Fifteen years after the Kosovo crisis, NATO has allowed civilian air traffic overflights through the republic’s upper airspace (Flight Level 205 to Flight Level 660) with the opening up of five direct routes.
The re-opening of the airspace follows an offer from the government of Hungary for its air navigation service provider (ANSP), HungaroControl, to act as a technical enabler for the provision of air navigation services to civilian overflights. The offer was accepted by the North Atlantic Council, although the airspace will ultimately remain under NATO/KFOR authority.
Because commercial flights will no longer have to detour around Kosovo’s upper airspace, the opening up of the five direct routes is expected to result in 180,000 flights a year, flying 370,000 fewer nautical miles. This means an operating cost savings of €18 million ($25 million), with approximately 24,000 tons less fuel burned and CO2 emissions reduced by 75,000 tons.
The project was undertaken within the framework of the NATO-led Balkans Aviation Normalization Meeting (BANM), with the support of the Hungarian government, Eurocontrol, and HungaroControl, as well as neighboring states and their ANSPs, among other partners.