|Serbian government denies involvment in airport charge hike|
The Serbian government has denied claims it is running out Wizz Air from its base in Belgrade by instructing the airport to hike its fees for the low cost airline by 40%. “The Serbian government and the Ministry for Transport do not influence the pricing of services since they form part of the airport’s business policy”, the ministry said in a statement. On December 30, 2013, the ministry adopted new guidelines for the development of air traffic which outlines criteria for possible stimulation of airlines for the launch of new routes from Serbia, it added. The ministry also said it recently issued permits to Wizz Air for the 2014 summer season for all of their requested routes.
However, the low cost airline, which just announced plans to suspend flights from Belgrade to Charleroi and Sanderfjord and reduce frequencies on selected destinations, accused the government of protectionism. Wizz Air is now charged 31 euros per passenger by the airport while the national carrier, Air Serbia, is charged seventeen euros, the low cost airline told the “Tanjug” newsagency. Wizz Air’s Executive Vice President, John Stephenson, admitted the no frills airline has been given incentives and discounts at Belgrade Airport over the past three years adding that, “Wizz Air would not be in Serbia if it were not for those incentives”.
As a result of the increased fees, Wizz Air’s ticket prices from Belgrade will rise from 5 to 10%. In addition to the cancellation of its two weekly flights to Charleroi and its seasonal two weekly service to Sanderfjord, from May 6, the airline will cut one of its weekly flights to Stockholm, Beauvais, Basel, Memmingen and Eindhoven. Services to Larnaca, London Luton, Gothenburg, Malmo and Dortmund remain unaffected. Wizz Air says the reduction in operations will see a cut in capacity of 130.000 seats in 2014 with 700 fewer flights operated this year as a result of the airport’s decision.