New navigation equipment for civilian airlines set up at Pristina airport, with NATO support
On 14 September 2021, the Commander of the NATO-led KFOR mission, Major General Franco Federici, attended a ceremony to mark the installation of new navigation equipment at Pristina airport. These are important steps, which will make the circulation of people and goods easier and faster within the region. They will also contribute to the use of new south-west air routes in the lower airspace over Kosovo, which have been created through the NATO-led Balkans Aviation Normalisation Meetings process.
“NATO’s role in this regard represents an important contribution to regional security, regional stability, and for economic development,” Major General Federici said.
NATO has been supporting the process of normalizing the use of the airspace over Kosovo since 1999, by leading the Balkans Aviation Normalization Meetings. These meetings are regularly attended by representatives of Allied countries, air navigation authorities, national military authorities and relevant international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and EUROCONTROL amongst others.
In 2014, the upper airspace over Kosovo was reopened. This was made possible by the contributions provided by Hungary and the role performed by its Air Navigation Service Provider (HUNGAROCONTROL), which undertook the responsibility to control flights above 21.000 feet. In recent years, NATO has through the Balkans Aviation Normalization Meetings facilitated the formalization of a Framework Agreement between KFOR and Iceland. Iceland ’s Transport Safety Authority (ICETRA) is now acting as a Safety Oversight Function in support to the KFOR Commander, who retains primary authority for the use of the lower airspace over Kosovo, as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999. ICETRA performs the scrutiny of all the technical solutions that allow for the establishment of new direct routes, in the lower airspace, between Pristina and other cities.
Through the Icelandic Transport Safety Authority’s contribution, technical agreements have also been signed between the Albanian Air Navigation Service Provider (Albcontrol) and the Air Navigation Service Provider in Pristina (ASHNA), for the establishment of the new direct routes to Pristina through Albania. This allows for shorter routes for airlines coming from the north, with benefits of time and fuel savings and lower air pollution.