|Pristina reclaims third busiest airport title in former Yugoslavia|
Pristina Airport has staged a recovery and is once again the third busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia, following a disastrous 2014 which saw it land in fifth place behind Belgrade, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. During the first five months of the year, Kosovo’s main airport handled 557.556 passengers, an increase of 10.3% compared to the same period last year. The collapse of Belle Air Europe in December 2013, which used to handle around 470.000 passengers and close to 30% of the airport’s traffic, had a significant impact on Pristina’s numbers throughout 2014. However, the airport has since launched a subsidy program to encourage airlines to operate more flights to the city and attract new carriers as well.
Swiss International Air Lines and Adria Airways have increased their frequencies to the airport, while Germania has added Bergamo to the list of destinations it serves from Pristina. Furthermore, the Latvian-based Smartlynx Airlines will launch a range of seasonal flights from the city starting June 29. The airline will operate services on behalf of local tour operators to Malmo, Basel, Brussels, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Munich and Memmingen with an Airbus A320 aircraft. Meanwhile, discussions are taking place between the Kosovan and Serbian governments regarding the resumption of flights between Belgrade and Pristina after more than fifteen years. “Both countries have targets to join the European Union, and this will give a good signal that our two nations are leaving the past behind, and looking for a better future”, Driton Hyseni, Pristina Airport’s Slot Coordinator says.
It is estimated that Pristina Airport will continue to record strong passenger growth in the years to come. Visa limitations have resulted in Pristina Airport’s traffic being largely one-way. Some 70% of its passenger structure is composed of the Kosovan diaspora living in Switzerland and Germany. It is expected that visa liberalisation for Kosovans in Schengen countries will come into force in the coming years, which will further stimulate growth at the airport. “Visa liberalisation will make a significant impact and will develop air transport. The people in Kosovo are young, they like to travel, and when they have a chance they will”, Pristina Airport’s Managing Director, Haldun Fırat Kokturk, says.
EX-YU airport performance, January - May