|Belgrade Airport anticipates another record year as Vinci expresses interest|
Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport projects it will handle between 5 to 5.5 million passengers next year following a record breaking 2014. In order to keep up with the expected growth, the airport is set to resume its expansion project as capacity becomes stretched. “Next year we expect to see passenger growth of around 10%, which means we are reaching the upper limits of our capacity, so we have to invest in infrastructure”, the airport’s acting CEO, Saša Vlaisavljević, says. He adds that over the next two years the airport will become a major construction site, with the expansion of its aprons and terminal two building. According to the CEO, the airport is ready handle long haul flights from 2015. Earlier this year, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, said, “I am certain that by the end of 2016 - 2017 Belgrade Airport will become the biggest hub in the region. Nikola Tesla Airport is experiencing problems as a result of increased traffic, in particular with baggage sorting and aging technology”.
Belgrade Airport has recently received permits to commence work on the third phase of its reconstruction and development project which 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. The Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA) recently announced plans for the construction of a new control tower in Belgrade, which will take three years to build.
Meanwhile, construction and concessions company Vinci expressed interest last week in investing or acquiring concession rights in Belgrade Airport. Accompanying the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on a visit to Serbia, Vinci Airports Chairman, Nicolas Notebaert, said, "Vinci Airports have an ambition to cooperate on the development of Belgrade Airport and other Serbian airports. We are interested in long-term partnerships", he said. The Serbian government recently adopted plans for the public company running Belgrade Airport to be renamed to “Airports of Serbia” with more than twenty of the country’s smaller airports to be added to its managing portfolio. In September, Vinci lost out in a bid to buy a 75.5% stake in Slovenia's Ljubljana Airport to German airport operator Fraport.