|Banja Luka Airport eyes low cost flights|
Banja Luka Airport is in talks with several low cost airlines over the launch of potential flights to the city. The head of the Aerodromi Republike Srpske airport operator, Miroslav Janjić, says, “We are in talks. At the moment we can not speculate on whether they will result in an agreement but we will continue to hold talks and offer necessary economic and financial support”. Mr. Janjić notes that discussions with low cost airlines are much more “complicated, difficult and will last longer” than those with traditional full fare carriers. The head of the operator did not wish to specify the names of the no frills companies which are currently negotiating with the airport but added, “Talks are being held and we will look to finalise them soon”.
Banja Luka Airport has struggled to attract airlines and sustainable routes for years. It is currently served only by B&H Airlines, which maintains flights to Zurich, and Air Serbia, which runs services from Belgrade, although the number of flights have been reduced from daily last summer to five services per week this year. Since 2013, the airport has been in drawn out negotiations with Wizz Air. Two years ago, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure of the Entity of Republika Srpska, Nedeljko Čubrilović, commented on the talks with Wizz Air by saying, “Unfortunately we were unable to agree to the terms set by the airline. It’s not as it looks. They aren’t coming here to give us anything, they want to come here to take something. During the talks they were very difficult over handling prices so we would not benefit from them in any single way”. On this occasion, Wizz Air did not wish to confirm whether they have again entered talks with Banja Luka Airport. However, the low cost airline, which will open a base in Tuzla this June, recently told EX-YU Aviation News, “Wizz Air is very well suited for that environment. The country [Bosnia and Herzegovina] is absolutely right for our business plan. We are highly excited for Bosnia and Herzegovina and hope to replicate the success in Tuzla across the country”.
Over the past few years, Banja Luka Airport has been in talks with several other airlines, such as Aegean from Greece and Austrian over potential flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city. Late last year, the Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina said, "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”. Austrian ran services to Banja Luka during the 1990s. Switzerland’s Edelweiss Air initially announced flights to the city from July this year but then suspended ticket sales only two months later. Edelweiss was to operate services from Zurich with an Airbus A320, each Monday and Friday.