Swiss International Air Lines will launch flights between Zurich and Niš in south-eastern Serbia from April 2, 2017. The company will be the only full fare airline serving the city, joining Wizz Air and Ryanair which currently operate low cost flights to Constantine the Great Airport. Services from Zurich to Niš will operate twice per week, each Friday and Sunday. Initially, flights will run with a mix of the carrier's brand new 125-seat Bombardier CS100 aircraft and the 168-seat Airbus A320 jet. However, from May 27 all flights will be operated by the A320. Swiss noted that the new service to Niš will further strengthen its presence in the Balkans. The airline faces no direct competition on the route, although Wizz Air maintains operations from Niš to Basel, which is some ninety kilometres north-west of Zurich.
Swiss downsized its operations to the former Yugoslavia this year by suspending flights from Zurich to Ljubljana, Zagreb and Sarajevo, as well as its services from Geneva to Skopje. Switzerland has for years been considered one of the most profitable markets from Niš. Both Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines operated services from Constantine the Great Airport to Zurich between 2004 and 2006. Montenegro Airlines attempted to resume the route on several occasions but was knocked back by Swiss authorities, which refused to issue fifth freedom rights to the carrier. More recently, Darwin Airline, now known as Etihad Regional, operated services from both Zurich and Geneva to Niš but its pricey tickets failed to attract passengers. A considerable number of Serbian immigrants in Switzerland hail from Serbia’s south-east.
Niš Airport estimates handling some 100.000 passengers this year and for the figure to grow to 300.000 by the end of 2017. The airport, which had no commercial flights just over a year ago, is now served by both Wizz Air and Ryanair after lowering its fees to just three euros for handling, landing and passenger services. "All those who were concerned that there wouldn't be enough travellers were mistaken, because the airport is used not only by locals, but also by people from other parts of Serbia, as well as Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo", the airport's General Manager, Vladica Djurdjanović, said recently. During the January – October period, Constantine the Great Airport welcomed a record 81.723 passengers compared to the 36.258 travellers handled during the whole of 2015.
Flight details for the new Zurich - Niš service can be found here.