Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chinese mull Užice Airport takeover


A Chinese conglomerate with investments in aviation and tourism has expressed interest in taking over Užice's Ponikve Airport in Western Serbia. The airport boasts a new passenger terminal but has no commercial traffic. The Chinese company, which has not been named for confidentiality purposes, recorded a turnover of six billion US dollars last year and has a stake in an airline. The interest comes following a visit by a twenty-strong Chinese business delegation to Užice last week. Commenting on the potential takeover of the airport, Linda Wang, who headed the delegation and is also the economic advisor to the Mayor of Užice, said, "We will take the investment proposal for Užice Airport back to Beijing, where it will be analysed by experts. If the project is profitable, talks will continue with the authorities".

Užice Airport is the second in Serbia to boast a new terminal building with little or no traffic. The airport was initially to open for commercial use in August of last year, following the completion of the new passenger terminal. "The runway is 3.100 metres long, of which 2.200 metres have been overhauled. The length is more than enough to accommodate larger aircraft. However, the main problem, and the reason we are still unable to handle any flights, is the lack of a perimeter fence", the General Manager of Užice Airport, Saša Savić, said. A further three million euros are required to complete the work, however, funding issues have delayed the opening until further notice. Local municipalities have called on the government to provide the necessary finances as the airport would boost both tourism and the local economy. "We are trying. We have a development plan, ambitions, big hopes and few resources. We built a terminal to try and bring the airport up to an acceptable standard. We had big plans for 2016 but unfortunately the funds that were promised to complete the runway overhaul and set up a fence never came. We have deferred those plans and now we can just sit and wait to see what will happen", the airport's General Manager said.

The Mayor of Užice, Tihomir Petković, noted that the Chinese have been presented with two investment models, "PPP [Public Private Partnership] is one option, and we are also ready to sell the airport, under the condition that we are given strong guarantees that there will be considerable investment in the entire airport complex". Užice Airport was destroyed during the 1999 NATO bombing. However, the Serbian government and the European Union have jointly invested over one million euros into the creation of a project masterplan, while significant funds were put into the removal of unexploded bombs around the airport's runway. Its control tower was reopened in 2013 following a major overhaul by the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency, while Belgrade Airport also donated funds.

The Užice region is home to some of Serbia's most exported goods. On the other hand, it is also close to several major cities in the former Yugoslavia, with Sarajevo and Belgrade just 118 kilometres away. During the 1996 summer season, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated a two weekly Belgrade - Užice - Tivat service. Over the past few years, small private aircraft have used the airport during the daytime. However, questions have been raised whether Užice Airport will have the same fate as  Kraljevo, in central Serbia, which opened a new modern terminal building in 2012 which has not been used since.

73 comments:

  1. Nice terminal. Hope the Chinese come through.

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    1. They have two nice terminals - one in Uzice and the other in Kraljevo. Too bad both are collecting dust.

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    2. +1 they have built two empty terminals. Better to have invested that money in building one big one in Nis.

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    3. One of these two could definitely attract some traffic.

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  2. Is this company HNA?

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    1. I think their revenue was greater than 6 billion.

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  3. "Linda Wang .... is also the economic advisor to the Mayor of Užice"

    :D

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    1. Well it is a bit weird that a town like Uzice has a Chinese economic adviser.

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    2. She is the Chairman of the Yihai Group.

      Yihai Group learned that the construction of a local kindergarten in Užice was delayed due to lack of funding in 2013 during a visit to Serbia. Yihai Education Group and Beijing Yihai Foundation donated $402,000 through the Chinese Charity Foundation to build the kindergarten, which was opened a few days ago.

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  4. They should make a strategic partnership with Maribor Airporylt and VLM :D

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    1. I agree. It's a chance for both to have nonstop flights to China ;)

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  5. Ne mogu da nabave nekoliko kilometara ograde jaki su.

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  6. It could easily serve as a low cost alternative to Sarajevo.

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    1. True. It is actually closer to Sarajevo than Tuzla.

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    2. I meant to say Sarajevo is closer to Uzice than Tuzla, distance wise.

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    3. Is there a highway between uzice and sarajevo?

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    4. No, but the new highway from Belgrade to Sarajevo will go via Uzice.

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    5. The current road network between Uzice and Sarajevo is poor. Until it is built it can't be a viable alternative to SJJ.

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  7. Serbia is creating nice new terminals which I'm sure a lot of airports across ex-Yu would be happy to have. Unfortunately they are all empty.

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    1. Sooner or later they will get traffic. 2 years ago people thought Nis would have the same fate and look it now.

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  8. Great to see more Chinese investnent.

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    1. Not sure how smart it is to hand all of your airports to the Chinese.

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    2. If it is a way to get you airport infrastructure up and running then why not? Slovenia has privatized all of its airports: Ljubljana - Germany, Maribor - China, Porotorz - Serbia.

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  9. Good. Maybe they do something with the airport. It's the only way the likes of UZC and Maribor can survive.

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  10. If this deal is for real, I say go for it.

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  11. Complete waste of money this airport

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  12. What is Serbia going to do with all these airports?

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    1. Nothing, like we are doing now.

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  13. I didn't even know they have built a terminal building. Looks very decent.

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  14. What about Northern Serbia? Are there any airports there?

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    1. There are airports but they are not commercial. All of northern serbia is sandwiched between Belgrade and Budapest. There is no need for an airport.

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    2. Not even Novi Sad?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novi_Sad_Airport

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  15. Which one has more potential - Kraljevo or Uzice?

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    1. I think UZC has much more potential than Kraljevo Airport.

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    2. Kraljevo is centrally located in Serbia and can serve a greater area.

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    3. Kraljevo, even with INI, LYKV's catchment area is several times bigger than that of UZC (population wise).

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    4. Kraljevo by far!

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  16. What kind of a general manager says "and now we can just sit and wait to see what will happen"?

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  17. Had Air Serbia ever shown interest for flying anywhere outside of Belgrade, these airports could have been operational already.

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  18. Distance between Uzice and Kraljevo?

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    1. wow it's really silly to have two international airports in such close proximity.

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    2. Cacak je najjaci grad posle Stambola i Bukuresta, ima dva aerodroma u susednim selima.

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    3. It doesn't matter, Serbia needs those airports, as soon as possible. 4 airports in total, total coverage.

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  19. The only one that will loose out from the opening of all of these airport is BEG.

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  20. OT: just waiting at SPU to board LX WK flight 449 to ZRH. Nice to see that even in October there is quite some crowd, all seats in Dep Area are occupied and still plenty of flights throughout Europe.
    Greets fm sunny Split

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    1. Just boarded WK 449 which today operated with LX A320. Per MC flight headcount 172 pax

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    2. Looks like Split will have a pretty solid October. Plus 20% I'm thinking.

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    3. I hope so. Check in and Security were very efficient, Airport staff directing people etc. Good job SPU!

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    4. So another month they are going to be ahead of ZAG.

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    5. SPU really had improved this summer in managing and distributing the crowds as much as possible. Particularly the organization of the sec check was much faster and much more efficient compared to the last two years. Check in was also faster but staff is generelly rude. I have flown twice this summer June and August on weekends from and to SPU and was overall impressed. Although there were still big downsides: the waiting area at the gates was bursting each time, I'd say 4-5 people per seat and pax were lying everywhere on the stairs and floors, it was so dirty and horrible in that area. Then just imagine the restroom areas there... Everyone is desperate for the new terminal.

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  21. Uzice is actually a really nice city
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/80/Uzice_pan.jpg/1200px-Uzice_pan.jpg

    It is in a very nice part of the country close to the Tara mountain. With a little bit of investment I am sure some charter flights could be launched out of UZC.

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    1. Imaju veca sela u Kini.

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    2. Па шта ако имају?

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    3. Nemaju aerodrom eto.

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  22. Chinese are investing more and more in Serbia.

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  23. https://media.tenor.co/images/c9658fb4c51878bf72fffb41df197b81/raw

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  24. How long will the runway be or how many runways does Užice have?

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    1. It says in the article

      "The runway is 3.100 metres long, of which 2.200 metres have been overhauled. The length is more than enough to accommodate larger aircraft. However, the main problem, and the reason we are still unable to handle any flights, is the lack of a perimeter fence", the General Manager of Užice Airport, Saša Savić, said.

      Only one runway in UZC

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    2. How much on earth can it cost to put up a new fence, jaysus!?!???

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    3. As a matter of fact, Google says it has one of the longest runways in Europe!!

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  25. This airport could potentially boost the local economy. Hope the Chinese develop it.

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  26. Ima lošiju putnu konekciju nego aerodrom u kraljevu.

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  27. When I see the airport, I wonder how could some state invest in it. Let's face it: Uzice is in the middle of nowhere, tourists are only local ones, and there are already plenty of other options around...

    And then I see the comments of people genuinely believing in it... Grow up, guys, there will never be a market for this, these are not the Austrian Alps, and the era of communist useless plans is over...

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