Belgrade under fire for Wizz Air benefits

Belgrade Airport denies Wizz Air privileges

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has denied offering benefits in the form of discounted services to low cost airline Wizz Air. The airport has come under fire after the daily “Novosti” published a piece alleging Serbia’s busiest airport has been discounting passenger taxes, handling, landing and service fees for the low cost airline over the past three years. According to the “Novosti” newspaper, Wizz Air has saved 5.4 million euros at Belgrade Airport since 2011, including a 20% discount for using terminal one, a 45% discount on handling and infrastructure use, 30% reduction on landing, 100% discount on the use of air bridges, 30% reduction on parking and lighting, 45% off for night time handling and a 45% discount on using airport infrastructure at night time.

In its defence, the airport says Wizz Air does pay less since it chooses to use less expensive services while passenger taxes are discounted since the airline uses terminal one for check-in procedures where taxes are lowered for all airlines. “There is no way that any airline can have a privileged status compared to others. There are defined prices and regulations which specify under which circumstances a reduction in fees for each type of service is possible”, the airport said in a statement. It adds, “All incentives are commercially justified and are limited in time”. Belgrade Airport is one of Serbia’s most profitable state owned companies.

The Serbian Ministry of Transport has announced it is launching an investigation into the issue. “We will examine whether there were unjustified discounts”, the ministry says. It adds the airport is allowed to offer incentives to airlines opening new routes for less than two years, after which the airline must pay its fees in full. Wizz Air is Serbia’s second busiest airline, handling 480.000 passengers in 2013. The former Serbian national carrier Jat Airways has long campaigned against the low cost airline. In 2012 Jat said in a statement, “Wizz Air has been granted a license to set up a base in Belgrade while Jat would never have the same rights from Budapest”.


  1. I hope Wizz does not leave. They are a crappy airline, but it does bring competition, which is unfortunately necessary.

    Low cost carriers actually can bring a benefit to air travel:

  2. Anonymous09:12

    You can easily see who ordered this piece in novosti and the predictable reactions, even a child could see through it. I just wonder if we will ever see the secret purchase agreement of jat? As far as wizzair is concerned the arabs will take care of them when they are given the airport.

  3. Anonymous09:22

    Having LC on the main and only country international airport made them refuse serving other airports. And this is true! It's maybe good for all from capital to have LC choice but.. I think there should be only 1 pricelist on 1 airport such a FRA, AMS, MXP and if they would like fly cheaper, give them to operate INI or KVO! 5 millions are what Wizz use to charge all airports in the region! Think they should pay back every cent back if this news is true!

    1. Anonymous19:35

      100% agree with you. Low cost companies never use main airports, only Belgrade and Skopje. Companies should have some privileges for opening new destinations but for limited period of time.

    2. Anonymous08:08

      This is absolutely not true. Especially in case of Spain, Portugal, Greece and to some extent Italy.

    3. Anonymous08:45

      lol Ryanair is flying from Madrid and they are opening flights from BRU, FCO and ATH soon. ;)

      I think that if both Nis and Kraljevo fail to attract new customers soon that the ministry of economy should shut them down.

  4. Tomorrow, JU will operate 15 flights with A319 and only 7 with 733. It seems like they will keep their promise of phasing out the 737 by summer.

    1. It will be interesting to see which registrations will stay for the summer season. I am particularly curious about YU-AND which was brought back to life recently.

  5. If they were offered a 100% discount on using the airbridges then wouldn't it be logical for them to use them? The last time I checked Wizz Air flights were boarded using stairs, not airbridges. Or am I missing something.

    1. Half passengers are using stairs to board from the rear entrance, and the other half is boarding via bridge.

      Све најбоље!

    2. Really? That's absolutely stupid. Why would anyone go down the stairs onto the tarmac only to board from the rear....

    3. Anonymous10:50

      Slightly off-topic:

      Air Serbia is scheduled to receive further five aircraft (3 A319 and 2 A320) in the next two months. Does anyone know when the next aircraft is supposed to join the fleet?

      By the way, YU-APF is flying to London Heathrow today. It also flew last night to Moscow.

    4. Anonymous10:50

      They use to use airbridges constantly when they started flying to BEG almost all the way until last October but now airbridges are so in demand that BEG has to send Wizz to the remote stand because other airline actually pay to use airbridges unlike them so they have to accommodate them.

    5. "Really? That's absolutely stupid. Why would anyone go down the stairs onto the tarmac only to board from the rear...."

      Not stupid but normal practice by many low cost carriers and airlines who want to minimise turnaround time.

    6. Anonymous13:00

      Yes but using both airbridge and stairs in Belgrade actually makes little sense because it takes much longer to get down the stairs and then walk to the plane than it would to just board everyone through the airbridge.

      I guess now when the bus gates open passengers will be boarded from the remote stands.

    7. Coma14:04

      Last time I flew with Wizz Air we were bussed to remote stands near the fire brigade. But when I flew before, every time they used air bridge and the bus.
      What I noticed is that they always send non-priority passengers first and then they go through the airbridge, but then downstaris and to the bus, while priority passengers and passengers with small children go directly to the plane via air bridge after the bus is full.

  6. Anonymous11:01

    As of today TAP Portugal is selling tickets for its Belgrade flights which are set to begin on 2nd July 2014.

    TP 502 Lisbon-Belgrade (1---5--) 22.45-03.25
    TP 503 Belgrade-Lisbon (-2---6-) 04.10-07.05

    TP 502 Lisbon-Belgrade (--3----) 22.00-02.40
    TP 503 Belgrade-Lisbon (---4---) 03.25-06.20

    The flights will be operate with the airline's A319 with 132 seats and the cheapest ticket is €242. The flight is 03.40.

    Really good addition and they will offer some sweet deals for flights throughout Africa and South America. Belgrade airport will be very busy during the night this summer season with Air Serbia operating a lot of flights between 00.00 and 01.00.

    Source: the airline's website.

    1. Anonymous20:41

      I found flights in August for 182 EUR

  7. Anonymous11:26

    It will come the day too when we're going to find out the whole package about Air Serbia deal too. Till now the story is the market perspectives and potentials... Let's wait few years.
    P.S. I just remember how people on this blog were bashing macedonian subsidies to W6. At least they were sincere and made it publicly.

    1. Anonymous11:47

      Dude, BEG did not give them subsidies, they gave them a discount in the form of incentive.

    2. Anonymous12:01

      There is not a single bitterness towards Serbia and stop sticking enemy etiquetes to all people thinking slightly different than your nationalist hot heads. The deal for sure is not a GMO land - it's the airport or riverport or sth. that gives Arabs strategic influence. As said time will show.
      Btw. Ginving discounts is even worse and more unethical because it's a classical price discrimination while subsidies can be justified with decreasing some fix costs while establishing a base.

    3. Anonymous12:13

      Stop trying to squash any form of Serbian defence against all these disillusioned accusations. It seems to me that when Serbs think differently we are immediately labelled as nationalists or nebeski narod. Get a life and give us a break. It seems that some people just can't deal with the fact that Air Serbia has become the best and strongest airline in the region... wider region. Currently there are only three airlines in the Balkans which are sure to survive: Aegean, Turkish Airlines and Air Serbia.

      Then what are we to say about Skopje and Wizz Air? Not only are they giving them subsidies but at the same time they gave them a special range of prices because they have a base there. ;)

    4. Anonymous12:20

      The big different is:

      BEG denied that there were any privileges and discounts to Wizz - that is deceitfulness of public and other air companies which fly in BEG.

      SKP from very first moment made tender and clearly every company had opportunity to open subvention lines by that tender.

      And Serbians were very loud in critics how that Wizz-SKP deal is not fair to other companies and Macedonia tax payers, and how different it is in Serbia.

    5. Anonymous12:59

      BEG never made a statement that Wizz Air did not receive any special treatment until now when it came under fire.
      Also, the Serbian taxpayers never cashed out a single Dinar for Wizz Air. Belgrade airport is actually making money off of W6's base in Belgrade so I do not see why people are making such a fuss about it.
      Let's see what Lufthansa, easyJet and Austrian Airlines are paying for and then let's compare. Singling out Wizz Air is unfair.

    6. Anonymous14:44

      Well, until we see other contracts we know that W6 received some juicy discounts that JU, for example, could only dream of. And JU is the largest contributor of pax to BEG.

      So if JU could not earn such a sweet deal, why would LH, LX or TK earn it?

      The relevant question here is: would BEG reach 3.54M pax without this incentive for W6? If yes, why were incentives approved? And if not, what would be the loss? Would it be 100k, 200k? Let's say 50% would use other carriers and 50% would not use BEG. Does it justify the incentive? And what about JU and other carriers?

      Serbian taxpayers may not have paid money to W6 but they GAVE UP 5M EURO OF THEIR INCOME for the benefit of W6. So it is fair to ask WHY. Did 7M people give up 5M so that 480k could fly cheaply? And how many of those 480k are Serbian taxpayers anyway?

      Once BEG is a private entity they can let W6 or anyone else in free of charge as far as I am concerned. But as long as they are PUBLIC ENTITY, they will be obliged to damn welll explain their expenditures as well as decisions to slash their official prices for certain customers.

      It is their secrecy and non-transparent operations that rightfully make people think something is very dodgy in the way they approve incentives.

  8. Anonymous11:42

    Contrary to your hopes, the Air Serbia 'package' does not include cheap agricultural land or secret traficking of virgins from Europe's poorest country to UAE. The reason W6's priviledges in BEG were kept secret is good old corruption of officials. Nothing to do with Air Serbia deal.

    Now, the day may come when we will see the takeover contract for JU. But the day that will never come is that on which you wake up with your entire body filled with anything else except blind and biiter hatred towards Serbia and anything that has any relations to it.

    Sad, very sad.

    1. Anonymous12:13

      And you are Minister Vučić or Prime Minister Dačić to know what is in deal with UAE? For sure not all ministers know real deal, and especially public will not know. But you will see in few months who is real "owner" of Serbian land. Just wait...

      Common sense show you that Etihad could buy hundreds better companies than Jat, with much more potential, better image, much better organization and less money to spend. There must be something else in deal!

    2. Anonymous12:16

      So you say that he doesn't know best then what makes you think you know it better than anyone here?
      I guess you are still frustrated over the fact that they did not even consider OU. lol

    3. Anonymous20:30


  9. JATBEGMEL12:36

    Wizz Air should be made to pay full price of the facility it uses. YM was also getting cheaper rates than JAT as well. It is scandelous to think that JAT was being charged almost double to what YM was being charged, and its JAT who was offering the most destinations from BEG. The running of BEG is ridiculous and needs to change. It is making profits, yes, but the way the airport is run is a scandal.

  10. Anonymous13:55

    There is a saying "Money Talks and Sh@t Walks".

  11. Anonymous15:15

    More UAE investment in Belgrade, more O&D passengers from Abu Dhabi.

  12. Anonymous15:43

    Does anyone know how much longer Montenegro Airlines can last? I see them surviving the 2014 summer season but the winter one it will be really hard. They are already down to two daily flights from Podgorica to Belgrade.

    1. Anonymous19:43

      Montenegro Airlines will go bancrupt soon. They are not using their fleet. e.g. tomorrow they are only having 4 flights( 3 from TGD and 1 from TIV)

    2. Anonymous08:40

      If they were a normal airline they would have retired the Fokker birds and shelved half of their work force... then again I doubt the high ranking officials can fire that many of their family members.

  13. Anonymous16:06

    Guys, this is Economics 101. If you are a customer who orders, say, 70 crates of goods per week, do you expect to pay less per crate than a customer who takes only 5 or 6? Sure you do.

    The seller also profits because, although price per unit may be somewhat lower, it's always better to utilize your capacity to the max, unless you're operating with loss. So, if your capacity is 500 crates per week, and you manage to sell only 250, of course you'll be willing to sell additional 70 with a discount in a market where every crate counts! And your stockholders will love you for it.

    As regards the 100% discount for air bridges, that is sound economic decision as well. Perhaps this is a premium service, but take a look at the cost side - air bridges at BEG are not utilized to the full capacity, and this is why they would become premium service in the first place. If there are empty air bridges which are already there, it is actually cheaper for the airport to use them, rather than employ a bus driver, lease an extra bus, operate it, pay for the gas and maintenance, hire additional security, etc. And since W6 aircraft utilization is very high, they don't occupy it for a long time.

    The "Novosti" argument how BEG "lost" 5 mil. Euro is just Serbian "journalism" at its best. Well, if they upped their pricelist by, say 100%, they might have earned another 40 mio., so is that the money they've lost as well?

    1. Anonymous16:28

      Well, Economics 101 also say that a customer who orders, say, 150 crates of goods per week (JU) should expect to pay less per crate than a customer who orders 70 (W6). So how come JU got no discount?

      Transparency 101: if you are a public entity and do not wish to be labeled for giving away the income that should have been tranferred to the national budget, you better disclose what kind of a deal you offer to which (class of) customer. Or at least disclose the list of priviledged customers. If you keep everything secret and then one of your contracts leaks out, then you have only yourself to blame for any damage caused by cheap journalism.

    2. Anonymous19:08

      @ Exactly right, however, if you are late with your payments, owe a lot of money for services provided in the past, or perhaps have a case in court against the seller, then it's usually no discount for you. Actually, no service at all. Also, you should have a better negotiator, and last but not least, your business interests should be your only and primary motivator.

      In this case, I would be surprised if one of these things could be said for two state run companies. This has to change, or the taxpayers will end up picking up the bill, as always.

      As for transparency, sure, in principle you are right. On the other hand, it's not really in BEG's interest to have their discounts leaked to the press - not because "Novosti" say they had their hand in taxpayers' pockets, but because there are other customers who would want more of the same. When you're a public enterprise, that can be a bitch, though.

  14. Anonymous16:17

    Companies in state or major state ownership must be transparent and fair to their taxpayers ... privat ones-they can do whatever they want ... management is responsable to their owners

    BTW subsidy or discount who cares ... money talk is the same at end of the day...if you pay 100 units and get 20 back as a subsidy or pay 100 units by rate card and get 20% discout at once ... mathematics says that is always 80 ... dicsout is even better as you need just 80 units at the begining instead of 100 when the subsidy is in question

  15. Anonymous16:23

    OT: easyJet starts BEG-FCO route.

    As for the topic: I am a Serb, and here every Serb likes to critisize serbian government and believe in bombastic headlines, but now, when our pride is endangered (and that is being the only one that did not give any subsidies to Wizz) now every one wants to emphasize how this article is untrue and unprofessional. Let us see what will happen.

    Nevertheless, we got ourselves a new route to Rome, and BEG will get 4 mil passengers almost for sure. Also BEG is stil very profitable.


    1. Anonymous17:18

      Confirmed, prices starting from 40 euros. Hope this won't be a repeat of W6 FCO-BEG. Great news!

    2. Anonymous18:11

      Air Srbija se buni zato što Wizz Air ima popust na aerodromu Beograd. Šta onda reći za situaciju da Air Srbija, potpuno džabe koristi aerodrom Banjaluka, dakle ne plaća ni marke. Wiz Air hoće koristiti aerodrom Banjaluka a ne može zbog astronomskih cijena goriva. Vlada Srpske neće da riješi gorivo tako da na taj način štiti interese Air Srbije.

    3. Anonymous18:50

      Ima istine u tome, ali Wizz nije tu ne samo zbog goriva, vec i zbog drugih stvari. Pitanje je da li bi mogao da ima popunjenost dovoljnu za Wizz...

    4. Anonymous20:07

      Pa ni AirSerbia ne uzima gorivo jer je preskupo, vec povuce i za povratni let. To moze i wizz da radi

    5. Anonymous20:38

      Hullo Anonymous from January 22, 2014 at 6:50 PM, on one hand, your observation on the flights booking at BNX could be right but, on the other, at TZL, Wizz Air proved the contrary. Were there still no passengers at BNX, it would be due to the fact that the airport operator doesn't have neither enough qualified personnel nor the proper ground handling equipment there. For example, owing to not having neither high-loaders nor proper conveyor belt loaders at the airport, access to the A320’s luggage holds would generate problems. Also, the terminal building needed for the ground handling so many passengers of such big airliners is not even close to be considered suitable. No check-through check-in there too…etc, etc…

    6. Anonymous20:51

      Hullo Anonymous from January 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM, I hope you’re sober and ready to learn…
      Wiz Air, as well as any other long distance, point-to-point carrier, can not do self-catering regarding fuel because such carrier flies much longer distances comparing to those that are currently present at BNX.
      Also, Wizz Air is of no-frills type so every cent has to be taken care of. Got it?

    7. Anon at 8:51.
      A320 can fly from Moscow Vuknovo to Banja Luka and back, and still have enough fuel for two hours of flight. If fuel is too expensive at Banja Luka, they can just fill up at the origin four both legs of the trip.

    8. Anonymous21:28

      Aleksandar, if the plane is full of full it will in fact actually burn more fuel due to the fact that it is heavier in that case. The less fuel it carries the better!!!! Do you remember the incident in Spain with Ryanair? There was thunder storm or something and it circled for 30 minutes, after that the captain reported fuel tank was empty and had to land asap.

    9. Anonymous21:29

      Correction: Full of fuel

    10. Anonymous21:41

      Hullo Aleksandar Stojanovic, OK, how much kerosene would the A320 burn on the route from the mentioned Vnukovo Airport to BNX?

  16. Anonymous18:28

    Providing its true, its a great news as both JU and AZ lifted prices quite a bit since W6 quit BEG-FCO route.

  17. Anonymous18:34

    easyJet se polako ali sigurno ušuškava na tržište Srbije. Me like it :)
    Još malo pa možda očekujemo LGW, MAN, BCN, NCE, LYS, BER?
    Zamislite kakva bi se pometnja desila kada bi easy dobio dozvolu za:
    BEG- ZRH
    BEG - VIE
    BEG - TGD
    BEG - TIV.
    A vrlo lagano bih dozvolio i BEG to DBV i SPU. čudo bi se desilo!! :)

    1. zar mu treba dozvola prema EU???
      valjda vazi open sky?????

    2. Anonymous21:22

      Naravno da im ne treba dozvola. U2 iz ZRH moze da pokrije London i to je to. ZRH je koliko ja znam najskuplji aerodrom, tako da od toga nema nista. Prepreke u Becu nisu tolike ali su slicne. A TGD i TIV su sasvim druge price :-)

    3. Anonymous08:22

      Ја ипак верујем да ће се ваздухопловно тржиште између Србије и Црне Горе либерализовати када пропадне Монтенегро Ерлајнз. Сваки покушај либерализације је блокиран од стране Црногораца што је и логично.
      Са дуговима који су достигли 80 милиона евра сумњам да могу још дуго да гурају овако.

      Када се ослободи тржиште сигуран сам да ће Ер Сербија добити друштво, највероватније ће то бити Виз Ер.

    4. SuisseOuest15:04

      U2 nema sa cime da se takmici sa JU i LX iz Ciriha: karte ni sada nisu jako skupe, a ekipa iz istocne Svajcarske koja hoce da sacuva pare moze da leti iz Bazela koji je na sat vremena od Ciriha. Da bi se U2 takmicio na toj liniji morali bi da lete bar dvaput dnevno, sto oni sigurno nisu spremni da ucine sada. S druge strane, pojacanje linije GVA-BEG na dnevni let u razumnom (nadam se vecernjem) terminu je realnije :)

  18. AZ will probably go bancrupt in near future.
    Easyjet and Vueling opened bases in Fiumicino and take over AZs network step by step.

  19. Anonymous18:47

    Wizz Air being based in BEG employes significant number of domestic stuff paying their wages in RSD hence contributing in state budget with millions of Dinars a year. Pressing it this way will lead to base closure. NOTHING will change, flights will be operated by other bases and local stuff will be dismissed or partially relocated. But I guess employes of Air Serbia are more important and more Serbian. Lame

  20. I guess that the propaganda against Wizz Air is only politics.
    Politicians should not mingle with business!
    Obviously some in the government think that it would help Air Serbia if Wizz gets damaged.
    Definitely its not an idea of the Arabs.

    EY can make JU a success even with a strong Wizz or Easyjet.
    If the Arabs really intend to take over Belgrade airport then they should urge the politicians to stop with this propaganda as soon as possible.
    The success of the airport depends on all airlines flying to there.
    I am convinced the Arabs want Wizz to stay at Belgrade.

  21. Personally I would never fly with Wizz or any other LCC, but I would hate to see LCC's leave BEG. Competition has always pushed fares down and quality up. Wizz is not competing against legacy carriers in BEG simply because most of the legacy carriers at BEG target transit passengers while LCC's target P2P passengers. From what I understand EY is working on establishing JU as a spoke and hub carrier with superior service, so there is absolutely no reason why JU and W6 wouldn't coexist at BEG.
    As for the landing/handling fees, why wouldn't each airline negotiate those fees individually? At the end of the day, aircraft manufacturers have list prices, but airlines negotiate prices and when a purchase is publicly announced, the actual price is never revealed, only total according to the price list. And what tax payers' loss are we talking about? Assuming W6 got a discount on landing/handling fees, as someone said before me, W6 increased its presence at BEG, hired more people and quite a few tax payers could afford to travel even though they would have never been able to afford it, had W6 not been here.

  22. people please...told you befroe WIZZ RYAN EASY get subsidies, discounts, low rates, call it what you want but everyone think a second...WIZZ sells the tickets, does all the advertising and marketing, supplies ground staff, pilots, stewardesses, engineers, counter check in staff pays airport whatever for landing takeoff, maintenance, cleaning, deicing, etc...and then someone or some newspaper or some jealous airline complains..Shit wake up and smell the roses, every client landing or taking off with WIZZ buys a drink or newspaper or giift in the airport, uses a taxi, bus, or other transport to arive and leave the airport, then hotels restaurants lets scrap all this for some petty jealousy!! Transparancy funny checked recently and did not notice any central European countries in the top 25 in the world for fight against transparancy or corruption!! I just wish that WIZZ or RYAN or EASY would fly to every airport in the area, more jobs, more tourists, more business visitors, and cheaper airfares for Serbians, Croatians, Bosnians, hungarians to go on vacations or business trips!! An awful thought for sure..right????

    1. Anonymous20:39


    2. I don't get it... Passengers flying with other carriers don't buy drinks, newspapers and gifts? They don't use taxi, hotel, bus and restaurants? Their carriers don't emply ground staff, pilots, stewardesses, engineers...? Only Wizz creates this economic impact and therefore deserves special prices?

      And seriously, what makes anyone think Wizz would immediately pull out from BEG without this stimulus? And even so, what makes anyone think their 480 thousand customers would not simply use another carrier? Would really all of them give up flying?

      I really don't like such deals. If Wizz or any LCC cannot aford to pay for service in BEG, then the authorities should open another airport with considerably lower price list and direct all of them over there. BEG is Serbia's primary airport, those who wish to use it should be ready to pay the price. Others can go to INI and/or KVO and pay less. And I am sure they would suddenly find a way to stay in BEG without special treatment - if only there was someone to tell them off.

    3. Few things...lx, no Wizz wouldn't pull out of BEG strait away without discounts, but their ticket prices would go up immediately. And they would pull out of routes that are not particularly busy/profitable.
      I don't think that is in the interest of travelling public nor the airport itself. For many reasons.
      Do you or anyone else really thinks that Serbian Gov. run airport would actually conspire with a Hungarian airline against Gov. run JU (as I can see few are complaining why JU is not getting discounts as well)???
      Why not allow for just a possibility that its actually something else rather than just screwing JU up? Is it possible its politics? Who knows, maybe it actually makes some financial sense ;)
      Also, someone already mentioned it and its true. JU was terrible customer in terms of paying its invoices. And don't confuse JAT with AirSERBIA as when the deal with Wizz was made JU was firmly on its destructive path. AirSERBIA is yet to prove that its paying its bills, but lets presume they got their acts together and they are/will.

      BTW, before trashing begins :) I am not a huge LCC fan. I don't think they are the best thing since the sliced bread. They are not for everyone, BUT they have their place. They keep big players in check. And that is good for us as passengers.
      So don't think I am defending Wizz, I am just pointing out that its probably not the way it seems at the moment.
      Again, few guys already pointed that out...its all politics. No one over there gives a rats ass about "public funds". There is a reason why that article was published and it definitely wasn't because it was in "the best interest of the public"

  23. Currently there are only three airlines in the Balkans which are sure to survive: Aegean, Turkish Airlines and Air Serbia.Fire Damage repair


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