|Edelweiss drops Banja Luka plans|
Swiss-based Edelweiss Air, which was to launch two weekly seasonal summer flights from Zurich to Banja Luka on July 3, 2015, has suspended ticket sales for the route and removed Banja Luka from its destination list. The move comes only two months after the flights were initially announced and put on sale together with Podgorica. Flights to the Montenegrin capital will be operated as announced and tickets are still on sale. Edelweiss is a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines and, apart from inter-European services, operates long haul flights to Canada, the US, Japan and Thailand as well. Edelweiss has a notable presence in the former Yugoslavia with flights to Skopje and Pristina, as well as seasonal services to Split. The Swiss airline was to compete directly against B&H Airlines on the Banja Luka – Zurich service. B&H maintains flights on the route throughout the year with its turboprop ATR72. Edelweiss was to operate services with the jet-engine Airbus A320, each Monday and Friday.
Meanwhile, the Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Martin Pamer, and Banja Luka Airport CEO, Miroslav Janjić, have discussed the possibility of establishing cooperation and connecting Banja Luka with Vienna. The Ambassador noted that a significant numbers of Austrian citizens, especially those originating from the entity of the Republic of Srpska, are interested in nonstop flights between Banja Luka and Vienna, adding that Austrian Airlines had previously looked into the route. "We will try to connect airports from Austria with Banja Luka. We have indentified that Banja Luka Airport has the potential to develop and serve the entire region", Ambassador Pamer said.
Talks between Banja Luka Airport and Austrian Airlines were held last summer. Austrian ran services to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city during the 1990s. The airport’s CEO, Miroslav Janjić, says Banja Luka is committed to establishing flights to Vienna, which will allow passengers to transfer onto other services in the Austrian capital. Banja Luka Airport was revived late last year after Air Serbia launched services from Belgrade. During the course of the year, B&H Airlines introduced seasonal flights to Tivat while maintaining its existing Zurich service. As a result, the airport has handheld 25.645 passengers so far this year, an increase of 286.5% compared to the same period in 2013.