Belgrade Airport anticipates welcoming a record 5.5 million travellers this year, which would result in an average growth rate of 11% on 2016. General Manager, Saša Vlaisavljević, said, "We are marking 55 years since the airport's opening and we have big aspirations. The management's target is to handle 5.5 million passengers this year". So far in 2017, the airport registered 1.372.230 travellers through its doors, up 11.1% on last year. "In 2016 we handled a record number of passengers, received numerous awards, relaunched transatlantic flights and established cooperation with other airports in the country, as well as throughout the region. According to some estimates, over the next two decades we could reach up to twenty million passengers per year, which is four times more than what we have now", Mr Vlaisavljević noted.
However, the airport has also identified some possible risks for 2017 in its recently published financial report. It lists growing competition at airports across the region, as well as the development of air traffic at other airports in Serbia, which could "potentially result in the redirection of air traffic". During the first quarter Niš Constantine the Great Airport, which will be served by four different airlines this summer, handled 66.220 travellers. Further afield, Sofia Airport has seen its passenger numbers soar 47% during the first three months of the year, overtaking its traditionally busier counterpart in Belgrade, as the battle between low cost giants Wizz Air and Ryanair continues to rage in the Bulgarian capital. Furthermore, seasonality has been identified as an issue.
New carriers to have launched flights to Belgrade this year include Transavia and Atlasglobal, which will be followed by the stationing of a second Wizz Air Airbus A320 aircraft in the Serbian capital on May 19. As a result, four new routes will be launched and frequencies boosted on existing services. Greece's Ellinair will commence new flights from Thessaloniki this summer, while Air Serbia will introduce services to Venice. Unlike last summer, the Serbian carrier is maintaining flights to New York, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Malta from the very start of summer season. Despite decreasing frequencies on several routes, the airline will maintain the same capacity on many of them during the height of summer with the rollout of its new higher-density cabins. In addition, Israeli carriers Israir and Arkia, which commenced operations to Belgrade last winter, are running five and three weekly flights each from Tel Aviv respectively, with the latter deploying the Boeing 757 aircraft on two of three of its weekly services. Meanwhile, easyJet, Lufthansa and LOT Polish Airlines have boosted capacity on their flights to Nikola Tesla Airport. On May 14 and 15, details of the HNA Group's planned service between Beijing and Belgrade are set to be revealed.