Europe's largest low cost operator, Ryanair, which last week announced its entry onto the Serbian market with the introduction of flights from Berlin to Niš in September, says it is considering new routes to the city for the 2017 summer season. "We are in the process of determining our schedule for next summer. Now that we have opened the doors to Niš, it makes it easier to expand. It will be something that we will discuss over the coming months", the airline's Route Manager, Luis Fernandez-Mellado, says. He notes that Niš is an appealing destination for Ryanair hubs which already sport an extensive network and are now looking to be linked with regional secondary cities, such was the case with Berlin.
The no frills carrier says that once it introduces a new city to its destination network, it looks to follow up with the addition of several routes. However, the airline notes that it has made no definitive decision concerning its future operations in Niš. "We are starting with this new route and are on the lookout for new opportunities", Mr Fernandez-Mellado adds. Ryanair expects to handle 30.000 passengers on its flights from the German capital to the south-east Serbian city within a year. Furthermore, the carrier says it opted to launch services to Niš following fourteen months of negotiations and as a result of low fees at Constantine the Great Airport. Low cost rival Wizz Air, which runs services from Basel and Malmo to Niš, and will introduce flights from Dortmund later this summer, says it welcomes competition in the city and will continue developing its own operations.
For comparisons sake, Ryanair entered the Montenegrin market in 2013 with flights from Charleroi to Podgorica. They were followed by the introduction of services from London a year later, which will be complemented with a new route from Berlin this September. Following an evaluation of the market, Niš Airport's General Manager, Vladica Djurdjanović, says the airport is seeking links to Rome, Turin, Paris, Thessaloniki and Malta. "Carriers have been informed of this. Once an airline determines that an average cabin load factor of over 90% can be reached on any particular route, it will launch it", Mr Djurdjanović notes. Constantine the Great Airport welcomed 36.258 passengers in 2015. It anticipates handling some 100.000 travellers this year.