Belgrade Airport denies Wizz Air privileges
Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has denied offering benefits in the form of discounted services to low cost airline Wizz Air. The airport has come under fire after the daily “Novosti” published a piece alleging Serbia’s busiest airport has been discounting passenger taxes, handling, landing and service fees for the low cost airline over the past three years. According to the “Novosti” newspaper, Wizz Air has saved 5.4 million euros at Belgrade Airport since 2011, including a 20% discount for using terminal one, a 45% discount on handling and infrastructure use, 30% reduction on landing, 100% discount on the use of air bridges, 30% reduction on parking and lighting, 45% off for night time handling and a 45% discount on using airport infrastructure at night time.
In its defence, the airport says Wizz Air does pay less since it chooses to use less expensive services while passenger taxes are discounted since the airline uses terminal one for check-in procedures where taxes are lowered for all airlines. “There is no way that any airline can have a privileged status compared to others. There are defined prices and regulations which specify under which circumstances a reduction in fees for each type of service is possible”, the airport said in a statement. It adds, “All incentives are commercially justified and are limited in time”. Belgrade Airport is one of Serbia’s most profitable state owned companies.
The Serbian Ministry of Transport has announced it is launching an investigation into the issue. “We will examine whether there were unjustified discounts”, the ministry says. It adds the airport is allowed to offer incentives to airlines opening new routes for less than two years, after which the airline must pay its fees in full. Wizz Air is Serbia’s second busiest airline, handling 480.000 passengers in 2013. The former Serbian national carrier Jat Airways has long campaigned against the low cost airline. In 2012 Jat said in a statement, “Wizz Air has been granted a license to set up a base in Belgrade while Jat would never have the same rights from Budapest”.