|Pristina Airport’s passenger numbers suffer strong decline|
Pristina Airport has seen its passenger numbers plummet as it continues to feel the effects of Belle Air Europe’s demise. Once its busiest customer, Belle Air Europe suspended operations in late November last year and has since declared bankruptcy. Pristina Airport is yet to recover despite introducing a range of subsidies and benefits to airlines operating flights to the Kosovan airport. During the first five months of the year, Pristina welcomed 500.782 passengers through its doors, a decrease of 18.6% compared to the same period last year. The airport shed some 114.163 passengers when compared to the first five months of 2013 and did not manage to surpass 100.000 passengers per month during the first three months of the year. In contrast, the airport did not dip below the 100.000 mark during any month last year.
On March 27, Pristina Airport introduced its new route development incentive to spur interest among airlines to launch destinations which have not been served from the city for at least twelve months. Those airlines willing to operate flights to new routes are now exempt from landing fees for the first year and will enjoy a 50% discount in their second year of operations. The additional frequency incentive hopes to encourage airlines to add additional frequencies to their existing schedules. Airlines operating at least one additional frequency have been freed of landing fees for one year. Carriers which have handled over 50.000 passengers from Pristina last year are now eligible for financial support. Pristina Airport will provide 25.000 euros to airlines which handled between 50.001 - 100.000 passengers last year (Austrian and Pegasus Airlines) and 200.000 euros to airlines carrying between 100.001 - 200.000 travellers (Germanwings, Adria Airways, Turkish Airlines, Darwin Airline, Germania, easyJet and Endelweiss). Airlines that handle over 200.000 passengers will be provided with financial assistance ranging from 300.000 euros onwards. Finally, airlines which have an average load factor of less than 50% on their flights to and from Pristina are now cleared of landing fees for a year. In addition, Pristina Airport will provide support for marketing and promotion. However, airlines have not been so eager to launch flights to Pristina this summer, despite the market void left by Belle Air Europe.
Pristina Airport has held the title of third busiest in the former Yugoslavia for several years and has been a star performer in the region. Last October, the airport, run by a Franco-Turkish consortium, opened a brand new multi million euro terminal. However, the airport will have to pick up its game this summer otherwise it risks being overtaken by Split Airport which anticipates growth of 4%-5% by the end of the year. Furthermore, Ljubljana Airport is also catching up. During the first five months of 2014, Slovenia’s busiest airport handled 443.303 passengers. Pristina Airport welcomed 1.628.678 travellers in 2013, 275.814 of which were carried by Belle Air Europe until its demise on November 27.