|Belgrade Airport getting ready for future transatlantic operations|
Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport’s newly named acting CEO, Saša Vlaisavljević, says one of his main priorities will be to prepare the airport for long haul flights, which are expected to begin next year or in early 2016. According to Mr. Vlaisavljević, the airport will resume with its multi million euro expansion project by starting work on its third phase. It involves the expansion of the remaining A concourse gates, thus completing the upgrade of all of the airport’s departure and gate lounges. The project will culminate with the fourth and final phase which will see the construction of a completely new floor stretching over 4.900 square metres, to be built above the current terminal two building. The airport is also set to invest in aircraft de-icing equipment, busses and tech support. Further investments will be made in improving security procedures ahead of planned flights to the United States and Canada. “Our priority is traffic and infrastructure. We have to be completely ready for long haul flights", Mr. Vlaisavljević says.
The acting CEO made no secret the airport will be primarily assisting Air Serbia as it continues to expand. “Air Serbia has recorded the highest growth in aircraft movement out of any other airline. During the first six months this growth amounted to 76% compared to the same period last year. Therefore, the airport must adjust its capacity, infrastructure and staff, so we can fully support our national carrier”, Mr. Vlaisavljević says. He adds, “My first and most important task will be to improve traffic and infrastructure so we can take advantage of this opportunity we have with Air Serbia, which has incredible momentum. We will be a good logistical base for our national carrier so it can become the most successful airline in this part of Europe”. The comments come despite foreign airlines accounting for 51.2% of all passengers passing through Belgrade Airport during the first half of this year.
Earlier this summer, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded Serbia from a category two to a category one status, allowing carriers from the country to operate flights to the United States. According to earlier statements made by both the Prime Minister and Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan, direct flights from Serbia to the States are likely to begin in the second half of 2015. Air Serbia itself has never confirmed any transatlantic flight plans. According to Mr. Vlaisavljević, Belgrade Airport’s target is to handled over four million passengers this year, with numbers set to continue growing into 2015 with the introduction of long haul flights.