|Wizz Air sheds light on new destinations, fees and Macedonian subsidies|
Low cost carrier Wizz Air is negotiating potential new flights to Podgorica, Pristina and Sarajevo. Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Wizz Air‘s CEO, Jozsef Varadi, confirmed to EX-YU Aviation News that the airline is in talks with authorities in both Montenegro and Kosovo, but noted that high fees are deterring the airline from expanding further into the former Yugoslavia. “We can confirm talks with Montenegro and Kosovo. However, airport costs are a problem and we have been dragged into long negotiations”, Mr. Varadi said. The CEO added that he is hopeful to conclude successful negotiations with these airports soon. Late last year, Predrag Jelušić, the Montenegrin State Secretary for Tourism, said, “I believe we are very close to reaching a deal with Wizz Air to launch flights from Montenegro to Germany and Poland”. Meanwhile, last month, Pristina Airport hinted Wizz Air would soon introduce flights to the city.
Commenting on the former Yugoslav market, Mr. Varadi said that the budget carrier is “very happy”, emphasising Macedonia as an example of a successful partnership. “We are very satisfied with Macedonia. The Balkans are one of our success stories. We will look at new opportunities in Macedonia as long as we are satisfied with the marketplace”. Skopje Alexander the Great Airport is Wizz Air’s busiest hub in the former Yugoslavia with 557.376 passengers handled last year. The airline will introduce five new routes from the Macedonian capital this summer and base a third aircraft in the city. Mr. Varadi rebuffed claims that the budget airline could face problems from the European Commission for subsidies it receives from the Macedonian government to maintain part of its operations from the country. “Financial support is provided on a transparent basis through public tenders. We are fine and we have no issues with Brussels”, the CEO said. Last year, Pristina Airport announced it would lodge a complaint with the European Commission against Skopje Airport over what it says are “incentives which have created unfair competition in the region”.
The low cost airline also hopes to conclude talks with Sarajevo Airport. As reported yesterday, Wizz Air’s CEO directly blamed high fees for the carrier’s absence from the city. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, the budget carrier was close to announcing flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital late last year, however, talks between the two sides broke down in the final stages. Despite problems with Sarajevo, the airline is “highly excited for Bosnia and Herzegovina” and hopes to replicate its success in Tuzla across the country. Wizz Air will base an aircraft at Tuzla Airport this June and launch four new destinations.
As of this summer, Wizz Air will have three bases in the former Yugoslavia – Skopje, Belgrade and Tuzla – and will maintain flights to Ljubljana, Niš, Ohrid and Split as well. The airline recently brought forward the launch of its Basel - Niš service by a week. The flights will now commence on June 29. Wizz Air has previously said it is happy with booking numbers on the route as it sold 350 tickets during the first month of sales. The airline will maintain two weekly flights between the two cities and launch services between Malmo and Niš as well.