Three EX-YU states eye inter-connectivity
The governments of Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are finalising plans for the introduction of flights between Sarajevo and Skopje via Podgorica. According to a draft agreement between the states, all airlines, including those outside the three countries, will be invited to operate the service, which would be subsidised. “Talks concerning the establishment of this route are ongoing. This service would contribute to improving connectivity between the three capitals”, the Montenegrin Ambassador to Sarajevo, Velimir Šljivančanin, said earlier this week. Unless the route is operated by Montenegro Airlines, it would involve a carrier being granted seventh freedom rights, which allows for a company to operate international flights between two foreign nations with no onward service to its own country.
The Prime Minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, said recently, “The contents of the agreement between Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina has been settled and will be forwarded to all airlines operating in the region. Carriers will be requested to make their offers”. He added that Bulgaria could also join the regional initiative. The governments of Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina believe the new route will boost trade and tourism, as well as people to people exchange. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s former flag carrier, B&H Airlines, maintained flights between Sarajevo and Skopje on an off-and-on basis for several years. At one point, services operated via Podgorica as well, although the airline had no fifth freedom rights between the Montenegrin capital and Skopje.
The only foreign airline to have maintained services between two former Yugoslav states in recent times was Flydubai, which introduced seasonal flights from Sarajevo to Podgorica last winter. The route was made possible as the United Arab Emirates has an open skies agreement in place with both Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, enabling the designated carrier to operate with full flexibility on routes, capacity, frequency and types of aircraft, in any type of service, including the exercise of fifth freedom rights. These rights gave Flydubai the freedom to carry traffic between two foreign countries on a flight that either originated in or is destined for the United Arab Emirates. Macedonia is also a signatory to the open skies agreement with the UAE. Another potential operator for the service between Sarajevo, Podgorica and Skopje could include Wizz Air, which has a base in the Macedonian capital.
Source: EX-YU Aviation News