|Serbia’s ghost airport expected to open next year|
The Serbian government plans to open Kraljevo’s Morava Airport for commercial use by mid-2016. Located in central Serbia, the airport’s terminal building was completed in 2012 but has been closed ever since. According to the Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, “We want the airport to be commercial with scheduled flights. At this point, I cannot say how often or to which destinations these flights will operate to”. Ms Mihajlović noted that a similar model to the one employed at Niš Constantine the Great Airport would be used in Kraljevo as well. “We will do the same in Kraljevo – we will make it profitable without subsidies”. Niš Airport recently reduced its fees to just three euros per passenger, which saw Wizz Air introduce flights from the city.
Construction of Morava Airport began in 2011 with work on a new control tower and access roads. Later on in the year the first promotional flight was operated from Belgrade with Jat Airways’ ATR 72 aircraft. In 2012 a new passenger terminal was opened featuring a duty free shop, exchange office, commercial office space, a detention centre, clinic, car park and a cargo depot. Jat Airways soon after announced it would launch a two weekly service from Kraljevo to Istanbul, however, these never materialised. Since the airport lies between several industrial cities, the government is hopeful the likes of the Italian run Fiat-Zastava car manufacturer would make use of the airport and that further business and investment in the area would be stimulated. In addition, part of the Raška region has close historical ties with Turkey and a portion of the local population is expected to use the airport for future flights to Istanbul.
Minister Mihajlović believes that flights from Kraljevo would accelerate the region’s development. “Serbia has a central, transit and important hub in Belgrade, which is now especially significant in regards to future flights to the United States. However, we must have several smaller airports if we want to develop our tourism industry. It is much better to arrive at your destination by plane”, she said. In April, the Serbian government announced it was willing to enter into a public private partnership agreement with a German company which would operate flights from Kraljevo to both Frankfurt and Istanbul. The name of the company was not specified. “I’m certain that all preparations for the first flight will be completed soon. Morava Airport is vital for the entire region”, Ms Mihajlović concluded.