THE SKYOVER SERBIA FELL SILENT on that fateful 19th March 2020. The skies above the world fell silent. Covid-19 grounded planes, closed borders, isolated people, stopped life as we know it. During those fewdays inmid-March the birds had the blue expanse just to themselves, but Air Serbia‘s planes very quickly began keeping themcompany again. That‘s because although passenger traffic stopped for security reasons, stopping in order to halt a pandemic the likes of which humanity has not seen in the last hundred years, brave pilots, cabin crew and themanagement of the national airlinemade themselves available to the state of Serbia and all its citizens. Air Serbia employees had no dilemma, nor fear, because they knowbest how resilient aviation is. There have been difficult times and crises before, which their predecessors traversedwith pride and courage. Aeroput, JAT and JAT Airways, in a history dating back 93 years, confronted impossible situations fromwhich they emerged victorious. This difficult 2020 also put Air Serbia to the test, a test that it passedwith the highest marks! “The airport is open for all humanitarian flights, cargo flights and special ad hoc flights, and Serbia‘s airspace is open for all flights. The human spirit strives for connection, and only aviation can provide that. At this time of previously unrecorded deviations fromplanned traffic, I want to send you a personal message, while we are all confronted by the effects of the Coronavirus. It is inevitable that this will hit us all, as well as our work, our nation and our families. I‘msure that with devotion, perseverance, dedication and the desire of us all, we will emerge fromeverythingmuch stronger and better prepared for the future,” said Air Serbia CEODuncan Naysmith addressing his employees, but also the entire nation. And so it was that as early as 21st March one of our planes flew towards Belgrade carryingmedical devices, disinfectants, masks and other protective equipment, but also six medical experts who‘d fought against the Coronavirus inWuhan. That same day saw an Airbus depart bound for Shanghai, for the second round of valuable help. Serbia saw these flights as a sign of hope that everything will be fine, that we are not alone, that help can arrive, that our Air Serbia is awake and on amission. How that lookedwas best explained by one of the pilots on the A330, which under normal circumstances flies to NewYork. He flew to China during the state of emergency, and the captain toldme during the conversation we had at the time that he‘d never been on a longer or tougher flight, nor had he ever been so proud and happy. Dejan Filipović says that this Air Serbia flewwith pride during the state of emergency, from 18th March to 27th May, because of its country and all of its citizens. The airline transportedmore than 10,000 passengers and conductedmore than 100 rotations, carrying valuablemedical equipment, experts, respirators, hope and salvation, but also returning people fromairports around the world to our Serbia, to their homes, to safety… MORALITY, COURAGE AND STRENGTH OF SERBIA'SWINGS A I R SE R B I A AGA I NST COV I D 1 9 was themost important flight in his life. “Our mission was first to fly fromBelgrade to Shanghai, then on to Guangzhou, and from there back to our capital city. I can emphasise with pride that all colleagues gladly responded to the invitation to go to collect medical experts and help. It is a great honour when you can help your people and country, and when you know that your job done well will help to save lives in our Serbia, which we all love immensely. The flight lastedmore than 30 hours. I have never previously been on a longer and tougher flight, but I‘ve also never felt more pride and happiness to be part of this team. And if we also add to this the welcome greeting at our airport, I think that’s something I’ll remember as long as I live. I knew that the eyes of the whole nation were on us at that moment, and I felt very proud. We all live for such moments, and the happiness was huge, said Captain Filipović back inMarch, adding that Air Serbia employees have always been, andwill always be, the first to act whenever something needs to be done for the nation and the state. That‘s because it was precisely during those days when Air Serbia was transportingmedical aid and citizens fromall over the world that we could see just how important our national airline is. Alongside special cargo flights, of which there were a total of 45, andwhich tirelessly brought us help, the national airline flewproudly and bravely to help Serbian citizens trapped at airports around the world. Air Serbia brought themhome. And although they know they are doing the right thing, at our airline they say that they only became aware of that after landing, when they saw the faces of grateful passengers. Thousands of our citizens who found themselves beyond the country‘s borders were returned to Serbia. They also helped foreign citizens who found themselves in our country when the Coronavirus hit, so Air Serbia flew to Los Angeles on 26th March, transporting 68 American citizens, and from there delivered valuablemedical equipment back to Serbia. A flight toWashington also followed – with 178 American citizens returned home, while 236 of our people arrived back in Serbia from that city. They flew to the airports of almost all European cities, wherever there was at least one Serbian citizen who couldn‘t find their way home. And just over twomonths later, on 21st May, we welcomed the return of our planes to commercial waters, to regular passenger routes, with joy. Guests on the first flight, which took to the sky bound for Zurich at 7.20am, didn‘t hide how happy they were to be able to see their friends and family, to return to their usual work obligations… Air Serbia flew that same day to Frankfurt, followed by London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, NewYork and other destinations that can be flown to at thismoment. Life began to return to the world‘s skies, but security remained the top priority. “We want to assure our passengers that we have taken and implemented all necessarymeasures, in accordance with the highest standards of safety and hygiene, as well as the instructions of the competent domestic and international regulatory bodies. We have proactively introducedmanymeasures that exceed industry standards in this area, in order for us to further protect our passengers and crewmembers. As always, the safety of passengers and crewmembers comes first,” said Air Serbia CEONaysmith. He invited passengers to regularly monitor the company‘s website, as well as social media accounts, in order to always keep updated regardingmeasures that the Serbian national airline is taking to enable its passengers to travel safely and comfortably. Zaposleni u Er Srbiji nisu imali dilemu, ni strah, jer oni najbolje znaju koliko je avijacija otporna / Air Serbia employees had no dilemma, nor fear, because they know best how resilient aviation is Air Serbia » Er Srbija | 69