Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is upbeat on its future prospects and plans to handle over five million passengers, overhaul its runway and welcome more scheduled long haul flights during 2017. General Manager, Saša Vlasaivljević, says that, in addition to the ongoing reconstruction of Terminal 1, the installation of 28 new check-in desks, as well as a new automated baggage handling system, to be completed by April 2017, the airport will also commence work on upgrading its runway. "Traffic will not be disrupted during this period because we will undertake the overhaul in the most risky but modern way, similar to what the airports in Frankfurt and Zurich have done. Work will be carried out between midnight and 05.00 in the morning. This sort of reconstruction is the most demanding", Mr Vlaisavljević told the "Novi Magazin" weekly. He added, "Currently, Chisinau Airport is undertaking a similar project and we will send our teams to review the work being done there".
According to the General Manager, other infrastructure projects pencilled in for 2017 include the overhaul of a further four departure gates, the last to be upgraded at the airport, the opening of an observation deck and the expansion of Terminal 2. Originally planned for 2015, the expansion of the Terminal 2 building, which would involve the construction of an additional eight gates, including four air bridges, has been constantly delayed. Belgrade Airport will handle a record number of travellers this year but will come short of the five million passenger mark. However, with Wizz Air and Transavia having already announced new flights to the city next year, the figure is expected to be surpassed in 2017. Furthermore, two cities in China are likely to be linked with Belgrade next year.
Meanwhile, the Serbian government is convinced that it will strike a deal for a 25-year airport concession in 2017. The country's Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, said last week, "Tender procedures will be opened, and I think we could get a concession agreement for 25 years as a result of the good job done by Air Serbia and the management of Nikola Tesla Airport". Mr Vučić reiterated that the government prefers a 25-year concession rather than an outright privatisation. A concession would bring a one-off payment of up to 400 million euros, plus an annual fee of eleven million euros to the state, the PM pointed out. He added that the government has not reached a firm decision on the matter. The airport's privatisation advisor will decide on the most suitable sale model within the next two to three months.