BELGRADE (Serbia), October 20 (SeeNews) – Serbia will grant licences to all airlines from the European Union seeking to open routes to any of the Balkan state's airports, local broadcaster b92 reported on Tuesday.
The country's Civil Aviation Directorate (CAD) will issue either temporary or permanent licences to foreign flag carriers, low-cost and charter airlines from the bloc that already hold aviation permits, are duly certified and have a registered fleet, b92 (www.b92.net) reported, quoting CAD director Nebojsa Starcevic.
“We have embraced the idea of maximum liberalisation and our position is that all companies from Europe that meet the basic criteria will be issued permits,” Starcevic said.
Austrian budget carrier FlyNiki will be among the first companies that will be cleared to perform flights to and from Serbia, Starcevic said.
FlyNiki has applied for a temporary licence for the Belgrade-Vienna route, Serbian media reported earlier this month.
“Serbia and Austria have a bilateral agreement allowing only [Serbia’s flag carrier] JAT Airways and Austrian Airlines to perform flights [between the two countries]. On the other hand, Austria and Serbia have signed an Open Skies agreement. We found ourselves in a dead ally. If we issue a licence we would be in breach of the bilateral agreement, and if we don’t we then violate the Open Skies arrangement. However, the scope of bilateral agreements covers only permanent licences, so we found a solution and [Fly]Niki will get a temporary licence,” b92 said, quoting Starcevic.
Serbia is also inclined to apply the Open Skies criteria to airlines worldwide, Starcevic said, adding that the government in Belgrade has just signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allowing JAT and five UAE airlines to open routes in both directions. The agreement will permit the Emirates airline to launch flights to about 100 destinations from Serbia’s capital Belgrade, Serbian daily Blic (www.blic.rs) reported last week.
Italian low-cost airline Wind Jet and its Swedish peer MCA Airlines are slated to launch flights to the town of Nis, in southern Serbia, in December this year, local broadcaster b92 reported earlier this month.
Serbia’s tourism revenue, currently at some $1.0 billion (668.2 million euro) a year, will rise by at least a half when low-cost air carriers start flying in following the liberalisation of the visa regime with the EU expected to take effect next January, the head of Serbia’s national tourism board, Radisav Stankovic, said in August.