Wizz Air is set to commence services from Budapest to a number of cities in the former Yugoslavia next year after it secured subsidies for the flights from the Hungarian National Development Ministry several months ago. Sarajevo Airport has confirmed that Wizz Air will begin operations between the two capital cities in the spring of 2017. Flights to Podgorica, Pristina and Skopje are also set to follow. If the airline incurs losses on its routes 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 services was launched in April. The no frills carrier was the only airline to apply.
Under 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, 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. The Hungarian Development Ministry believes the new routes, which will run under a four-year contract, will help boost trade and tourism. According to local media reports, both Austrian Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines were invited to take part in the tender, however, Austrian refused to partake after learning of the tender requirements, while LOT passed the opportunity as it was certain in a Wizz victory.
Budapest Airport says it is sees potential in the Balkan market, particularly within the former Yugoslavia. The General Manager of Budapest Airport, Jost Lammers, recently 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". The Hungarian national carrier, Malév, once operated 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. Belgrade is currently the only capital city in the former Yugoslavia with direct links to Budapest. The route is maintained by Belarus' national carrier Belavia.