|Niš Airport registers strong passenger growth|
Niš Constantine the Great Airport is on course to record one of its busiest years since opening its doors for commercial use in 1986. The airport handled 12.500 passengers by August 20, a significant increase compared to the 1.335 travellers who passed through the terminal in 2014. In July alone, it welcomed almost 7.000 passengers, as a result of Wizz Air's newly launched services from Basel and Malmo. The three weekly flights from each city were only introduced in late June. Previously, the airport had no commercial airlines serving it. Authorities believe that Constantine the Great Airport will handle just over 25.000 passengers by year's end. These are down on the Serbian government's estimates for 50.000 travellers in 2015. Since reopening twelve years ago, Niš has struggled to attract both passengers and airlines. However, 2006 remains the airport's busiest year on record, as it welcomed 35.518 passengers and was served by both Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines.
Wizz Air's low cost flights to Niš have proven popular with consumers. However, the airline will reduce its operations from Malmo to two flights per week starting September 15, as the peak summer demand eases. "At first there were much more incoming passengers, while now there are more outbound travellers", Mladen Stanković, the airport's Ground Handling Manager says. Managing Director, Vladica Djurdjanović, believes the airline will introduce additional routes from the city in 2016. “They are satisfied with the number of passengers and they have announced that maybe from next year there will be additional routes”. Previously, Mr Djudjardjanovic said the no frills carrier is planning on opening a base in Niš in 2016.
Several airlines have shown interest to fly to Niš over the past month, some of which include Montenegro Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and the Croatian start-up Sea Air. City authorities have said that another low cost airline had expressed interest to fly to Niš, but gave up on the idea after the city refused to provide requested subsidies worth 200.000 euros. On the other hand, The Regional Development Agency for Southern Serbia said the airport is in talks with a Spanish low cost carrier over potential flights to the city. The head of the Agency, Aleksandra Lugović, notes the carrier has significant coverage in Western Europe. Niš Airport has contacted over forty airlines following Wizz Air’s successful debut in the south-east Serbian city two months ago.