An Air Mediterranean Boeing 737 was diverted on Tuesday while en route from Athens to Pristina in Kosovo. Ex-Yu Aviation News reports that the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority issued Air Mediterranean a permit and then revoked it the same day, causing the flight to divert to Thessaloniki. Let’s take a look at exactly what happened.
Why is Air Mediterranean in Kosovo?
Pristina Airport in Kosovo has historically had a strong charter presence. Airlines in Kosovo have agreements with tour operators who then typically have exclusive rights to sell flight tickets.
One of the notable exceptions to this is Eurowings, which has a base in Pristina and chooses to sells its own tickets.
Air Mediterranean was supposed to launch flights from Kosovo to the cities of Basel, Munich, Stuttgart, Sharm el Sheikh, Malmo, Friedrichshafen, Paderborn and Lyon. No tickets can be purchased for these flights without going through the channels of local tour operators, Simple Flying has discovered.
The Air Mediterranean Boeing 737-400 was just about to enter Kosovo airspace when it was denied landing rights. It was over the airspace of North Macedonia at the time, as is visible from its flight path below.
The aircraft carries the registration SX-MAM and is a Boeing 737-446. According to airfleets.net it is almost 30 years old. Air Mediterranean leased the aircraft to Norwegian last summer to help with its 737 MAX shortage.
The Boeing 737-400 spent almost two hours in the air before diverting to Thessaloniki, Greece. It landed there at 14:45 on Tuesday, 11 February.
The Kosovo Aviation Authority provided no reason for its decision to revoke the permit it issued to Air Mediterranean on that very same day.
The Air Mediterranean aircraft eventually departed Thessaloniki the next day, at 05:40. It flew to Munich, presumably carrying the passengers that were meant to fly from Pristina to Munich as part of the agreed tour operator package.
The aircraft returned from Munich, but not to Kosovo. This time it flew to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. Skopje is much closer to Pristina than Thessaloniki is. Presumably, Air Mediterranean will be transporting passengers by bus from Pristina to Skopje, from where it can operate flights.
Air Mediterranean made known its intention to complain to European aviation authorities if the permit is not re-instated. Kosovo is signatory to European Common Aviation Area Agreement, under which Air Mediterranean has the right to fly from Pristina.
This development comes just weeks after Kosovo and Serbia reached a historic agreement to re-establish flights between Belgrade and Pristina. This agreement was a sign of Kosovo’s significant progress in aviation, so the news of Air Mediterranean’s permit being issued and revoked the same day comes as a setback.
Simple Flying has contacted Air Mediterranean for a comment, and we will be updating the article when we receive it.