EX-YU airports move to secure China flights
Montenegro has become the latest country in the former Yugoslavia to seek flights from China, following in the footsteps of Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. Danilo Orlandić, the General Manager of operator Airports of Montenegro, which runs the country’s two international airports, said, “Together with our strategic partners we are looking at significantly boosting the number of guests from China, especially outside of the summer season, which could bring us a large number of tourists”. Currently, travellers arriving on Hainan Airlines’ service to Belgrade continue their journey onto Montenegro following several days in Serbia. On the other hand, Macedonia and China are preparing to sign a bilateral Air Service Agreement after the two sides met for talks in Skopje recently. They are seeking to establish the legal framework for the launch of scheduled flights, promote cooperation between aviation authorities, as well as promote technical and educational support. The two agreed that the establishment of flights would help boost tourism and people-to-people exchange.
Croatia’s busiest airport has confirmed it is seeking to secure services from China in the near future. “We anticipate to finalise talks over the arrival of a Chinese carrier because Croatia is becoming of growing interest to Chinese tourists. There is also an increasing number of Chinese investments in Croatia and we believe that we will be able to find a common ground for the introduction of flights from a Chinese city”, Zagreb Airport’s General Manager, Jacques Feron, said. Initially, Beijing Capital Airlines was to introduce flights between Beijing and Zagreb last summer. The carrier filed for a permit for a two weekly service with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, however, the planned operations were later cancelled. In 2015, Zadar Airport held talks with Hainan Airlines over the potential introduction of flights from Chongqing, in China’s south-west, which would have continued on to Rome, but the plans never materialised.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is seeking to establish flights with China via Belgrade after the two countries abolished visa requirements for each others’ nationals late last month. The Minister for Communications and Transport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ismir Jusko, has said a Beijing – Belgrade – Sarajevo service is likely following talks with the Chinese Ambassador to Bosnia, Chen Bo. Mr Jusko noted that the two are expected to sign a bilateral air agreement which would provide the legal framework for the establishment of flights. Ambassador Bo emphasised the tourism potential of Bosnia and noted that the number of visitors from China to the country increased between 130% and 140% in 2017 compared to the year before.
Slovenia has also moved towards securing flights to China. The Slovenian Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, noted, “We are especially interested in improving land, sea and air connectivity with China. We expect that direct flights between China’s north-western city of Xi’an and our capital city Ljubljana will be established soon”. Xi’an Airport is run by operator Fraport, which also manages Ljubljana Airport. “Even though Slovenia is a small country, it is the best place for travellers from Asia to start their journey and continue to our neighbouring countries”, the General Manager of Ljubljana Airport, Zmago Skobir, said recently.
Serbia is currently the only country in the former Yugoslavia served by a Chinese carrier, with Hainan Airlines maintaining two weekly flights from Beijing to Belgrade via Prague. The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, has said that services from Belgrade to a second destination in China will be announced later this year. The Chinese Ambassador to Serbia, Li Manchang, confirmed that talks are underway for the introduction of flights between Shanghai and Belgrade.
Source: EX-YU Aviation News