Fuel prices a deal breaker for Wizz Air
The low cost airline Wizz Air is unlikely to launch flights from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city despite months of negotiations. The news comes only a week after the airline announced its first service from the country, from Tuzla to Malmo in Sweden, to be inaugurated on May 31. High fuel prices are the main reason for Wizz Air’s decision to back away from Banja Luka. “Our fuel costs 1.89 euros per litre but for an agreement to be reached it must range between 1.10 and 1.20 euros. We are unable to lower the cost below the asking price of the fuel provider”, Davorin Mihić, the acting CEO of Banja Luka Airport says. Wizz offered Banja Luka flights from Luton, Malmo, Eindhoven and Dortmund to choose from, with the airport selecting the service from Sweden as it considered it to be the most viable out of the offered destinations.
A Wizz Air delegation recently reviewed the facilities at Banja Luka Airport and reported they were satisfied with the airport’s technical capabilities. However, Mr. Mihić admits that talks are likely to fail. Banja Luka Airport is in need of new customers after narrowly avoiding closure last year due to financial problems. In the first two months of the year the airport handled 966 passengers, a decrease of 20.5% compared to the same period in 2012. The airport is served solely by B&H Airlines, which maintains three weekly flights to Zurich.
Wizz Air began talks with Bosnian officials last year with plans to launch flights from all four commercial airports in the country, including Sarajevo and Mostar. Talks with Sarajevo Airport ended in failure when the airport’s CEO said that reducing service costs for Wizz Air would cause a “domino effect” with other airlines. The no frills airline is said to be interested in launching flights from Mostar to Italy and Poland in order to cash in on the flourishing religious tourism.