|Osijek Airport records busiest year|
Osijek Airport has registered its busiest post-war year on record thanks to budget carrier Ryanair and Trade Air’s commuter domestic service. Osijek, in Croatia’s east, expects to handle some 30.000 passengers by the end of the year, up from just 3.404 in 2013 and is set to overtake figures recorded back in 1985. Ryanair has been fuelling the growth with its seasonal summer flights from London Stansted Airport, with 18.000 passengers making use of the service this year. “Some 25% of all passengers on the route were British citizens, which is probably the biggest gain this airport has had. It shows we made the right decision with this route. These results are even more impressive having in mind the airport was facing closure only three years ago”, Osijek Airport’s CEO, Domagoj Marinić says. He adds, “This does not mark the end of our pursuit to expand the network of low cost airlines operating to the airport. In 2015 and 2016 we will further expand this offer, particularly with flights to Germany”. Ryanair’s service between London and Croatia’s fourth largest city ran twice per week over the summer.
Due to its close proximity to the Serbian border, a portion of the approach to Osijek Airport is controlled by the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency. The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, says the two countries will regulate this issue in the coming weeks. “In the next two to three weeks, the two countries will sign a bilateral air agreement which will allow incoming aircraft to use part of the airspace controlled by Serbia. This will help improve the airport’s competitiveness”, Mr. Hajdaš Dončić said. The Minister added that Osijek Airport should become a low cost hub.
Osijek’s busy year marks a major turnaround for the airport which was on the brink of collapse only two years ago. Osijek Airport suffered significantly after Ryanair suspended flights to the city for two years in 2012. It is believed the low cost airline pulled out after the airport was no longer able to subsidise the flights. Furthermore, Osijek Airport faced mounting debt, outstanding loan repayments, as well as lawsuits and was unable pay its staff for almost half a year. The Croatian government has invested significant resources over the past two years in securing a brighter future for the airport and initiated Trade Air’s domestic flights from Osijek to Zagreb.