Extra funds just in timeThe entity government of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina has approved a 1.7 million euro cash injection for Banja Luka Airport in order for it to maintain its international operating license. The money will be used to finance shortcomings at the airport, which include the lengthening of taxiways, purchase of new security equipment and the installation of a new security fence. The airport has only a month to carry out the necessary work before an international monitoring body decides whether the airport is fit to continue serving commercial flights.
It is not the first time the airport has been given additional funds on top of the allocated annual budget of nearly half a million euros. Banja Luka Airport welcomed 2.580 passengers in the first half of the year, down 27.5% on 2011. The airport is served by four weekly B&H Airlines flights from Sarajevo, which continue on to Zurich.
Once the drama with its international operating license is resolved, Banja Luka Airport can focus on trying to attract foreign airlines. It has offered Serbia’s Jat Airways subsidised flights from Belgrade, which, upon government approval, would continue on to Vienna. On the other hand, the airport unsuccessfully tried to lure the small charter airline Di Air to operate flights from Tivat this summer. Furthermore, the airport has stated it will look into attracting Austrian to launch flights to the city next summer season. The Austrian carrier once operated scheduled services to Banja Luka. Its inability to attract foreign carriers raises questions whether smaller airports in the region such as Osijek and Niš can operate without large subsidies offered to customers.