|What a year! Seven EX-YU airports handle over one million passengers|
Airports across the former Yugoslavia have recorded their busiest year on record, with a historic seven airports handling over one million passengers. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport led the growth, welcoming a record breaking 4.311.684 passengers over the past eleven months, with figures set to eclipse 4.6 million by the end of 2014. It has registered growth of 31.6% compared to the same period last year. The results have been fuelled by Air Serbia, which this year introduced seven new routes from the Serbian capital, including Budapest, Beirut, Sofia, Tirana, Varna, Warsaw and Zagreb. The airline now accounts for almost half of the airport’s passenger numbers. During the year, Belgrade completed the second of four expansion phases and opened several new gates, in order to deal with additional passenger flow. As the year comes to a close, Belgrade will become the first airport in the former Yugoslavia to join the company of Europe’s 100 busiest airports.
Zagreb Airport has also seen its passenger numbers grow in 2014. It welcomed 2.267.141 travellers through its doors by the end of November, an increase of 5.4%. Growth has been attributed primarily to foreign carriers and the arrival of a notable number of new airlines. KLM, Eurolot, Air Serbia and Flydubai all inaugurated services to the Croatian capital this year, with talks ongoing with several European national carriers to introduce flights to the city in 2015. The Croatian Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs recently said that SkyGreece Airlines will begin summer charters from Toronto to Zagreb next year. During 2014, Croatia’s busiest airport finally began work on its much anticipated new terminal building (pictured above), which is set to be completed by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, Split and Dubrovnik registered record numbers with the two handling 1.720.550 and 1.569.109 passengers in eleven months respectively. Split has now positioned itself as the third busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia for the first time. Next year is already shaping up to be a busy one for the two with many airlines set to launch new seasonal flights, while the resumption of existing services are being moved forward earlier in the season.
Pristina Airport struggled during the year with passenger numbers declining significantly as a result of Belle Air Europe’s demise late last year. The airport welcomed 1.310.696 travellers over the past eleven months and is set for a photo finish race with Dubrovnik Airport for the title of EX-YU’s fourth busiest airport. However, Pristina’s declining numbers have begun to slow in November with December set to see growth for the first time this year. Meanwhile, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport marked a big year with the privatisation of its operator to Germany’s Fraport. So far in 2014, Jože Pučnik Airport has seen 1.226.947 passengers, up 3.1%. The airport anticipates for numbers to pick up next year with Adria to launch several new routes and the launch of Swiss’ flights from Zurich.
Skopje Alexander the Great Airport joins Belgrade in recording one of the biggest passenger growth rates in Europe out of all the other capital cities on the continent. Skopje saw 1.120.870 passengers over the past eleven months, up 21%. Wizz Air, which handled over 45% of those passengers, expanded its operations in the Macedonian capital by basing a second aircraft in the city and launching four new routes. New arrivals also included Alitalia. Skopje has managed to handle over one million passengers for the first time in fourteen years and for only the second time in its history. Strong growth is anticipated in 2015 with four new routes to be launched by an airline that wins a tender by the Macedonian government for subsidies. Furthermore, Swiss will introduce flights from Geneva while the state plans to launch its new national carrier sometime next year.
Montenegro’s two international airports, Podgorica and Tivat, performed well during 2014, primarily as a result of the latter’s growth. Tivat Airport welcomed an impressive 900.331 passengers during the first eleven months, an increase of 10%. Its local counterpart, Podgorica, handled just over 650.000 passengers. However, the Montenegrin capital will see Edelweiss launch seasonal summer flights next year from Zurich, while Montenegro Airlines will inaugurate flights to Lyon and is considering adding several other routes as well. Meanwhile, Sarajevo Airport recorded its busiest year on record with 666.822 passengers passing through its doors so far in 2014, up 6%. It welcomed Flydubai as its newest customer and saw Turkish Airlines continue to strengthen its presence. The airport expects stronger growth next year with Swiss to launch flights from Zurich and Geneva and the expected launch of Bosnian Wand Airlines, which will inaugurate services from Sarajevo to Amsterdam Athens, Frankfurt and Stockholm. Furthermore, it is negotiating with several new airlines and will upgrade its facilities and open a dedicated low cost terminal over the next two years.
Finally, Tuzla Airport has seen phenomenal growth as a result of Wizz Air, with the airport handling 137.822 passengers in eleven months, up 156%. Growth of 286% was recorded in Banja Luka, while Niš Constantine the Great Airport, which struggled without commercial traffic throughout the year, has inked an agreement for Wizz Air to launch flights to the city next summer from Basel.
EX-YU airports handling over one million passengers in 2014, January - November: