|From Novi Sad to Štip, EX-YU countries plan for new airports|
Countries across the former Yugoslavia have invested significant resources in financing local airport projects in a bid to boost regional tourism and stimulate local economies. However, the financial viability of such projects has been brought into question. Bihać in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the latest to join a growing list of cities, which include Novi Sad and Užice in Serbia, Nikšić in Montenegro, Rab in Croatia and Štip in Macedonia, to present their plans to develop local airports. Millions have already been invested in feasibility studies, environmental risk evaluations and the creation of state-run enterprises tasked with managing these non-existent airports. The fear is they will end up like the infamous Trebinje Airport, in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 820.000 euros was invested into project documentation for a 2.6 kilometre runway and a terminal capable of handling 260.000 passengers per year, only for local authorities to give up on the idea two years later after naming the airport's Managing Director and paying for an Austrian consultant to identify potential routes. On the other hand, some of the projects could get built only to end up like Kraljevo's Morava Airport, in central Serbia, which boasts a brand new terminal but no flights or passengers.
Earlier this month, the municipal council in Bihać, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, approved the creation of a public operator for Bihać Airport (JP Aerodrom Bihać). Amir Beganović has been appointed as acting CEO with the local government seeking to develop the existing airfield into a commercial airport. The municipality will invest some one million euros, in cooperation with a Turkish partner, to develop the airport. Furthermore, local authorities hope to receive additional funding from the Federal government. Bihać would become Bosnia and Herzegovina's fifth international airport following Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Banja Luka, which handled a record 1.081.134 passengers over the past eleven months.
|Novi Sad Airport|
The government of Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina has announced plans to develop Novi Sad’s sports and agriculture airport into a commercial one, despite it being only seventy kilometres north of the capital Belgrade. According to plans set out by the local government, the airport will cater for low cost flights, general aviation as well cargo flights. The design of the new terminal has been completed and is similar in size to Tivat. The Prime Minister of Vojvodina, Bojan Pajtić, says the project will likely be financed through a public-private partnership with an investor already identified. In 2004, the private charter airline Di Air, from Montenegro, operated a promotional service from Tivat to Novi Sad with some twenty passengers on board the L-410 Turbolet aircraft. According to a state study, out of all the airports in Serbia, the one in Novi Sad experiences the least fog affected days. According to the government, three million euros will be invested into developing the airport.
Millions have been provided so far for the redevelopment of Užice Airport, in western Serbia, which was devastated during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. The Serbian government and the European Union have jointly invested over one million euros into the creation of a project masterplan, while significant funds were raised several years ago at a donors' conference for the removal of mines around the airport's runway. "Once we complete the overhaul of the 3.100 metre runway, than all aircraft will be able to use the airport", the Managing Director of Užice Airport, Saša Savić, said last week. Local authorities hope for the airport to be used for charter and cargo flights. The region is home to some of Serbia's most exported goods. However, it is also close to several major former Yugoslav cities, with Sarajevo and Belgrade just 118 kilometres away. During the 1996 summer season, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated a two weekly Belgrade - Užice - Tivat service. The entire redevelopment and construction project is valued at nineteen million euros.
Montenegro is preparing to open its third international airport next year, in the town of Nikšić, in the country’s west. Over 1.6 million euros have been invested in the airport’s redevelopment since work began in 2012. Local authorities have contributed several thousand euros for the construction of two taxiways and two aprons, while 85% of the finances were provided by the European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. The airport’s runway, which is 1.450 meters long, can accommodate smaller general aviation aircraft, as well as regional planes such as the ATR. Currently, work is being carried out on the construction of a control tower, lighting system and a small terminal building. Local authorities hope to operate the airport jointly with a private enterprise through a public-private partnership agreement. Nikšić Airport was built seventy years ago and was used primarily for pilot training. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, it fell into disuse. Prior to its redevelopment, the airport already featured a single taxiway as well as a hangar.
Rab Island, located off Croatia’s north-western coastline is likely to become the sight of the country’s tenth commercial airport. A total of 800.000 euros have been spent on various surveys and environmental impact reviews of the future airport sight, all of which have been financed through the European Union's Pre-Accession Assistance Funds. According to preliminary plans, the airport will be used for both domestic and international flights and will feature a 1.700 metre long and 45 metre wide runway. In addition, it will have the ability to accommodate aircraft with a capacity to seat up to 150 passengers. According to local authorities, the airport could handle over 200.000 passengers per year with some 50.000 arriving from the European Union and a further 75.000 travellers from Russia and the Far East. Rab Airport will also be able to handle cargo traffic and will feature hangars and pilot training facilities. The airport will also offer parking, which will be able accommodate 500 vehicles, a first aid and fire bridge service, customs, duty free and other facilities in line with international standards. However, concerns have been raised over the airport’s viability. Rab is sandwiched in between Rijeka and Lošinj airports, the latter of which is struggling to attract larger-volume traffic itself.
The operator of Macedonia's two international airports, Turkey's TAV, is still considering whether to build a cargo terminal in Štip, in the country's north-east as outlined in the concession agreement with the Macedonian government several years ago. Under the agreement, the cargo airport should be completed by 2020. TAV Holding CEO, Sani Sener, said last year that the company is ready to start construction promptly after receiving the inspection results on air currents and wind directions. The construction of the cargo airport has been delayed for several years because experts have not completed the meteorology study on wind currents in the Štip and Sveti Nikole region. This study should show what would be the ideal and safest location to build a runway and whether the region is suitable for such an airport.