On April 3, 2014, the upper airspace (Flight Level 205 to Flight Level 660) over Kosovo was re-opened for civilian traffic overflights some 15 years after the Kosovo crisis. This represents a significant step towards aviation normalisation in the Western Balkans, according to EuroControl.
The re-opening of the airspace is based on a decision by the North Atlantic Council to accept an offer by the Government of Hungary to act as a technical enabler through its air navigation service provider, Hungarocontrol. The airspace will remain under NATO/KFOR authority and Hungarocontrol will act as technical enabler for the provision of air navigation services to the civilian air traffic overflights.
The re-opening of the airspace will lead to shorter flight routes in the region and thus generate savings for airspace users in terms of flight efficiency. It is estimated that around 180,000 flights annually will fly 370,000 less nautical miles, resulting in reduced operating costs of €18 million, approximately 24,000 tonnes less fuel burned and CO2 emissions reduced by 75,000 tonnes, according to EuroControl data.
“This has been a key example of regional cooperation”, according to Ludwig Decamps, chairman of the NATO-led Balkans Aviation Normalisation Meeting (BANM), highlighting the multinational cooperation that has been taking place within the framework of BANM, and the support of the Government of Hungary, EuroControl and HungaroControl. Several other partners, including the neighbouring States and their air navigation service providers were also key to the success of this initiative.
“I was quite impressed with the constructive approach taken by Hungarocontrol, all the neighbouring nations and air navigation service providers who have contributed toward the successful re-opening of the airspace over Kosovo. And it is another sign of the excellent relation that we enjoy with EuroControl, promoted by the very close proximity of our headquarters in Brussels,” he added.