A RECENT James Bond movie gave Bratislava a mention, although it was more of a joke than real recognition. In a rare moment of relative peace, agent 007 asked his faithful secretary to obtain travel documents for Tangiers "via Bratislava".
Perhaps a scriptwriter wanted to use the name of the most obscure capital in Europe, in which case surely that place in Moldova would do a better job. Or possibly he chose the capital with an international airport but with foreign flights only to Prague and Moscow, which not so long ago was just the case with Bratislava.
Laugh no more. Bratislava is creeping onto the airline route map of Europe, thanks to SkyEurope.
SkyEurope is not the first private airline to operate from Bratislava's international airport, but it is certainly the first to succeed. It has not been easy, of course. There were many delays before the first flight took off in February last year. Most of the blame for that lies with the government, which said it welcomed a private airline while at the same time doing little to help it overcome the obstacles on the runway.
But SkyEurope was blessed by not sharing the ridiculous fiscal problem of its predecessor, Tatra Air, which was grounded by government demands it pay value-added tax on the total value of its leased aircraft - a demand dating back to before Slovakia came into being in January 1993.
Bratislava needs more flights.
Thanks to the government no longer getting in the way, SkyEurope is able to do a great job three times over, by serving the needs of flying Slovaks, putting Bratislava on the map, and helping to pull Slovakia into the western European mainstream.
17. Feb 2003 at 0:00