Niš Airport’s only scheduled service in doubt
Montenegro Airlines is considering suspending services to Niš Constantine the Great Airport at the start of the 2013/14 winter season after local authorities announced they will no longer be able to subsidise the service to Podgorica. “We have not held talks with Montenegro Airlines since there are no funds for subsidies in the city budget. I am certain Montenegro Airlines will take into account the financial assistance it has received over the past three years and the increase in passenger numbers it has recorded on the route. We believe the airline will continue flying to Niš even without subsidies”, Dragan Bugarinović, the CEO of Constantine the Great Airport says.
The Montenegrin carrier launched flights from Podgorica to Niš in 2010. The service is vital for the airport as it is not served by any other scheduled airline. The majority of passengers using the service transit through Podgorica and continue onwards to Western Europe. Niš has seen its passenger numbers rise over the past few months following a slow start to the year. In August the airport welcomed 3.697 passengers through its doors, an increase of 28% compared to the same month last year. Figures have been boosted by improved numbers recorded on Montenegro Airlines’ five weekly flights as well as Freebird’s charter flights from Turkey. In the first eight month of 2013, the airport handled 17.285, down 6% on the same period last year.
Mr. Bugarinović believes the airport could see additional flights once the fate of Jat Airways’ fleet of Boeing aircraft is decided. The CEO of Niš Airport hinted the aircraft could go to Jat Airways’ Macedonian subsidiary Aeromak, with Niš playing a central role in the airline’s network. Furthermore, Mr. Bugarinović hopes Air Serbia will recognise Niš’s potential as a possible destination. Niš Airport is currently being reconstructed and its facilities upgraded.