|Niš Airport expected to surpass 2006 passenger record|
Niš Constantine the Great Airport expects to handle over 35.000 passengers this year, making it the busiest in the airport's history. It comes just several months after the low cost carrier Wizz Air launched services from Malmo and Basel to the south-east Serbian city, becoming the only airline to maintain scheduled commercial flights to the airport. Managing Director, Vladica Djurdjanović, says Niš welcomed over 25.000 passengers during the past four months, with Wizz Air recording an average cabin load factor of over 80% on its two routes. "We expect this trend to continue in the coming months. This is just the beginning and we are extremely satisfied", Mr Djurdjanović notes. Previously, local authorities said Wizz Air is likely to introduce flights from Memmingem to Niš in 2016 and could even open its own base in the city.
Niš Airport also hopes to attract carriers other than Wizz. In an agreement with the low cost airline, the airport's passenger tax will be kept at just three euros until 2018, which could be appealing to other operators as well. Niš is primarily targeting airlines serving cities such as Frankfurt, London, Milan, Munich, Moscow, Paris, Vienna, Verona and Venice, which the airport has identified as viable destinations. Furthermore, it is believed flights from Istanbul could launch as early as next spring, since a Turkish carrier has expressed strong interest to operate the route. In July it was confirmed that Pegasus Airlines had requested additional information and general terms from the airport. According to Mr Djurdjanović, the airline has been provided with all of the requested documentation and Pegasus is in the process of analysing the data.
One of Niš's main challenges in attracting foreign carriers is the lack of a category one instrument landing system (ILS), which provides guidance to aircraft approaching and landing on a runway during low ceilings or reduced visibility due to fog, rain or snow. The Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA), which manages the airspace of both countries, is expected to install the equipment at the airport by 2017. In the meantime, equipment for measuring the runway visual range (RVR), which aids the pilot during limited visibility, will be used. "The airport does not have an ILS CAT 1 which is extremely important for airlines and we are working on installing the it by 2017, as promised to Wizz Air and other airlines. This investment is worth some two million euros. All matters negotiated with Wizz Air have been delivered on so far", Mr Djurdjanović concludes. Earlier this week, Niš Airport launched its new-look website.