Banja Luka Airport expects busier 2013
After underperforming in 2012, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third busiest airport, Banja Luka, is hoping to secure new flights to Vienna in the coming months. The airport is currently only served by B&H Airlines to Zurich. The airport’s management has written to Austrian Airlines, encouraging it to resume flights to the city. On Tuesday Nedeljko Čubrilović, the Minister for Transport in the entity government, met with the Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the potential of flights between Banja Luka and Vienna.
In 2012 Banja Luka welcomed only 6.424 passengers, a decrease of 23.2% on the year before. Throughout last year, the airport attempted to attract new customers. During the summer it proposed for Jat Airways to make a stop in Banja Luka on its flights to the Croatian coast, however, the airline declined. It once again attempted to lure Jat late last year by offering hefty subsidies for services to Belgrade and Vienna but to no avail. Furthermore, it was rejected by the small regional airline Di Air to launch charters from Tivat during the summer.
Late last year Banja Luka Airport also held talks with Wizz Air over potential flights from Malmo, although the outcome of the talks is still unknown. At the time, the acting CEO of the Airports of Republika Srpska company, Davorin Mihić, said, “If they are willing to launch year long flights we will put tickets on sale in January while the flights will launch in April”. In December 2012, the entity government decided to close down Sky Srpska, an airline planned to be based in Banja Luka. 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. In 2012, Banja Luka Airport handled fewer passengers than other comparable airports in the region such as Niš and Brač.