LONDON – Air Serbia has received a couple of bomb threats over the course of the last few weeks on its Belgrade-Moscow services.
One Mile At A Time has logged these incidents, which has amounted to around four incidents in the last nine to ten days.
Such threats have probably come in the wake of the airline refusing to suspend such services, amid mounting pressure on Belgrade to do in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
The Incidents Itself…
The first incident occurred on March 11 where around 30 minutes after departure from Belgrade, the aircraft was forced to turn around and head back.
Upon arrival, JU652 was searched for such credibility of the threat and departed again to Moscow around seven hours later, offering significant disruption to passengers.
On March 14, this happened again, but then turn back to the capital happened over the Hungarian-Slovakian border, with One Mile At A Time mentioning it operated a “90+ minute flight to nowhere”.
The aircraft was searched once again and the flight had a six-hour delay upon departure back to Moscow.
Another incident occurred the next day, with the bomb threat being reported before the aircraft departed from Belgrade, with that flight suffering a three-hour delay.
The final one happened on March 17, when the flight had another delay similar to that on March 15.
Whilst there have been no negative results from these threats, there is nothing to stop the threat from becoming a credible element and harming people.
Air Serbia has held off on increasing flights to the Russian capital, which they were planning on doing due to the increased demand for Russian citizens and others heading back to the country.
The Belgrade-Moscow route continues to be the only way to get back into the country, but holding off on the increased flight capacity is being deemed as not enough.
Leaders across the European Union have called for these flight suspensions and to fall in line with Western sanctions, which Belgrade doesn’t seem too keen on at present.
It may very well be the point that Belgrade’s stubbornness may result in a credible threat and could cause the downing of an aircraft in the worst-case scenario.
This is why such criticism is taking place as if the threats intensify, it is going to take the worst-case situation to push Belgrade in a different direction.
Looking ahead, Air Serbia will have to approach these flights with absolute caution. If they are not going to ax these flights, the least they can do is increase security checks for those heading to the Russian capital.
At this stage, it appears that the airline, nor the Serbian government, is willing to ax these services, and are wanting to reap the financial benefit to these flights.
Taking advantage of a desperate situation like this always has the chance of backfiring in their faces, whether it be from the PR perspective or in the human perspective too.
It will be interesting to see how Belgrade reacts over the next couple of weeks, and whether they will eventually press on with the flight capacity increases to Moscow.