Wizz Air sets eyes on former YugoslaviaWizz Air has become the first low cost airline with operational basis within the former Yugoslavia. The low cost Hungarian airline plans to open its sixteenth base in Skopje next month and expand services from its base in Belgrade. Furthermore, the no frills carrier will be launching flights to Ljubljana this winter while it continues to pursue the possibility of inaugurating services to Sarajevo. On the back of excellent financial results, Wizz Air has 118 Airbus A320 jets on order and is increasingly focusing on the EX-YU market.
From October 28, Wizz will base an aircraft in the Macedonian capital and launch flights to Eindhoven, Bergamo, Memmingen, Basel Mulhouse, Dortmund and Malmo. In return, the airline has been granted 3.5 million euros in subsidies. However, Wizz Air intends to hire 300 locals and carry 400.000 passengers in its first year of operations. If flights prove successful a new expansion is planned for the summer of 2013 with services to Brussels, Rome and Barcelona being considered. On the other hand, over the next year Wizz Air will boost its presence in Belgrade by basing a second aircraft in the Serbian capital next May and launching four new routes. The airline is tipped to announce additional new flights out of Belgrade next year, namely to Spain. It plans to welcome 500.000 passengers on its Belgrade routes in 2013. Ljubljana will also see Wizz Air flights starting next month, with services to London and Charleroi to be inaugurated.
The low cost airline has attempted to launch flights from Sarajevo. Talks were held with airport authorities earlier this year but failed due to high taxes at Sarajevo Airport. The airport’s managing director, Ivica Veličan said, “We were in negotiations with Wizz Air, however, all of the low cost companies place great demands upon the airport”. Wizz Air receives some form of subsidies from all the airports it operates to in the former Yugoslavia. Veličan further explained that if the airport was to reduce taxes for Wizz Air it would have to do so for all other airlines, which wouldn’t be viable.
The liberalisation of the skies above the former Yugoslavia could see Wizz Air become the first low cost airline to operate flights between former Yugoslav republics within the next ten years, which would undoubtedly cause major competition on routes which are currently operated by a single or two airlines at most.