Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has identified Budapest, Sofia and Thessaloniki airports as its primary competitors in the region in the coming years and no longer sees the likes of Zagreb and Sarajevo as its main rivals, according to General Manager, Saša Vlaisavljević. The airport is investing heavily in its infrastructure to make it more competitive against its counterparts and unlike others in the former Yugoslavia handles a significant number of transfer passengers. "As an example, in 2015 Belgrade Airport had a greater profit margin than several others in the region combined (Sofia, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Tirana and Zagreb). All of our projects are financed from our own funds without a single loan being taken out. This year we completed work on a de-icing platform which is not a common feature at European airports, giving our customers significant benefits. We are equipped to better handle emergency situations because we have what others don't in this area. It's already happening and we are being selected over other airports in the region because we offer the latest equipment and technology", Mr Vlaisaljvević notes.
Last year, Belgrade Airport saw its number of transfer passengers increase by half a million and this upward trend has continued into 2016. "Air Serbia has made a significant impact on our business. We have an excellent relationship with the airline, which has no debts owed towards us. This wasn't the case with Jat. One of the most important events was the resumption of transatlantic flights to the United States. This gave the airport an excellent opportunity to position itself in this part of Europe as the most important transfer point", the General Manager says. He adds that the airport is estimated to record at least 26 million euros in profit this year, its best on record, and a significant improvement from just 115.000 euros in 2013.
Nearby airports in the region have also been growing at a rapid pace. Thanks in-part to the battle between low cost rivals Wizz Air and Ryanair, Sofia Airport has seen 20% passenger growth so far this year and is now neck-and-neck with its traditionally busier counterpart in Belgrade. However, closer to home, the development of Niš Airport as Serbia's main low cost hub has also attracted a number of passengers from the country who had previously used Belgrade as their point of departure. "Our relationship with Niš Airport is based on cooperation. We have donated equipment and provided financial assistance to Constantine the Great Airport on numerous occasions. Developing secondary airports throughout Serbia is extremely important for our country and its citizens, as it boosts the number of tourists, business travellers and the local economy. A total of five low cost airlines currently operate services to Belgrade (Wizz Air, easyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Flydubai and Pegasus Airlines, as well as Germanwings and Vueling on a seasonal summer basis. The best example that low cost airlines recognise Belgrade Airport's potential is that Wizz Air will launch a number of new routes next May, while Transavia will introduce flights from Amsterdam", Mr Vlaisavljević concludes.