Budget airline Wizz Air was the only carrier to apply for subsidies offered by the Hungarian National Development Ministry for services from Budapest to Podgorica, Pristina, Sarajevo and Skopje, local media reports. Furthermore, the state will sponsor flights to Tirana. The ministry says the four-year contract could be signed as early as this summer with flights likely to begin during the winter months. If the airline incurs losses on services to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, it can seek compensation from the Hungarian government. Tender procedures to select the operating carrier for the abovementioned routes was launched on April 25 and closed this Wednesday.
According to the tender requirements, the operating airline must maintain services on each route at least twice per week, the average age of its fleet cannot exceed eight years during the duration of the contract, it must be registered within the European Union, it must have at least one Hungarian speaking crew member on board and the aircraft used must have the capacity to seat at least thirty passengers. The flights will be financed from EU funds. Although Wizz Air meets all of the said requirements, late last year the Slovenian government noted that Adria Airways, which has a number of bases outside its home country, was likely to apply for the subsidised services as well.
The Hungarian Development Ministry believes the new routes will help boost trade and tourism. In addition, Budapest Airport says it is sees potential in the Balkan market, particularly within the former Yugoslavia. The Managing Director of Budapest Airport, Jost Lammers, said, "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". Wizz Air recently announced its entry onto the Montenegrin market with two routes to be launched to Podgorica later this summer. Furthermore, the no frills carrier is in talks with both Sarajevo and Pristina airports over potential services. On the other hand, the airline already boasts an impressive network out of Skopje with three aircraft based in the city. Malév used to operate double daily flights to Pristina, thirteen weekly services to Skopje, daily flights to Sarajevo and six weekly services to Podgorica just prior to its collapse four years ago.