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  • The EIB loan will increase efficiency of air travel and improve safety for tens of millions of passengers using key air corridors over the Western Balkans
  • Funds are provided under the EIB’s immediate financial response to COVID-19 for the Western Balkans
  • The investment increases the resilience of SMATSA during the ongoing pandemic

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend €10.3 million to Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services SMATSA Llc (SMATSA), which manages air traffic over the two countries. The corridors controlled by SMATSA are key regional, European and global air routes used by tens of millions of passengers and cargo operators from across the globe.

The EIB funds will enable SMATSA to upgrade the reliability and interoperability of its air traffic control services and align them with the Single European Sky (SES) regulations, an EU-level policy introduced to better connect Europe by offering a single regulatory framework for air transport. The investment will improve connectivity across Europe and increase the quality of core air transport infrastructure and services, contributing to more efficient regional travel. This will support further integration of the Western Balkans with the European Union.

The EIB Vice-President responsible for lending operations in Serbia Lilyana Pavlova stated: We are glad to be able to support the air transport sector in the Western Balkans, one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. These additional funds will facilitate the successful completion of SMATSA’s planned investments, which will increase safety at European and regional level as well as efficiency and convergence towards EU standards. As a priority project for the region included in the TEN-T network, it will enhance connectivity and regional integration and facilitate the economic recovery, especially in the tourism sector that has been severely affected by COVID-19.”

SMATSA CEO Predrag Jovanović stated: “The EIB funds will help SMATSA to weather the storm caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. The EIB funds will ensure continuation of the investment programme, which aims to ensure safety of operations, air traffic efficiency, capacity and reduce environmental impact.”

The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi stated:  “Increased safety in air travel is a key European objective, particularly in a transport sector severely hit by the COVID-19. I am glad the EU financial resources are being used by Serbia for this integration effort of the Western Balkans.”

Continued support during the COVID-19 pandemic

This operation complements an earlier €45 million loan for modernisation of the air navigation systems operated by SMATSA, signed in 2018 to increase the efficiency and safety of air travel at regional and European level. The additional funding agreed with SMATSA today will accelerate the development of air traffic services provided by SMATSA under the new circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensure effective implementation and management of the project signed in 2018.

The additional funding falls under the EIB’s immediate response to COVID-19 adopted by Team Europe in May 2020 to aid the socioeconomic recovery of the Western Balkans. To date, the EIB has invested over €2.3 billion in the transportation sector in Serbia, contributing to increased traffic safety and sustaining the country’s economic growth.

Background information

About the EIB in Serbia:

The EIB has been active in Serbia since 1977, providing finance to support key infrastructure projects, small and medium enterprises, industry, services and local authorities. To date, 88 projects have been financed and over €6.1 billion invested in transport, education, healthcare and utility infrastructure as well as small and medium businesses. 

About the EIB in the Balkans:

The EIB is one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans. Since 2009, the Bank has financed projects totalling almost €8.6 billion in the region. Alongside its continued support for the reconstruction and upgrade of public infrastructure, since 2010 the EIB has expanded into many new areas, such as healthcare, research and development, education, and small and medium enterprises.

About SMATSA

SMATSA was established in 2003 as a limited liability company for air navigation services provision, succeeding the previous Federal Air Traffic Control Authority which was part of the Ministry of Transport. The company was founded by two states: the Republic of Serbia and the State of Montenegro, with founding stakes of 92% and 8%, respectively. The company provides air navigation services within the airspace and at the airports of the Republic of Serbia, within the airspace and airports of the State of Montenegro, and in the portion of airspace above the Adriatic Sea. SMATSA Llc operates in full compliance with national and international legislation, as well as with relevant international agreements.