Banja Luka Airport to target low cost airlines


Banja Luka Airport aims to handle some 100.000 passengers and offer flights to up to five destinations by the end of next year in a bid to turn around its fortunes. Following another disappointing year in 2017, during which it handled 20.867 passengers, representing a decrease of 3.8%, Banja Luka Airport's newly appointed General Manager, Duško Kovačević, is seeking assistance from Belgrade Airport's management in attracting low cost airlines. The two signed a strategic partnership agreement last year. "Our goal is to introduce at least three to five new routes over the next two years with at least two weekly services to western Europe. We expect some 100.000 passengers at Banja Luka Airport in 2019", the General Manager of Belgrade Airport, Saša Vlaisavljević said.

Banja Luka Airport has struggled to attract travellers over the past few years with Air Serbia being its only customer at the moment, maintaining two to three weekly flights from Belgrade during the winter and five over the summer. Last year, the government of the entity of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina suggested for Air Serbia to station an aircraft at Banja Luka Airport and open a subsidiary in the city, however, the airline rejected the offer. Mr Vlaisavljević noted that Belgrade Airport will provide assistance to Banja Luka during talks with foreign carriers, representation at global route development forums, relevant data on passenger and diaspora flow in the region, as well as cooperation in stimulating carriers to fly to Bosnia and Herzegovina's second largest city.

The Entity Ministry for Transport has said it will facilitate talks between Banja Luka Airport and budget airlines, signifying a major turnaround from last year when it noted that “low cost carriers are not our future". General Manager Kovačević noted, "We must maintain flights operated by Air Serbia. They are very important for us and we will work towards increasing frequencies on this route. Of course, in addition to Air Serbia, we are determined to enter into talks with any low cost airline interested in flying to Banja Luka". Negotiations with Wizz Air over potential services began in 2013 but collapsed later on as the two sides were unable to reach an agreement over fees.

Comments

  1. They have FINALLY come to their senses. Took them just 5 years and for everyone else to get flights.

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  2. I wonder if Wizz is still interested since they have developed so much in Tuzla. This could be a chance for Ryanair to enter the Bosnian market.

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    1. I don't think Wizz Air really thinks about it. They announced flights from OSI despite TZL. They also have INI flights despite SOF, SKP and BEG.

      I think they realized they can no longer afford to ignore any airport in the region that has potential.

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    2. Tuzla - WizzAir
      Mostar - Eurowings
      Banja Luka - Ryanair ??

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  3. Well at least they are realistic in aiming for 2019 since it is too late for summer 2018.

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  4. Zagreb south for FR?

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    1. Would be smart marketing.

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    2. Good idea. Also Osijek can be called Belgrade West for Eurowings.

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    3. It is actually very good idea.
      We should not forget that ZAG is not LCC friendly and BNX could see their chance there.
      2 hours driving is not that far and it could be good solution both for passengers from ZAG and surrounding as well as for BNX airport.

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    4. Not sure how happy ZAG would be about that.

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    5. They wouldn't have much say in it.

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    6. Actually in Germany there was a court ruling against FR that they must not call Hahn "Frankfurt-Hahn" anymore.

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    7. the only difference is that here you need to cross the border which makes the journey length a bit less predictable(and less convenient)

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    8. There are many places where you can cross the border, not only one

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    9. HR fully entering Schengen in 2019 will make this border between ZAG and BNX much much more difficult and time consuming to cross. The same goes for BEG and OSI case.

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    10. Hungary has been for a long time in Schengen and it does not stop Serbs to fly from Budapest

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    11. I am from HR, and I flew as well from BUD on FR, to Eilat Ovda, for 54 euro return, and I don't even live close to hungarian border, quite oposite, and there is still border controll between HR and HU. And of course there are individual cases when people from Serbia fly from Budapest. And of course there would be such cases if, which I doubt, BNX gets LCC's. But it would never be something massive, Schengen border being just one of the reasons, second one much wider offer of flights form ZAG itself, or LCC's from ZAD/RJK/PUY, or simply some people from HR disliking idea to travel from BNX (not me, but there are such), and the other way round

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    12. @8:38 PM

      Although I would like for this to happen, you guys first need to persuade Mr Cerar to vote yes, which in current situation will be pretty much impossible.

      On a different note, the border crossing procedure between HR and non-EU neighbors is already up to Schengen standards, so I don't really see how could it become more strict and time consuming. They follow the "Schengen catalogue" to the letter, unlike Hungarians, who allow themselves occasional relaxing of control when there are no monitoring missions around.

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  5. BNX has good potential. I'm glad they will change their failed strategy and work with LCCs.

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    1. About time. Such a shame for an airport to rot away because of corruption and nepotism.

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  6. Easy solution. Encourage Wizz Air to station its third A320 in Belgrade and to operate some BNX (maybe even INI) flights with its BEG crew.

    Talking of Wizz Air, its BEG-LCA was 100% full this morning. Every flight in January carried a different football team going there for training. Last week it was Red Star, this morning it was Cukaricki.

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    1. +1

      Good idea because i think 3 rd aircraft would be too much alone in beg.

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    2. Isn't FC Red Star in Antalya,Turkey?

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    3. Anon 10.19 Yes this week, they were first in cyprus.

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    4. They returned from Cyprus last Sunday, maybe they went to Antalya after that.

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  7. There is easyjet too. Though they are generally uninterested in the area (except Croatian summer flights).

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    1. They have flights to Montenegro, Ljubljana and Pristina too. I would not say they are uninterested.

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    2. Very limited compared to Wizz.

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  8. While I'm happy for Banja Luka, I don't get the CEO of BEG airport. He should be working to attract airlines at his own airport, not to mention he is on his way out.

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    1. I am torn here. While I think Belgrade CEO is probably milking some money for his consulting services to BL, on the other hand I think there are no competitive people in BL who can advise them on how to strike the best possible deal with low cost airlines, so I kinda think this is a win win situation for both.

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    2. Well, he is on his way out, and being party appointed with a lot of baggage behind for running JU the way he did, I'm not sure he'll be able to find gainful employment in Gulf Air... So, maybe BNX is an option for him.

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    3. You are right; beside he was born in Bihac which is not far that from BNX.

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  9. Wizz will start flights for sure. Basel and Vienna would work.

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    1. Malmo as well.

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    2. I would also add MMX. Lots of Serbs from Srpska in both southern Sweden and Denmark.

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    3. They should have at least two weekly Luton flights. ZAG has no cheap flights and OSI lost FR. BNX could be the cheaper alternative to Zagreb for London flights.

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    4. In 2013 Wizz offered Banja Luka flights from Luton, Malmo, Eindhoven and Dortmund to choose from.

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    5. Wizz has used Banja Luka as an alternative when Tuzla was closed because of bad weather a couple of times. Let's hope it doesn't stay at that.

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    6. ^^

      https://www.bl-portal.com/media/k2/items/cache/aadedfb3423a3489bf972cecba07ad72_XL.jpg

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  10. If only ZAG CEO spoke like this

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  11. EasyJet, Rianair and Eurowings might see a chance with BNX to take some passengers away from Wizzair which is clearly the LCC leader in this region. But if BNX continous with its failed strategy, nothing will happen. My fear is that it‘s already too late for a big turnaround

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    1. Truth be told it's not too late. Wizz Air might be the biggest in the region but it's network and frequencies are still limited.

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  12. Welcome to the real world Banja Luka Airport. Took you long enough. I do wish you all the best.

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  13. They could have simmilar numbers to Nis Airport.

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    1. Similar markets. Although Banja Luka is smaller than Nis.

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    2. 200,000 is reachable for Banja Luka by 2020 if they get a serious airline like Wizz to base a plane and start flights.

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  14. Love how they completely changed their position on LCCs 360C.

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    Replies
    1. They realized that waiting for legacy airlines to line up was not going to happen.

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    2. You mean 180 degrees

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  15. Hopefully something comes of this. Good luck BNX.

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  16. BNX would be a perfect addition to Wizz Air's route map. I could see Banja Luka - Basel working very well since most Serbs living there are actually from Bosnia.

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  17. Congrats BNX! Good to see the airport reviving.

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  18. If BNX gets LCCs then it will be really dangerous for ZAG and its disillusioned management.
    Lowcost airlines will be flying from SPU, LJU, BNX, TZL and OSI.

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    1. Air Canada
      Air Transat
      Emirates
      EL AL
      Aegean
      KLM
      Brussels
      CSA
      Monarch (meanwhile ceased ops)
      Volotea
      came during last 2 years, or are to come this summer, or turned charter into scheduled flights. With negotiations going on for flights to/from the USA, Thailand, China and Korea, plus some more european airlines, with average monthly growth of 10% for the last year, and with increased profits,I really don't understand how can you call it disillusioned and dare to put ZAG in the same sentence with BNX, the ex-YU aviation black hole, actually not only to put in the same sentence, but to call it dangerous for ZAG. And btw. even if BNX gets a LCC, it will be one, two the most, and ZAG has Norwegian, Germanwings and Eurowings, with confirmed Volotea to come, and Easyjet to come back, so could you please enlighten me an tell me where the danger is?

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    2. What was Tuzla like before Wizz Air came? It was even worse than BNX since it didn't have a single flight.
      Wizz Air launched flights and look at where they are today... they are coming close to overtaking Sarajevo.

      Banja Luka has a larger catchment area and the city is richer than Tuzla meaning the potential is greater.

      Just like Serbs from BNX go to Zagreb to catch a flight to Canada, that's how Croats will go to Banja Luka to catch a flight to, let's say, DTM of €50 in stead of flying on Eurowings for €200. Pretty much the same as when Croats go to LJU to fly for less money.

      Second of all, if ZAG was such a major regional power house then airlines such as Air Canada ROUGE, Air Transat, EL AL, Brussels and CSA would not be flying on a summer seasonal basis. Even EK was forced to downsize its initial plans for winter flights to ZAG.

      Stop looking down on others, there is no need to be condescending. Remember what the Bible says: When you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you.

      In the end, my point stands. All airports around ZAG are attracting lowcost airlines while they are pretending to be a boutique airport. lol

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    3. You really believe that ZAG will never have more LCC? They shift all the time in no time.

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  19. Actually if you look at some recent interviews on tv this CEO gave, he doesnt know squat about aviation and airports and lowcosters, all 24mins of the interview he was repeating how "they need to make a feasibility study, how LCCs are the way to go, and how they at least want 5 destinations", literally all 24mins just repeating the same and sweating. So Im not very convinced anything will happen again at BNX, they simply DONT KNOW how to run an airport due to politics, nepotism and corruption.

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  20. I really do hope Banja Luka Airport turns things around. Don't understand some people who seem to enjoy and make fun of the current state at the airport.

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    1. They've made monkies of themselves for the past 5 years, not people commenting here. They have displayed incompetence, hypocricy and corruption at their worst.

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  21. Finally! We need low fares from Banja Luka!

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  22. Which airport do people from Banja Luka and that region use?

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    1. Tuzla for European flights and Zagreb for all long-haul flights except New York. JU's summer timetable is ideal for connections.

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    2. Interesting. Is the road infrastructure between Banja Luka and Zagreb good? (sorry not from the area)

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    3. Thanks. I guess the only nuisance there is actual border crossing.

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    4. Exactly... there is still a larger bridge to be built wich should start this/next year and some km of highway in Croatia.

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  23. Air Serbia was right to focus on consolidating Belgrade hub when they started in 2013. By 2014/2015 they should have allocated one Aviolet 737 to no frills flights from Nis and Banja Luka to diaspora destinations. By now they could have expanded destinations, kept LCCs away and dominated traffic at three airports in the region. Someone at Etihad made a wrong decision.

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  24. The worse airport staff that I have met...

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  25. I already see this beeing advertised as Zagreb south airport by Ryanair

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