.
According to him, experts agree - who said that Air Serbia would not be able to operate this flight, because that would require signing some documents, which would then officially recognize so-called Kosovo as independent.
The editor-in-chief of the Tango Six aviation portal and aviation analyst, Petar Vojinovic, explained that this is still only a letter of intent, and above all a very welcome political step towards bringing Belgrade and Pristina closer in the most practical sense possible.
Procedurally, he says, Serbia has yet to reach agreements with KFOR, which is responsible for airspace control over Kosovo, that would technically implement the route.
However, there are some interesting business benefits if Eurowings and Air Serbia were to agree to cooperate.
"Eurowings could tune its Belgrade-Pristina line with Air Serbia's routes and thus get better connectivity, higher frequencies and bigger cities as destinations, since they only have three low-cost companies that are now flying to Pristina. Although Air Serbia was certainly not involved in this story, it should yet negotiate with Eurowings. After so many years of pause, whoever gets activated will profit," concluded Vojinovic, pointing out that the direct line itself is not that profitable, but that in the context of connections, there may be some future there.
Serbian Chamber of Commerce: A major step towards greater exchange and free movement of people
Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Marko Cadez said in Brussels that this agreement on establishing a direct flight was a big step, first of all, towards greater exchange, i.e. free movement of people, and especially businessmen for whom it is important to communicate and make deals with one another.
"We hope that this will open a dialogue on some other issues that are still open, such as the issue of (Pristina's) taxes, which hinder the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina today and are crucial for our region," he said and recalled that business communities five years ago, when the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce began good cooperation, recommended a renewal of these flights.
Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic said it would be good if there were flights between Belgrade and Pristina and that administrative and technical conditions are being created to enable this.
"As we have bus lines between Belgrade and Pristina, we believe that such a line can only bring good and we are ready to work to create administrative and technical conditions for it," said Mihajlovic, the ministry announced.
Positive reactions from world officials
US President Donald Trump called the establishment of this airline a win.
Everyone said it couldn’t be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to @WHNSC Ambassador Robert O’Brien and Ambassador @RichardGrenell! pic.twitter.com/0qSLryG96B
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2020
"Everyone said it couldn't be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to @WHNSC Ambassador Robert O’Brien and Ambassador @RichardGrenell," tweeted Trump.
US president's sSpecial eEnvoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell said on the occasion that President Donald Trump "once again led us to a historic victory."
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