The Minister for Transport and Communications in the government of the entity of Republika Srpska, which forms part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nedjo Trninić, has ruled out the possibility of low cost carriers (LCC) commencing services to Banja Luka Airport. His statements are in contrast to those made by the airport's management who view Bosnia and Herzegovina's second largest city as a future "regional low cost hub". "We can cooperate with no frills carriers but we are burdened by other issues which are not to be made public. Low cost carriers are not our future. We are more focused on serious airlines to whom we can offer fair conditions", Mr Trninić said. He criticised Tuzla Airport, which acts as a base for Wizz Air, noting, "At Tuzla Airport they survive on donations made by the Cantnon and Federal governments. We are not interested in such things. Tuzla Airport would not be in operation if it were not for subsidies".
Currently, Air Serbia is Banja Luka Airport's only customer, maintaining three weekly flights from Belgrade. B&H Airlines, which ran operations between Banja Luka and Zurich, suspended all flights in June last year. Earlier in 2015, Edelweiss Air, a Swiss International Air Lines subsidiary, was to launch flights from Zurich to Bosnia and Herzegovina's second largest city, however, it suspended ticket sales shortly after publicising the new route. "We must offer passengers both attractive and scheduled routes because the population is big enough for the airport to function properly and develop in the right direction", Mr Trninić noted. "Low cost airlines are very demanding in terms of subsidies and airports do not benefit from them", he added.
Banja Luka Airport began talks with low cost airline Wizz Air over potential flights in 2013, however, negotiations have since collapsed. The Entity Minister for Transport at the time, Nedeljko Čubrilović, said, “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”. Banja Luka Airport recently unveiled a 3.1 million euro expansion of its passenger terminal and the construction of a new cargo facility, which should commence in 2017. The main focus of the future project is the new cargo storage unit. "With these investments, the airport will become more competitive and we will be able to talk with interested carriers. We will then have an opportunity to increase our passenger numbers and we will specially focus on cargo traffic. Banja Luka will be of interest to many airlines", Mr Trninić concluded. The airport handled 19.152 passengers during the January - October period, down 4% on last year.