The airspace over Kosovo depends on NATO

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Among those who supported the possibility of a renewal and normalization of air traffic between Belgrade and Pristina was NATO, as well as Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. A statement issued on the matter, highlighted that it was an important step, which should enable the circulation of people and economic goods throughout the Western Balkans as quickly and easily as possible. Stoltenberg recalled that, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 1244, NATO has a decisive role in controlling airspace over Kosovo, and added that this will remain in future as well. We would like to remind you that the air space above Kosovo is under the Military-Technical Agreement signed in Kumanovo under the jurisdiction of NATO, KFOR, since 1999. However, this space is divided into the upper layer (from 8,700 meters upwards) and the lower one (up to 8,700 meters high). Six years ago, in 2014, NATO transferred the authority to control the upper layer (above 6,200 meters) to the Hungarian “Hungarokontrol” Flight Control Service, after which it allowed the opening of that part of the airspace for civilian air traffic. By then, civil aviation companies had to bypass the upper layer, which repeatedly increased costs from Pristina Airport. In other news, the Kosovo Minister of Infrastructure, Pal Lekaj, has announced that NATO will leave Kosovo’s airspace control to Pristina authorities up to 7,000 meters this year. Such a decision could be implemented without any problems, since flights from and to Pristina Airport are not operated through Serbia-controlled airspace. In addition, there is still no communication between Pristina flight control and their counterparts at Belgrade Airport. Although the Flight Control of Serbia and Montenegro (“SMATSA”) covers 150,000 square kilometers of airspace over Serbia and Montenegro, but also over major parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and controls more than 550,000 flights per year, it does not have access to airspace above Kosovo. Clearly, the reasons are political. For all this, there is no doubt that the eventual opening of Kosovo’s airspace for traffic and flights between Pristina and Belgrade will depend only on the goodwill of NATO.

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