Air Serbia (JU, Belgrade) has applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP) and route exemption as it once more attempts to enter the North American market.

In its application to operate scheduled and charter, passenger and cargo flights between Serbia and the United States via any intermediate points, the Serbian national carrier said it would initially codeshare on fellow Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) equity partner Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) flights between Germany and the US before operating its own direct services between the two countries.

It is recalled that Airlines For America (A4A), Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson), and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) successfully lobbied the DOT to reject Air Serbia's 2013 application to codeshare on Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi Int'l to Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, and New York JFK. Back then, the DOT agreed that it was "highly unlikely that a rational consumer [routed from Belgrade] would seek out itineraries via Abu Dhabi unless fares were artificially low”.

The extent of Etihad's say in Air Serbia's operations was also called into question given the carrier's 49% stake in the airline.

This time round, however, Air Serbia says it intends to codeshare on Air Berlin's Düsseldorf Int'l-New York JFK route as well as flights from Berlin Tegel to New York JFK, Chicago O'Hare and Miami Int'l. It has also underlined the role the Serbian government and Serb citizens play in determining the airline's course of action in relation to Etihad's shareholding.

Following Serbia's Category 1 rating by the US Federal Aviation Authority in 2014, Air Serbia indicated plans to employ A330 machinery on direct flights to Chicago and New York at some point in early 2016.