|Hungary to offer incentives for Sarajevo link|
The Hungarian government has announced plans to subsidise flights between Budapest and Sarajevo. It comes after the National Development Ministry initially planned to offer financial support for services from the Hungarian capital to Podgorica, Pristina, Skopje, Sofia and Tirana. However, last week, the government decided against subsidising flights to Sofia after Wizz Air announced it would launch the route later this year. As a result, Sarajevo has been chosen as an alternative. The Development Ministry will soon publish a concession tender in the European Union's Official Journal for interested airlines to operate services to the aforementioned cities. Any carrier registered within the European Union will be eligible to apply for the subsidies, although exact terms and conditions are yet to be released.
According to the ministry, the new routes will help boost trade and tourism. It further adds that financial incentives are being offered since a number of destinations formerly served by the national carrier Malév, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2012, are yet to resume. Malév used to operate daily flights to Sarajevo just prior to its collapse four years ago. Currently, Belgrade remains the only city in the former Yugoslavia with scheduled services to the Hungarian capital, served twice weekly by Belarus' Belavia. The Slovenian Minister for Transport, Peter Gašperšič, said last year that Adria Airways will apply to operate a number of subsidised flights from Budapest but gave no further details. The airline has bases in both Pristina and Tirana.
Budapest Airport says it is sees potential in the Balkan market, particularly within the former Yugoslavia, and is working on establishing better connections to the region. The Managing Director of Budapest Airport, Jost Lammers, says that, compared with the Malév-era, the airport's position has somewhat weakened. "The South Balkan region has not been covered by anyone, although there is significant potential. Travellers can currently only reach Podgorica, Sarajevo, Tirana and other Balkan destinations from Budapest via Vienna or Munich. These connections are missing. A feeder or regional airline would need to operate these flights with a fleet of regional turboprop aircraft of smaller capacity". So far this year, Sarajevo Airport has secured new flights from Sharjah, operated by Air Arabia, which launched last Friday, as well as Qatar Airways, which will inaugurate services from its hub in Doha to the Bosnian capital on September 7. However, Swiss International Air Lines will suspend its flights from Geneva next month, while Czech Airlines has given up on its plans to introduce services to Sarajevo this year.