Serbia’s ghost airport
Almost a full year after construction work on Morava Airport, located in the central Serbian town of Kraljevo, was completed, the airport still hasn’t seen a single customer with the 3.000 square metre terminal building standing alone and forgotten. Despite plans for Jat Airways to operate two weekly flights between Kraljevo and Istanbul last summer, the service never came to light as the terminal building was only recently issued an operating license, allowing it to cater for passengers and aircraft. According to the Serbian government, it is unlikely that Morava Airport will see any flights until the runway, which can currently accommodate only small turboprop aircraft, is extended.
While the lengthening of the airport’s runway by 300 metres was planned to begin as early as last summer, the project has been put on hold since a promised ten million euro donation from the Turkish government to Morava Airport was never made. However, the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Rasim Ljajić, who recently visited Turkey, said documentation for the donation grant was recently sent by the Turkish authorities and a tender for the runway extension will open soon. Mr. Ljajić noted that the money will also be used to build a security fence around the airport in order for it to fulfil all international safety requirements. The Deputy Prime Minister believes that once the extension is completed Kraljevo will see commercial flights, adding that a Turkish airline has already shown interest to operate services to the city.
The Serbian government has poured 22 million euros into the airport project in hope it would stimulate business and investment in the area. Since the airport lies between several industrial cities, the government believes the likes of the Italian run Fiat-Zastava car manufacturer would make use of the airport. The Morava Airport terminal building features a duty free shop, exchange office, commercial office space, a detention centre, clinic and a cargo depot. A new control tower has also been built. There is widespread scepticism whether the money has been well spent since Niš Constantine the Great Airport, in eastern Serbia, has not experienced major success since it reopened for commercial use in 2004.