EX-YU airport race 2012

Five airports see record numbers

Most airports in the former Yugoslavia ended 2012 on a high. With the exception of Ljubljana, there were no major changes on the leader board. Belgrade maintained its position as the busiest in the former Yugoslavia, strengthening its lead over second placed Zagreb and third placed Priština. It was a year to forget for Slovenia’s busiest airport as it dipped from fourth to sixth place, behind Dubrovnik and Split but ahead of Skopje.

Ljubljana and Sarajevo were the only two EX-YU capital city airports to see their numbers decline compared to the year before. In 2011 only Podgorica saw its numbers slip. As was the case in 2011, a total of six airports managed to handle more than one million passengers. Furthermore, the top five EX-YU airports recorded their busiest years on record.

Below you can review the top ten busiest airports in the former Yugoslavia in 2012. Missing from the table are Podgorica and Tivat which are yet to announce their annual data separately. Together, the two airports welcomed 1.345.150 passengers, an increase of 7% compared to the year before. Despite Podgorica’s slow start to 2012, both airports saw their numbers rise last year.

AirportPassengers 2012Passengers 2011Change (%)
Belgrade3.363.9193.124.633 7.7
Zagreb2.342.3092.319.098 1.0
Priština1.527.1341.422.302 7.4
Dubrovnik1.480.4701.349.501 9.7
Split1.425.7491.300.381 9.6
Ljubljana1.198.0001.369.485 12.5
Skopje828.831759.928 9.1
Sarajevo580.058599.996 3.3


  1. Anonymous09:15

    Mark my words, Dubrovnik will become the second airport in Yugoslavia in the coming years. Just look at the passenger numbers of other tourist airports around Europe. Once you do you will understand that Dubrovnik is actually under-performing at the moment. The whole area around Dubrovnik will only continue to develop which will attract even more tourists in the coming years. This year the airport recorded a 10% growth, I am confident that in 2013 with even more tourists we can expect 1.600.000 passengers.

    Naturally, it all depends on how well Zagreb performs. However, even OU is concentrating more on the coast. After all, they know where the real business is.

    1. Anonymous09:16

      Hmm you might be right, especially that the gap between the two is less than 1.000.000 now!

    2. Anonymous09:38

      So is between ZAG and BEG!

    3. I am also very confident about DBV and I wouldn't be surprised if they reach 2mil mark this year. Due to its popularity, it is very likely we also see some long haul flights from N. America or Asia.

    4. Anonymous16:26

      I think there are far more possibilities of seeing north American flights into Dubrovnik before Zagreb. Simply because Dubrovnik might attract more premium passengers than ZAG.

      Didn't Emirates consider launching flights to DBV?

    5. Anonymous20:53

      That's not going to happen,due the fact that Serbian tourists choose Tivat,which is 50km from Dubrovnik. Also Tivat serves whole Montenegro,which is much larger market than Dubrovnik area.

    6. Anonymous05:33

      Number of serbian tourists coming to Dubrovnik is insignificant and makes no difference for the future. Refer to DBV 2012 list of pax. It may increase Tivat pax number only.

    7. Anonymous19:28

      All those Russian flights that fly to Tivat instead of Dubrovnik...

    8. Anonymous21:09

      It won't happen, Dubrovnik is a holiday destination, it get really busy during tourist season and during quite months, it barely handles 30 000 passengers per month.

      Zagreb has increased its lead on all Croatian airports significantly in past 5-6 years. in 2005 Zagreb had 1.55 million passengers, Dubrovnik and Split both had 1 million.

      In 2011 Zagreb had 2.3 million while other two manged to increase their traffic by 400 000, Zagreb in meanwhile has increased the gap to 1 million.

      2012 was bad year cause of recession and general slump in European Aviation sector, only charter, low cost and tourist flight manged to relatively unscave the recession untouched.

      sure you had few bankruptcies but not as bad as overall sector.

      Anyways I Expect by 2020 Dubrovnik will mange 3.2 million and Split 3.0 million passengers, whilst Zagreb will increase its lead and menage around 5.7 million passengers.

    9. Purger10:56

      Entering in will not be good for DBV Russian passangers, concerning the fact that Croatia will have to reintroduce visas for Russian citizen. That will, for sure, motivate Russian companies to fly more to Tivat than to Dubrovnik.

    10. Anonymous13:39

      Yep, Russians will need to apply for Visa, starting from now on, visa regime was always on just that during the summer tourist season Croatia dispensed with the visa requirements for Russians and Ukrainians, but with the EU entry, a strict Visa regime will be in place, visa regime which many in Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia are quite familiar with.

      As a result of this, it is quite likely number of Russian visitors to Croatia will half from current 200 000 down to 100 000 if even that.

      but the fact that most Russians who do visit Croatia tend to be of upper middle class or better off Russians perhaps they'll see this as just another hustle they need to do if they wish to go outside russia, after all US & the EU have had strict visa regime with Russia and still you see many Russians going on holidays to London, New York, Florida, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and France.

      But yes, Nonagenarians are likely to reap the rewards for Croatia's EU entry that is until 2025 when Montenegro is likely to join the EU. (8 years for EU Chapter negotiations band implementation, 3 years for EU ratification and 28 national referendums and 1 year for accession and monitoring. Yep, after Croatia's EU entry things will be much tougher for new applicants.

  2. Anonymous10:44

    Intresting didnt know this blog was run by communists, no freedom of speech allowed. You cant compare belgrade airport with zagreb airport or your comment gets deleted?

    1. You can. They were deleted by accident when the first stupid comment about Zagreb was deleted. They will be retrieved.

    2. Anonymous12:35

      What was the stupid comment about Zagreb, just approximately?

    3. Anonymous12:49

      i think it was the usual “when…” comment. People need to grow up.

  3. Purger10:50

    Concerning that Zagreb has just 800.000 inhabitants, results are much better than Belgrade with 1.200.000 inhabitants. That is:

    2,93 passengers/inhabitant for ZAG, and
    2,73 passengers/inhabitant for BEG

    Not to mention that Croatia has 8 international airports and Serbia just 2, so 98% of Serbian air traffic goes throw BEG, and just 44% of Croatian air traffic goes throw ZAG.

    And no, new terminal will not help ZAG so much, but entering EU in 6 months will!!!

    1. Anonymous10:50

      If so .... Ljubljana (280.000) than has far better result: 4,28

    2. Anonymous10:51

      Ah Purger do you always have to do this? You are becoming as pathetic and sad as the other guy posting it.

      As mentioned on here countless times, the market of Serbia and Croatia can not be compared. The Croatian market is comparable to that of Greece, Cyprus, Malta and the Spanish coast. While Serbia's market is comparable to that of Hungary, the Czech Republic and so on.

      One thing is certain, Zagreb will not grow spectacularly in the future while the coast will. This is not Serbian anti-Zagrebism talking but rather common sense. Zagreb can grow only so much and the entry to the EU will mostly benefit the coastal cities.

    3. Anonymous10:51

      He is not comparing croatia with serbia his comparing zagreb with belgrade. Belgrade is airport for whole serbia while Zagreb airport is just for zagreb and maybe eastern croatia. However, population of the city dosnt really impact as much as economic reasons. anyway welldone to belgrade.

    4. Purger10:53

      You are absolutely right. I totally agree with you.

      But my reaction was just on provocation BEG-ZAG (Anonymous 9:05) for which there was no need at all, as those market are different and as to compare this is stupid. ZAG and BEG compete and compare just in same transfer market like SKP, SJJ, TGD, SPU, DBV, PUY. And there, for sure, ZAG has better results than BEG:

      BEG-TGD: 33 flights per week (42 in season)
      BEG-TIV: 14 flights per week (28 in season)
      BEG-SJJ: 7 flights per week (7 in season)
      BEG-SKP 7 flights per week (10 in season)
      BEG-OHR: (4 in season)
      BEG total: 61 flights per week / 91 in season

      ZAG-SPU: 21 flights per week (32 in season)
      ZAG-DBV: 21 flights per week (32 in season)
      ZAG-SJJ: 10 flights per week (14 in season)
      ZAG-SKP: 7 flights per week (9 in season)
      ZAG-ZAD-PUY: 7 flights per week (14)
      ZAG-PRN: 4 flights per week (6 in season)
      ZAG-TGD: 3 flights per week (3 in season)
      ZAG total: 73 flights per week / 110 in season

      That does not make BEG smaller or less important!!!!!

    5. Anonymous11:08

      Of course it doesn't make BEG less important. After all, BEG's true potential only started to show in December 2009 when visa restrictions were removed.
      In 2009 BEG handled 2.384.000 passengers while at the end of 2012 this number was 3.363.000. That is more than impressive even if the country has only one airport. Mind you, BEG has competition from Tmisoara and Budapest which take a part of its passengers. So though Serbia might have only one real airport, its citizens have a large variety of airports to chose from.
      This is why the argument that Serbia has only one airport is not fully valid.

    6. Purger13:14

      You are absolutely right concerning that "true potential of BEG only started to show in December 2009".

      But concerning "competition" from Timisoara and Budapest, you should know that this is nothing to competition which ZAG has in same distance (around 400 km):

      Bratislava (big LCC airport)
      Zadar (LCC and charters)
      Split (LCC and charters)
      Rijeka (LCC and charters)
      Pula (charters)
      Graz (charters)
      Linz (charters)
      Salzburg (charters)
      Trieste (LCC and lines to Italy)Klagenfurt (charters)
      Treviso (LCC)

      Out of 10 my flights 8 are from those airports especially Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Bratislava. Most of passengers from Zagreb use charters to Greece, Caribbean, Canary Islands, Turkey, Tunisia and Spain from Ljubljana, Graz, Linz and Salzburg. You would be impressed to see how many Zagreb passengers use Ryanair from Zadar.

      And so many airports around is the biggest problem of Zagreb (and Ljubljana) airport. So, in that case BEG can hardly say it has competition in airports around.

    7. Anonymous14:55

      So you're not such a Zag airport fanatic as some say you are... Some could even accuse you of not being patriotic enough. I mean if guys like Purger are taking 8 of 10 flights from other airports, you can think what would be the potential of ZAG if everyone was using their home airport!

    8. Purger15:21

      Of course I am not Zagreb airport fanatic. Especially when I lose money on it. Sorry but my business is not that big that I can spend 500-600 extra EUR for 2 persons to fly from ZAG. And I thing most of passengers travel like this. Just those with lot of money and don’t care, those who get a good price (actions, discounts, cheap connection to some destinations what happens) or P2P flights which are usually cheap enough not to spent money and time to f.e.VIE (patrol, highways, parking in VIE), and those working for government fly from Zagreb. Usually it is much cheaper to spend 3 hours driving to VIE, BUD, VCE, BTS and use direct flight from there than connections via some hub.

    9. Anonymous18:52

      The same stands for LJU. As a (quite) frequent traveller in 2012 I had:
      1 flight from ZAG
      1 flight from MXP
      3 flights from TRS
      6 flights from LJU
      15 flight from VCE
      Not that I really enjoy traveling to VCE :-)

    10. Anonymous03:01

      The same stands for BEG. As a (quite) frequent traveler, going mostly on long-haul routes (i use the train for everything around up to 1000km away), in the past years i had:
      - 2 flights from BEG
      - 5 flights from IST
      - 7 flights from SAW
      Not that i really enjoy travelling to IST (i wouldn't even put a smiley, seriously).

    11. Anonymous03:04

      Conclusions, ALL ex-Yu airport bleed A LOT of traffic to other airports in the region, going as far as Istanbul, which used to be the departure airport of choice for many people travelling to Asia. Things are starting to change now, though, with Qatar and other companies. If Tap Portugal was to start Belgrade, South America would suddenly become much more accessible as well, cause prices to there are still just nuts.

    12. Anonymous12:46

      Poor guy. Traveling to IST and SAW. Not that is really the same as taking the motorway LJU-VCE and being there in two and a half hours.

    13. Anonymous19:07

      So VCE is my home airport and SAW is yours. That’s just fine. Get a life!

    14. Purger11:09

      There is no way that you will convince me that lot of passengers travel to IST some 1.000 km without highways (that is some 12-13 hours), as passengers from LJU and ZAG travel to VIE, BUD, VCE with highways (some 2-3 hours).

      Of course I was travel once in last 10 years to MUC (flight to Cuba) what is just 550 km (4 hours) and to STR (to Tenerife) what is 780 km (6 hours). For sure I will not travel regularly to Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Paris (12-13 hours) by car to take a flight.

      So you are, for sure, exemption. Most of Serbians does not drive 10 times per year to IST for making flight.

  4. Anonymous10:55

    Pretty sure DBV will overtake PRN in 2013. It was pretty close this year as well. I’m not really that surprised with Ljubljana. Ljubljana had inflated growth these past years when the ex-yu markets like Belgrade and Skopje were still completely closed. Now that they have opened up there is less need to transit through LJU.

  5. @EX-YU Aviation
    I am not sure how you worked out the growth percentage of PRN pax numbers for 2012, however the correct growth figure is 7.37% (7.4% is you round to a single decimal point).
    Not that it makes a huge difference, but in the interest of fairness I think you should correct the growth figure.

    1. Apologies. I don’t know how that got messed up. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Anonymous11:38

    I would like to know what was the Anonymous comment at 09:05, someone saw it? I mean just the sense.

    1. Anonymous13:16

      Clasical one abou how big is BEG, and how small is ZAG

    2. Anonymous14:52

      But one has to admit that comments mocking Zagreb are sometimes really fun, even if i'm Croat... The best jokes about Ex-Yu airports are about Zag and sometimes Sarajevo.

  7. My 6 visits to ZAG didn't help them much i see, but i'm still suprised whow they can handle even that much pax with a oldskool airport with only 1 shop..

  8. Anonymous15:02

    I don't think the title of this article is very fortunate.
    I wasn't aware that the airports were racing against eachother - Otherwise I might have booked extra flights so my favourite airport gets ahead :)

  9. Yesterday, I was searching for my summer flights to LJU or ZAG and I found some interesting options. If I were to fly my usual UA/LH and JP/OU combination via FRA or MUC, the ticket gets over $1,500. Then I checked flights out of NYC and found 2 interesting offers. I could fly Finnair JFK to LJU for about $900 but has a pretty long layover of 8 hrs in HEL on the outbound and a required sleepover on the return. The other option is on TAP from EWR to ZAG for about $900 as well and requires a sleepover in LIS on my return flight. Once I add my additional flight to NYC so I can connect (extra $200) the price is still about $300 lower than on UA/LH and which is more than enough to cover one hotel night in HEL or LIS. I am really thinking to try this option and see how it works. I am leaning more toward the TAP and LIS option. I have noticed that on some days they use their A321 to ZAG.

    1. Anonymous16:22

      Hey Sam, if I were you I would go via LIS simply because Lisabon is far more exotic than Helsinki. Not to mention that HEL as an airport is vile.

      Best from BEG :)

    2. I am thinking the same. LIS would be definitely an interesting place to visit. I just hope TAP and United have an interline agreement so I don't have to recheck and pay again the fee for my luggage when transferring in EWR.
      Pozz i tebi u BEG :)

    3. Doot16:59

      "vile" is a pretty strange way to describe HEL. I wouldn't even describe BEG as 'vile', except maybe when they have water pouring out of their ceilings.

    4. Anonymous20:50

      Oh yeah. The leaking sewage problem!

    5. Anonymous05:42


    6. Anonymous20:52

      I prefer LIS over HEL. The airport is really close to the city (underground to the city centre of fast but still cheap aero bus) and the city itself is just superb. On the other hands I prefer Finnair over TAP. And during the summer the atmosphere in the Finland due to the white nights can be really special.

  10. Anonymous16:14

    Look up whos on top?

    1. Doot16:58

      Kind of like winning a prize for the tallest midget.


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