Banja Luka Airport is aiming to become a regional hub for low cost carriers after agreeing to a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, which is yet to be approved by state authorities. The two sides will draft a joint plan to develop air traffic at Banja Luka Airport, which is currently served solely by Air Serbia. In a statement, Belgrade Airport said, "The future strategic partnership, which will focus primarily on infrastructure development and further commercialisation, will allow for Banja Luka Airport to become a regional destination for low cost airlines, keeping in mind its favourable location and weather conditions".
Banja Luka Airport has been unsuccessful in its bid to find new customers despite talks with several low cost airlines over the years. The airport says negotiations with budget carriers are generally more "complicated, difficult and extensive", as they require financial backing. Since 2013, the airport has been in drawn out negotiations with Wizz Air. Two years ago, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure of the Entity of Republika Srpska, Nedeljko Čubrilović, commented on the talks with Wizz Air by saying, “Unfortunately we were unable to agree to the terms set by the airline. It’s not as it looks. They aren’t coming here to give us anything, they want to come here to take something. During negotiations they were very difficult over handling prices so we would not benefit from them in any single way”.
Air Serbia launched flights between the Serbian capital and Banja Luka in December 2013. The service, which is codeshared by Air Berlin, Alitalia and Etihad Airways, is operated five times per week. The Serbian airline is Banja Luka's only customer since B&H Airlines, which ran flights from the city to Zurich, suspended all operations in June last year. During the first four months of 2016, Banja Luka Airport handled 5.308 passengers, a decrease of 17.1%. Over the years, the airport has been in talks with several carriers including Aegean Airlines, Austrian and Edelweiss Air. Despite a decline in passenger numbers in 2015, the operator of Banja Luka Airport, Aerodromi Republike Srpske, saw its net profit double to 144.000 euros last year. Operating income rose 15.3%, while costs were down 6.3%. In late 2015 the operator took out a 3.5 million euro loan to finance part of the expansion of its terminal building and the construction of new cargo facilities. The operator noted that a strategic partner would have to be found in order for the expansion project to be finalised, with Belgrade Airport interested in taking part.