Ryanair rejects Serbian offer

The Serbian government has often been criticised for not providing enough competition in the airline industry in order for it to protect its airline Jat Airways. Although one can debate this as the Serbian government provides minimal funding for its national airline, Jat has claimed for the last few years that it has no special status and that it is unlikely for low cost airlines to begin services to Serbia as the market has not developed yet. Lately low cost airline such as Germanwings and Norwegian Air Shuttle have begun services to Belgrade with lines to Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart, Oslo and Stockholm. The Serbian Civil Aviation Board recently offered the worlds largest low cost airline Ryanair slots at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport however the low cost airline rejected the offer saying the market does not have enough potential yet. The airline requested that if it were to start services the Serbian government would have to invest thousands of Euros in its promotion. The biggest problem, which is keeping low cost airline away from Serbia, are visa restrictions for travel to EU nations imposed on Serbian citizens. Citizens often have to wait months before their visa applications are approved. When this obstacle is overcome (expected to occur in late 2008) it is expected that the Serbian aviation industry will grow by at least 30%.

Best examples that the Serbian aviation industry is not ready for a low cost airline are previous unsuccessful attempts. The first Serbian low cost airline Centavia lasted only a month before it went bankrupt. Air Maxi, which planned to establish itself in Serbia as a low cost airline and begin operations decided not to midway through its processes of gaining a license. The national airline, Jat Airways, also planned a creation of its own low cost subsidiary to have been name Interlink however it also decided not to. Belgrade Airport is currently served by 19 scheduled airlines with 2 scheduled low cost airlines operating flights.