Kosovo airspace reopens after 15 years

  
Looking for landing rights. Russian airliner, 2014. [Shutterstock]

Kosovo’s airspace reopened yesterday (3 April) for civilian overflights for the first time in 15 years. A boon to Macedonia, not all of the Balkan country's neighbors are pleased.

The airspace above Kosovo was blocked in 1999 for civilian aircrafts above 8700 metres, after the NATO-led airstrikes over Serbia.

The deal on the reopening of Kosovo’s airspace was carefully coordinated by NATO, Eurocontrol, and regional aviation agencies from Hungary, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Austria. The director general of Eurocontrol, Frank Brenner stressed that the airspace opening over the former Serbian province will “save 370 nautical miles yearly, 24.000 tonnes of fuel and 75.000 tonnes of CO2”.

For the neighbouring countries, the open sky above Kosovo is good news as well.

The director of the Macedonian civil aviation agency, Dejan Mojsoski, welcomed the deal, saying that it would attract more airlines and increase competition in the country by up to 50%.

“This will decrease the prices in air transport and in air tickets for the Macedonian passengers to travel in European countries because competition among companies will increase,” he said adding that defragmentation of the regional airspace was of the utmost importance in order to create the shortest and most flexible routes.

But not all neighbours are set to gain as much from this new development, experts say.

Macedonia should see the biggest flyover increase, followed by Bosnia and Slovenia, while countries like Albania, Bulgaria and Romania are expected to see a decline in airspace traffic.

The upper airspace control over Kosovo has been in the hands of the Hungary’s Hungarocontrol, a privately owned firm, since 2011, after the former Serbian province declared independence, which Belgrade does not recognise.

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