Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport saw its passenger numbers decline during the first quarter of the year primarily as a result of Air Serbia and its reduced operations, the airport's Q1 report shows. On the other hand, the busiest foreign carriers recovered following a year of declining figures.
According to Belgrade Airport, Air Serbia handled 431.067 passengers on flights to and from the city, down 6.7% compared to the same period last year. The airline's passenger share at the airport stood at 49.6% during the three-month period, down from 52% in 2015. During Q1, the Serbian carrier operated 8% fewer flights, the airport says. Air Serbia cancelled its operations to Budapest and Larnaca last October and reduced services to a number of destinations over the winter period, which ran until the end of March. The airline's CEO, Dane Kondić, has defended the decision saying in a previous interview, "Flying empty aircraft over the winter just to keep a schedule is crazy. So, last winter we had two years of experience behind us, meaning to say that we had two summers and two winters, and therefore we knew exactly where the pain points were in the network. As we have progressed on our journey, what has been critical has been focus on profitable operations. The prime goal was to take out capacity to therefore boost our load factors". He added, "We have had far more profitable operations - load factor increase of 4 - 5%, yield increases of about 9 - 10% and RASK (Revenue per Air Seat Kilometre) improvement of almost 20%. By any measure, I think it was a fairly smart, wise and good move".
According to Belgrade Airport, Air Serbia's busiest route was Zurich, which saw strong growth when compared to Q1 2015. The airline welcomed 42.471 passengers on the service, up 21.6% on last year. It was followed by flights to Paris, Podgorica, Amsterdam and Moscow. Despite the dip in numbers, Air Serbia continues to maintain its position as the busiest national carrier in the former Yugoslavia, ahead of Croatia Airlines, which welcomed 315.566 passengers, Adria Airways with 198.084 travellers, and Montenegro Airlines, which handled 84.667 passengers. Air Serbia's figures are expected to bounce back during the second quarter with the launch of five new routes, including its first transatlantic service, and increase in frequencies across the network.
Belgrade Airport's second busiest airline, Wizz Air, continued with its recovery, which began in the fourth quarter of 2015 following almost two years of declining numbers. The no frills carrier handled 87.531 travellers on flights to and from the Serbian capital during the first three months of the year, up 4.2%. The figure was achieved despite the airline operating only five flights more than last year. It's passenger share stood at 10%. Lufthansa's and Montenegro Airlines' numbers rose 2.1%, while Turkish Airlines' passenger figures increased 8.7%. Between January and April, Belgrade Airport saw 1.235.349 passengers use its services, a decrease of 2.7% compared to the same period last year. It recorded a net profit of four million euros, as well as revenue of 14.8 million euros during the first quarter of the year - its best to date.
Busiest carriers at Belgrade Airport Q1
|Air Serbia||431.067||▼ 6.7|
|Wizz Air||87.531||▲ 4.2|
|Montenegro Airlines||49.766||▲ 2.1|
|Turkish Airlines||40.033||▲ 8.7|