Air Serbia could lose its licence to fly to Croatia if it continues to ignore the misdemeanour proceedings conducted against the company by the Croatian Ministry of Transport. According to unofficial information, Croatian government has sent a clear message to the company that the fact that its representatives have not appeared at scheduled hearings clearly shows disrespect for Croatian authorities and that therefore they could lose the license, reports Jutarnji List and Index.hr on January 14, 2016.
In the spring of last year, the Civil Aviation Agency sent to the Ministry of Transport a misdemeanour complaint against the Serbian carrier for breach of the bilateral agreement between Croatia and Serbia on air traffic. Serbia has not yet fulfilled the provisions of the Agreement on the Establishment of European Common Aviation Area, which it has signed with the European Union as an associated country. Therefore, Air Serbia can only fly between Belgrade and individual cities in the EU. However, the company offers to passengers so-called transfer flights, which is against the rules. Passengers can fly via Belgrade to other destinations, and that represents an unfair competition to other airlines. For example, you can fly from Zagreb to Paris through Belgrade at a much lower price compared to other companies.
Sources claim that the Serbian side took advantage of the complicated system for sending summons for the hearings so the whole process has lasted longer than expected. The summonses are delivered through diplomatic channels and the Ministry of Justice, and often arrive too late so lawyers for Air Serbia claim that they have not been properly delivered. Now, Croatian government has decided to put an end to it and to threaten Air Serbia with a ban on landing at Croatian airports. However, any such decision will have to wait for the new government to be confirmed. For now, Air Serbia is flying to Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Pula.
On Wednesday, Air Serbia rejected the allegations. "Air Serbia operates in accordance with all applicable European regulations in the field of civil aviation", said the company. “This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency has approved Air Serbia’s request to carry out flights to and from Croatia according to the announced schedule", added the company in a written statement.
"Before Croatian accession to the EU, Croatia and Serbia were signatories of the Open Skies Agreement. There are no problems regarding the establishment of flights to any point in Croatia, and we hope that Air Serbia will be able to continue existing operations”, said Mirjana Čizmarov, the director of the Serbian Directorate of Civil Aviation.