Banja Luka - Belgrade flights a “high priority”
Flights between Banja Luka and Belgrade are planned to commence by December 2012, the Prime Ministers of Serbia and the entity of Republika Srpska said after a meeting in Banja Luka yesterday. It is believed that Jat Airways will be offered up to four million euros to operate the service two to three times per week in the coming winter period with an ATR 72. The airline was supposed to launch flights between the two cities and operate services from Banja Luka to Vienna this summer season but cancelled such plans at the last minute due to a fleet shortage.
With Banja Luka Airport struggling with financial problems and a lack of passengers, the airport proposed for Jat to operate some of its seasonal flights to Pula, Dubrovnik and Split via Banja Luka earlier this year. The Serbian carrier rejected the offer. Jat Airways has operated flights to Banja Luka on and off for several years. Services were cancelled each time due to extremely poor loads. It remains to be seen whether the new route launch will materialise as Bosnia and Herzegovina is heading to the polls for local elections this Sunday and many promises are unlikely to be kept, as is often the case in politics.
Banja Luka Airport only recently secured the extension of its international operating license until 2014. In the first eight months of 2012 the airport handled only 3.857 passengers, down 32.4% compared to the same period last year. B&H Airlines remains its only customer. The national carrier plans to operate four weekly flights to Zurich via Banja Luka this winter season.