Earlier today at the US Embassy in Berlin, representatives of Serbia, Kosovo, the US and Lufthansa Group signed a historic agreement to establish an air link between Serbia and Kosovo. For the first time after 1998 when Serbia and Kosovo went to war, there will be flights between Belgrade and Pristina, and they will be launched by Eurowings. Why is this deal historic, and why will Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings be the first airline to make use of it?
Ever since Serbia and Kosovo went to war in 1998, they have been in hostile relations. Serbia considers Kosovo an autonomous province, even though Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
With the outbreak of war between them in 1998, all air links between Serbia and Kosovo stopped. What used to be a 25-minute flight up until 1997 is now a five-hour car journey.
22 years later, with the help of US diplomats and Lufthansa Group, the air link between Pristina and Belgrade looks set to return, as reported by Associated Press.
President @realdonaldtrump once again led us to an historic victory. Kosovo and Serbia today signed an agreement to create the first direct flight between Pristina & Belgrade in 21 years. Thank you @lufthansa, @NATO, @robertcobrien and the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia. pic.twitter.com/mu52kM7smm
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 20, 2020
Who signed the agreement?
The historic agreement was signed by Milun Trivunac, state secretary of Serbia’s Ministry of Economy, and Eset Berisha, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo.
Also present, as seen in the Tweet above, was US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who is also President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo.
Finally, the chief operating officer of Eurowings Michael Knitter was also there. Upon signing the agreement, he said Eurowings will launch flights between Pristina and Belgrade “as soon as further regulatory hurdles have been removed by both countries”.
U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien hailed this as a “historic deal”, explaining that commercial air links are the “lifeblood of a modern economy”.
As Simple Flying reported at the time, Eurowings opened a base in Kosovo in June 2019. This was only the second Eurowings base outside Germany and Austria, the first being Palma de Mallorca.
For a market as small as Kosovo, with only one airport in Pristina and tense political relations with its neighbor country Serbia, this was a curious move.
Meanwhile, Eurowings is notably absent in Serbia. It presently doesn’t serve any of the country’s three airports, though it will launch a single seasonal route between Belgrade and Stuttgart in May. This means that it intends to serve Belgrade Airport merely as a destination point from its base in Kosovo.
Could Eurowings begin offering flight connections between Serbia and Europe through Kosovo? It presently serves eight destinations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland out of Pristina International Airport in Kosovo, and Belgrade will become the ninth.
Why do you think Eurowings is the airline that will be launching the first flight between Kosovo and Serbia after 21 years? Let us know in the comments below.