Sarajevo terminal expansion on hold

Sarajevo Airport complex
The expansion of Sarajevo Airport’s passenger terminal is on hold due to unresolved land ownership issues around the airport, a problem most major hubs in the former Yugoslavia face today. The multi million Euro project involves the expansion of the terminal building, aprons and jet ways. On top of the existing 10.000 square meter terminal building, another 7.000 square metres will be added. The project is being financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the tune of 32 million Euros. A Dutch firm has been awarded the assignment to develop a final design for the terminal expansion. While the airport is still functioning effectively, capacity constraints are starting to emerge with security and duty free facilities in need of expansion.

While the finances have been secured and the design plan completed, there are problems with getting necessary permits to expand onto nearby land plots. Construction has been waiting to start for almost a year, however, a slow bureaucratic process has stalled the entire project.

Sarajevo Airport continues to show strong passenger growth. In the first 5 months of 2011, the airport handled 211.736 passengers, with a 10% end of year growth rate expected. Last year, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s main hub handled 563.266 passengers. The airport’s CEO, Bakir Karahasanović, recently said, “The extension of the terminal building will not only solve future development necessities of Sarajevo International Airport, but will also enable provision of top quality services to passengers, while the airport, as a whole, will contribute to a better image of the country “.


  1. Anonymous10:30

    Sarajevo airport is not a big airport, but definitely on of the best in Ex Yu I have flown to/from. Hope it wil get what it deserves as soon as possible.

  2. OT

    Today marked the official beginning of the construction work for the brand new terminal at Prishtina International Airport. The ground works started a few weeks ago though.

    For all those interested, see link to Koha Ditore article:,3,62045 (non-Albanian speaking readers can use Google Translate).

  3. Anonymous23:37

    I can't understand, how come Pristina is getting a new terminal, and Sarajevo is not? Sarajevo has way more potential then Pristina, Pristina no offense to anyone is a not a tourist hot stop

  4. @Countdown to Sochi
    Prishtina International Airport (PRN) last year had over 1.3 millions passengers. That's more than double the total number of passengers that Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ) had. As an interesting fact, so far this (first five months of the) year more passengers have passed through PRN than Ljubljana Airport (LJU). So, let the numbers do the talking rather than your perception what is a tourist hot spot or not.

    I say let both PRN and SJJ have new terminals ;)

  5. Visit Kosovo,

    I would not get too excited over these numbers. Yes, Pristina is doing well but both Bosnia and Slovenia have something Pristina doesn't have, a national carrier. There is only so much growth an airport can have without a based carrier.
    That is why in the long-run both Ljubljana and Sarajevo have more chances of growth.
    The results in Pristina are just the result of years of neglect.

    Not to mention that both Slovenia and Bosnia have a totally stable political structure, both internally and externally. Another thing that can't be said for the area where Pristina is located.

    As for the perception what is a tourist spot and what isn't, his perception about AP Kosovo is correct.

  6. Nemjee.

    what difference does having a "national carrier" make? Most national carriers in the balkans are basket cases. No successful countries have a "national carrier". What a weird throw-back idea.

  7. Doot,

    So what if they are basket cases? No matter how bad they are still are the biggest operators at their home airports. If JU or OU would fold a large void would be left and passenger numbers would fall.

    Yes, a lot of foreign carriers would add capacity but that still would not be enough. So the passenger numbers at PRN will rise only to a certain point when they would become stable and we would see a small rise of 2% to 5% on annual base.

  8. Does France have a "national carrier"?

    Does Germany?

    The the USA?


    All of these are private companies owned by shareholders.

    I'm not sure how anything you said backs up what you said earlier. It seems like you're saying a national carrier makes an airport more vulnerable

    You're just trying to make a lame, underhanded dig against Kosovo's sovereign status

  9. France and Germany do not have but both Air France and Lufthansa are acting as defacto national carriers.

    And it seems to me that you are using every opportunity to bash and trash Serbia just because you are one of the few foreigners incapable of accomodation to the life in Belgrade.
    It seems to me that your hatered for Serbia blinds you from seeing the reality.

  10. Anonymous12:37

    What is exactly the source of this 'unresolved land ownership issues' information? Where was that published, what date, or who said it?


  11. I think Nemjee is right in regards to the national carrier. The carrier can be privately owned, but it acts as a national carrier. The USA is so large that it has 5 (soon to be 4 due to merger) so called national carriers. The general flying public doesn't really care about ownership of the carrier.

    So Doot, do you know what accounts for the high passenger numbers at PRN. I too don't think it is tourists and I don't think it is all from people visiting home. So I can only assume it is business travel. Is that correct?

  12. Anonymous16:41

    low cost many of those fly to Sarajevo...0. Wow I am so grateful for BH airlines, now I can book a flight and have it cancelled one month later.

    It would be interesting if somebody compared flying out of Pristina and Belgrade over the past decade in terms of cost...finally some competition!

  13. @Nemjee

    Apologies for not getting back to you earlier.

    First, please do not take my words out of context. I was writing in the context of passenger numbers at PRN and SJJ. When it comes to passenger numbers, PRN has more than double the number of passengers that SJJ has, whether it is a tourist hot spot or not (in his or your eyes). Let the figures do the talking since they are less subjective.

    While I generally agree with the premise that passenger numbers at PRN cannot grow significantly in the future without a 'home' airline, some of your other arguments are very flawed in my opinion.

    Your 'years of neglect' argument does not make sense to me. Usually neglect is associated with failure, not having more annual passengers in 2010 than Sarajevo and Skopje put together (both much bigger cities/countries than Pristina/Kosovo).

    Next, you shot yourself in the foot by mentioning Slovenia and national carrier in the same sentence. Slovenia has had a national carrier (Adria Airways) since it won its independence from former Yugoslavia and yet for the first 5 months of 2011 PRN has more passengers than LJU. Slovenia has been independent for just over 20 years, is that long term enough for you?

    Finally, Adria Airways Kosovo at present offers seven (7) international destinations out of PRN. That's more than JA offers out of SJJ. Belle Air Europe also offers nine (9) international destinations out of PRN. So, while these a not your usual 'home' airlines they do offer quite a few direct non-stop destination out of PRN. And, if the demand is there, they could either expand or someone else may set up a local base/hub. It's a possibility.

    I am not trying to put down either SJJ or LJU to make PRN look good, but if you look at the facts (figures) you cannot say that PRN does not deserve a new terminal because it is not a tourist hot spot.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. @ nemjee

    I hate to be the one to break this to you, but 90% of the foreigners who LOVE Belgrade are losers and failures in their home countries. Same goes for Serbs returning to Serbia after failing at life in whatever country the tried adopting as their home.


    My guess would be lower fares, lower taxes and attracting LLC. It's much cheaper to fly to PRN than to Skopje, for example, so maybe they're attracting passengers from not just Kosovo. Plus, probably, diaspora visits and international politicos

  16. frequentflyer12:31

    SJJs future (actually, all the BiH airports given they are all floundering) are dependent on one simple principle:
    removing the excessive bureaucratic mess allowing the country to become stable and prosperous. More prosperity = more flights!

  17. Anonymous13:03

    SJJ is not floundering, 7-10% passanger is not called 'floundering', just not performing as it could be. The rest of BiH airports don't have future apart from some odd flights, and in case of Mostar, a few charters (right now Mistral is doing LIMC flights, as far as I know).
    And please, try to be serious about relating prosperity to number of flights. Acoording to that, Serbia is more prosperous than Croatia?!?


  18. Doot,

    God, you are one bitter, angry queen. I think you should go and write a new blog post on how all Serbs who return to make their country better are morons and losers.
    I fear that the only loser and failure here is you. Maybe you were too big of a queen for Belgrade. After all, you are back in your lovely States so...

    Visit Kosovo,

    First of all, neglect is not a sign of failure but a sign of a general lack of interest. When I mention neglect I am not talking for the past couple of year but decades.

    I do not see how you can compete Slovenia and Kosovo when Slovenia is a fully recognized independent country whereas Kosovo isn't. You can't compare apples and pears.
    Second of all, the region of Kosovo has a greater population and a greater population living abroad which automatically generates more demand for air travel. That is why Pristina has more potential to grow. However, without a carrier based in the region of Kosovo that can only go as far.

  19. Thank you for the suggestion, N.

    "dumb things Serbians are desperate to believe" is indeed a good topic for a future blog post.


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