Thursday, July 16, 2009

Belgrade prepares for passenger flood

Terminal 1 at Belgrade Airport
Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport is already preparing for 2010 when it expects to break certain records when it comes to the number of passengers that will use the airport. After the European Union announced yesterday that Serbian citizens and passport holders will no longer need visas to travel to countries of the European Union, a mass increase in travel is expected. Until now Serbian citizens needed visas to enter any EU state. Obtaining a visa for most citisenss was extremely difficult, especially for students. However from January 1, 2010 Serbian citizens will able to travel visa free to any EU country (with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland) and will also be able to travel visa free to a few other non-EU states (within Europe) such as Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. It is also expected that from January the free sky agreement will finally be in force in Serbia. This agreement, ratified a few months ago by the Serbian parliament will allow any airline to fly to Serbia without the possibility of not being able to obtain a license. Logically, the number of airline operators to Belgrade will increase.

When all of these factors are taken into account, the largest airport in the Ex-Yu region will have to increase capacity. The airport plans to reopen terminal 1 after 3 years. The terminal was closed in 2006 when the refurbished multi million Euro terminal 2 was opened. The original plan was to keep terminal 1 open if Montenegro did not declare independence. That year, Montenegro voted on the issue of whether it would stay within a state union with Serbia. If the scenario turned out that Montenegro would stay within the state union, terminal 1 would have been separated from terminal 2 and it would have been used exclusively for flights between Belgrade, Tivat, Podgorica and Niš. Since Montenegro voted for its independence the terminal was closed.

From 2010 terminal 1 will be used exclusively by low cost airlines, with Niki expected to be the largest low cost operator from Belgrade. The terminal would also be used by charter airlines. The airport’s authorities have decided to test the terminal with check in desks opening for Nouvelair, Atlasjet, Pegasus Airlines and some Jat Airways flights. Passengers that will be checking in at terminal 1 for a Jat flight are those travelling on the airline’s charter summer services. Together terminal 1 and 2 have a capacity of 7 million.

The new visa liberalisation from January 1, 2010 will also apply for citizens of Macedonia and Montenegro. Croatian citizens do not need visas to travel to the European Union, and naturally Slovenian citizens, as European Union citizens do not require visas either. The only country in the former Yugoslavia, after January 1, that will remain with visa restrictions are those in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before the civil wars a Yugoslav passport allowed visa free travel to almost any country.

9 comments:

  1. So called 'Open Skies' may take effect in 2010, but this will be Stage 1 of a 3 stage process. Full liberalisation won't take place until Stage 3 takes effect, and that may be some way off - so don't expect a flood of LCCs to Belgrade anytime soon.

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  2. When do Niki plan to start operations from Belgrade or are they still seeking a provisional licence?

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  3. I think that the old capacity of the Belgrade Airport was 5 mill (T1+T2). After the reconstruction of T2, its capacity was extended from 3 mill to 5, therefor total capacity of the airport should be somewhere around 7 millions?
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

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  4. @Miloš: You are correct. It has been fixed in the article.

    @NemanjaL Niki can fly when the open skies is in force.

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  5. 'The only country in the former Yugoslavia, after January 1, that will remain with visa restrictions are those in Bosnia and Herzegovina'.

    .....and if you count Kosovo!

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  6. @Anonymous: Serbia is currently in phase 2 of the implementation of the open sky agreement.

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  7. I have one simple question,are there any chances that some of the biggest low cot airlines will start flying to Belgrade and from there- Easyjet, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Wizzair? I know that have been some news about Niki, but to be honest prices on their site are nothing to be called LOW COST!!!! I have flown for less money with BA and Croatia Airlines! What is happening with Nis? Why Nis can't be interesting for tourists-Kopaonik? What about Banja Luka? Does anyone have any information about these! Thank you

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  8. EX-YU AVIATION:

    Once again you are wrong: Serbia isn't even at the starting point of ECAA, they have just ratified it for christ sake!

    Get your facts straight - as administrator, the onus on you is to at least be correct some of the time...

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  9. @Anonymous: Serbia IS in the second transitional phase of the implementation of the agreement. The agreement was ratified on May 13. The second phase of the implementation of open skies begins immediately after the parliament ratifies the agreement (which it has, meaning that the country is in PHASE 2 of the process). The first results of open skies will be seen after the completion of phase 2 however the Serbian parliament will have to pass new aviation laws in order for phase 2 to be completed.

    Please, before being accusatory and angry as you are in most of your comments you can simply ask for an explanation. As with all of your allegations they will be explained to you.

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