Low cost airline Wizz Air will base a second plane, an Airbus A320, and open four new routes from Belgrade in mid-May 2017. New destinations include Friedrichshafen, Nuremberg, Hannover and Malta. All will operate on a year-round basis, twice per week. Furthermore, it will boost frequencies on services to Dortmund, Endhoven, Gothenburg, Memmingen and Stockholm Skavsta by adding an additional weekly flight. Speaking at a press conference in Belgrade, Wizz Air's CEO, Jozsef Varadi, said, “We are back in Belgrade after some turbulence. We are seeing significant demand for low cost flying in the country. We decided to deploy one more aircraft in Belgrade, our second Airbus A320 jet, that will be here in May. It is a significant investment of around 100 million dollars. It will create 36 new jobs”. As a result, Wizz will offer 642.000 seats from the Serbian capital in 2017. “This is the right stepping stone forward in this market which is unpenetrated. We are reacting to the increased level of demand”, Mr Varadi said.
Wizz Air's Belgrade expansion will come three years after it decided to significantly slash its operations from the city following a public spat over fees. This resulted in the airline relocating one of the two aircraft it had stationed in Belgrade. At the time, the carrier said the city had become one of the most expensive in its netowrk and accused "wannabe monopolists" Air Serbia and Etihad Airways of being behind the surge in fees. Commenting on the matter, Wizz Air's CEO said today, “The airport charges are still high but the situation has changed. Over the last three years overall traffic has gone up 35%. Given the stronger than expected demand we decided that, despite the high airport charges , we would expand. Should the charges come down we would do much more”.
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Wizz Air faces direct competition only on one of its four new routes from Belgrade, that being Malta. The budget airline will compete against Air Serbia, although the Serbian carrier maintains the service only on a seasonal summer basis, whereas Wizz will operate it throughout the year. Wizz Air has expanded its operation across the former Yugoslavia this year. On top of its new flights from Belgrade and Niš this year, it has introduced three new routes from Skopje and two from Podgorica. The airline recently said it has plans to commence services to Sarajevo in the near future while continuing to maintain its base in Tuzla. Furthermore, the no frills carrier is in talks with Pristina Airport. In addition, Wizz will launch a new route each from Skopje and Tuzla later this year.
This afternoon Wizz Air's CEO and its CCO will be in Tuzla and are set to announce the airline's expansion plans from the city.