Banja Luka Airport avoids closureAfter months of uncertainty, Banja Luka Airport’s international operating license has been extended until August 20, 2014, effectively keeping the airport open for at lest another two years. The decision came after the entity government approved a 1.7 million euro cash injection for the 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’s aim will now be to attract much needed customers. Banja Luka continues to be served by four weekly B&H Airlines flights to Zurich. The Bosnian national carrier plans to maintain the four weekly service during the 2012/13 winter season. The airport hopes to begin negotiations with Austrian over the potential launch of flights to Vienna next year. Today, the airport is far from its glory days of the late 1990s when it had scheduled services not only to Vienna but also to Belgrade, Athens, Tivat and Salzburg. It was once served by the likes of Austrian Airlines, Montenegro Airlines and Air Srpska.
Banja Luka has seen its passenger numbers significantly decline throughout 2012. In July the airport welcomed only 589 passengers, down 58% on the same month last year. As a result, Banja Luka Airport was the fourth busiest airport in the country, being surpassed by Tuzla which, unlike Banja Luka, has no scheduled traffic. Overall, the airport handled 3.169 passengers in the first seven months of the year, down 33.5% on 2011.