Balkan countries isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic is spreading through the Balkan countries, measures are taken to stop the spread of Covid-19. The measures include closing airports or suspending flights to and from the affected countries.

Albania has suspended all flights to and from Italy and Greece; sea and traffic with these countries, plus closed the land borders with North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro.

Kosovo announced it will suspend all commercial flights to and from Prishtina airport until further notice in an attempt to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus Covid-19. The measure will come into effect on March 16 at midnight. It excludes medical evacuation and military flights.

Air Serbia has cancelled almost 300 flights since Monday through May 25 as the airline deals with an unprecedented decline in demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Under the orders of the Serbian government, the carrier has been forced to suspend all of its operations to two key markets – Italy and Switzerland, from which the bulk of the cancellations come from. Other destinations affected by the flight cancellations include Thessaloniki, Prague, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Sofia, Bucharest and Kiev, although more are expected.

Kraljevo’s Morava Airport in Serbia has been closed after the government in Belgrade decided to shut down the airport’s border crossing until further notice.

Ohrid’s St Paul the Apostle Airport, the second North Macedonia’s airport, has been closed following a decision adopted by the Macedonian government in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak. TAV Macedonia has informed all airlines operating there of the decision and has proposed to carriers to divert their flights to Skopje instead.

Montenegro Airlines is suspending a number of flights. Services will be discontinued to Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich until at least April 1. The carrier will continue to operate services from Podgorica to Belgrade and Ljubljana, as well as from Tivat to Belgrade and Moscow. The carrier previously discontinued all flights between the Montenegrin capital and Rome. Nationals from France, Switzerland and Germany are no longer allowed entry into Montenegro, which remains the only country in Europe without a single confirmed case.

Croatia Airlines has suspended international flights from airports in Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka. The decision affects services from Split to Frankfurt and Munich, as well as Rome, which was suspended earlier on. 

The airline has begun cancelling a select number of services out of the Croatian capital. So far, this only includes flights to Vienna on certain dates. The carrier previously suspended flights to the Italian capital until April 3.

German carrier Lufthansa temporarily suspended services between Frankfurt and Zagreb from March 15 until the start of the 2020 summer season on March 29.

Lufthansa, which flies to destination all over the Balkan region, is planning to slash half of its flights and is considering grounding its entire fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos, as the fallout from the coronavirus continues to hit the global air travel industry.

“In recent days, the Lufthansa Group has been exposed to drastic declines in bookings and numerous flight cancellations due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus. All traffic areas are now affected,” the company said. 

Greek carrier Aegean Airlines will discontinue its flights between Athens and Sarajevo. In a letter to Sarajevo Airport’s management, the airline confirmed it would not be resuming the route in 2020. Flights between the two cities were launched last year and were to resume twice per week at the end of May.

Aegean’s services to its other destinations across the former Yugoslavia (Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Podgorica, Skopje, Split and Zagreb) will continue to operate as planned.

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