Successful Clearance of “Ponikve” Airport Paves Way for Safer Air Traffic and Development of Tourism in Zlatibor District

On Monday, April 29, 2024, US Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Mr Christopher Hill, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Republic of Korea Embassy to Serbia, Mr Seokhong Shin, visited the Užice Ponikve Airport – 6 Site of the cluster munitions clearance project, which was developed by the Serbian Mine Action Centre.

Funds for the implementation of the above Project were provided from the budget of the Republic of Serbia, which, through the ITF Enhancing Human Security, were matched by donations from the US Government and the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Given that the Ponikve Airport is planned to be opened for public, commercial traffic, for which the Serbian Government has allocated significant funds, it is necessary to create adequate conditions by clearing explosive remnants of war (ERW) from the contaminated area.

ERW clearance will create the preconditions for obtaining all the necessary flight permits, and the reconstruction of  the “Ponikve Airport”, as well as the construction of new infrastructure facilities.

The teams of the SMAC, the contractor “STOP Mines”, the subcontractor “In Demining” and the monitoring organization “Exploring” worked dedicatedly to identify and clear all ERW on the airport terrain.

The Sector for Emergency Management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted safely demolition of found explosive devices.

This significant step allows the Ponikve Airport to prepare for the recovery of operations and to reopen its runways for the civil air traffic.

SMAC Director, Mr Bojan Glamočlija, among other things, said: “The completion of the ERW clearance process is a big step forward for the Ponikve Airport and for the air traffic in the region. We are proud of the dedication of our teams and look forward to reopening the airport to passengers and airlines. It is expected that the implementation of all planned projects at the Ponikve Airport will have a positive impact on regional connectivity and economic development, enabling passengers and airlines to use these important air routes again.”

The event was attended by the Assistant Minister for Inspection Supervision in the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure with associates, the Mayor of the City of Užice with associates, the Director of “Airports of Serbia”, the ITF representative, as well as representatives of partner organizations DSMS, Texas, USA and UK based “DRAKON Group”.

This event was a unique opportunity to highlight the commitment of the Republic of Serbia to solving the problem of explosive remnants of war in cooperation with international partners, as well as the importance of investing in air traffic safety and engaging demining experts to ensure the safety of passengers, crews and airplanes.

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