Serbia's "ghost airports" await opening

Two Serbian airports which have built new terminal buildings over the past few years in anticipation of commercial traffic are still waiting to be opened in order to attract carriers and passengers. Deadlines for the opening of both Kraljevo's Morava Airport in Central Serbia and Užice's Ponikve Airport in Western Serbia have been repeatedly missed, leaving their future in doubt. It comes as the country plans to cap passenger growth at its secondary airports on a temporary basis as part of the 25-year concession agreement for Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport with France's VINCI. The government has admitted that figures will be confined to one million passengers for each airport in the country within a 230 kilometre radius of Belgrade until Nikola Tesla Airport reaches twelve million travellers per year.

Morava Airport's 22-million euro terminal and control tower were completed in 2012, however, its 2.200 metre-long and thirty metre-wide runway can only handle smaller turboprop aircraft. As a result, the airport is seeking approximately ten million euros to overhaul its runway. However, Serbia's President, Aleksandar Vučić, recently noted that there were "numerous difficulties" surrounding Morava Airport. "I will open this airport but we have a lot of issues. This is because we first have to see how and in which way Niš Airport will function. We are not a big country in order to maintain so many airports. It is easiest to give ten, twenty or thirty million euros to build an airport. But how are we going to cover their costs so they don't generate ten million euros in losses each year? Or five million?", the President said. He added, "We are drafting a business case which will evaluate how we can make money from this [Morava] airport. We can lose two million euros per year, the state will cover that, but let's find a way not to lose more".

It is projected that Morava Airport would significantly boost the local economy since it lies between several industrial cities and is in close proximity to the Italian-run Fiat-Zastava car manufacturer. Furthermore, the airport is expected to stimulate the local tourism industry and benefit health tourism in particular which is already developed in the area. The six-year-old passenger terminal features a duty free shop, exchange office, commercial office space, a detention centre, clinic, car park and a cargo depot. While the airport is also used by the military, its terminal building has been shut down since its official opening.

On the other hand, Ponikve Airport opened its new terminal building in 2016. "The runway is 3.100 metres long, of which 2.200 metres have been overhauled. The length is more than enough to accommodate larger aircraft. However, the main problem, and the reason we are still unable to handle any flights, is the lack of a perimeter fence", an airport official said last year. However, this June, Užice's local assembly approved almost half a million euros in funds for the development of the parameter fence. Furthermore, Belgrade Airport has committed itself to drafting the airport's business plan in order to make its operations sustainable. Several million euros have been invested in the reconstruction of Ponikve Airport following its destruction in 1999. The Užice region is home to some of Serbia's most exported goods. On the other hand, it is also close to several major cities in the former Yugoslavia, with Sarajevo and Belgrade just 118 kilometres away. During the 1996 summer season, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated a two weekly Belgrade - Užice - Tivat service. Over the past few years, small private aircraft have used the airport during the daytime.


  1. Nemjee09:18

    I think there is a good chance for these airports to eventually get some flights.

    BEG is well served and it keeps on expanding quite nicely. This winter season will be particularly strong with many airlines (our beloved JU included) adding more destinations and frequencies. Seems like Qeshm will be back from 01.10.

    INI is victim of Wizz Air's overall confusion about their future strategy. Seems like they will terminate their second destination from the airport - MMX. That said, both Swiss and Ryanair keep on maintaining their operations without any major fluctuations. Wizz Air's loss can easily become Ryanair's gain.

    I think Kraljevo has a good chance of being activated in near future. I am not saying an airline will open a base but I could see them copying INI's model. Even if this model might not make an airport instantly profitable, at least it reduces the losses and the need for additional financing from the state/regional/city budget. KVO could also help in promoting Serbia's ski resorts in winter months.

    Generally, looking at the Serbian aviation landscape, I can see Wizz Air losing out in the coming months and years.
    Ryanair is firmly positioning itself in an area that was traditionally dominated by Wizz Air (SKP, SOF and to a lesser extend BEG).
    easyJet has added a lot of seats and frequencies this year. If their expansion proves to be fruitful then we might see them add several new destinations such as LGW, ORY... They are going after Wizz Air on BSL-BEG which has a horrible schedule as it serves OSI with the same plane.

    Even Norwegian, which has been rather conservative when it comes to Serbia, has increase BEG-OSL to three weekly and has made ARN-BEG year-round. Compared to last winter, they will double their presence at BEG from 2 to 4 weekly flights..

    We will have to wait and see what Ryanair does with Laudamotion. I highly doubt FR will simply give up on its BTS-INI once Wizz Air launches VIE-INI next month. I could see them launch VIE-BEG and eventually VIE-INI.

    One thing is certain, Wizz Air's current strategy (or lack of it) will create a disastrous outcome for them.

    1. Anonymous09:30

      OTH Wizz keeps expanding its fleet and passenger numbers, remains highly profitable and their stock value has doubled in the last two years.
      It is now worth over 3 BILLION British pounds, that is 3.4 billion Euros!

    2. Nemjee09:53

      Anon 09.30

      Yes, Wizz Air is reporting profits at the moment but don't forget that this year they massively expanded in the West where they will have to face far more dangerous players than Tarom, Jat, Lot, Adria, Bulgaria Air, Malev...

      Look at their Vienna base. How many airlines will they have to compete against? There is Austrian Airlines which is owned and backed by merciless Lufthansa. Then there is Level which has IAG backing it and finally, and in my opinion the most dangerous, there is Ryanair with its Laudamotion brand. Don't forget that Wizz Air has more or less managed to repel Ryanair in some key eastern European markets so this is now Ryanair defending its western European market against Wizz Air.

      How many years will pass before their VIE base breaks-even? OS is not giving up on its home market. More than 40 additional weekly flights to 14 destinations in Europe will be added this winter alone.

      - OS is increasing TXL to 48 weekly flights as a result of easyJet entering the market.
      - OS will increase DUS to 36 while W6 will launch daily VIE-DTM flights.
      - OS will increase CPH to 30 weekly while W6 will launch Billund in November.
      - OS increases SKG to daily, W6 will also launch VIE-SKG this November.
      - OS increases KBP to 16 weekly, Wizz is also launching Kiev this October.

      So on and so on.

      Wizz Air will have to pour millions and millions into their VIE adventure as I doubt they can just retreat and accept defeat. Wizz Air is shifting a lot of their resources to the western front. They already closed their PRG base, they are moving some SOF planes as well, WAW A320s are getting replaced by A321 (they probably need smaller capacity elsewhere), Poznan base is also getting closed...

    3. Anonymous09:55

      yeh right, INI is always the victim.... there is no market in INI except D-CH-Ö

    4. Nemjee10:00

      Anon 09.55

      I don't know if they are a victim or not but Wizz Air has been cutting a lot of eastern European destinations.

      Here are the passenger numbers for last year.


      01.2017 - 1.721
      02.2017 - 2.369
      03.2017 - 2.423
      04.2017 - 2.895
      05.2017 - 2.639
      06.2017 - 2.582
      07.2017 - 3.006
      08.2017 - 2.505
      09.2017 - 2.690
      10.2017 - 2.902
      11.2017 - 2.273
      12.2017 - 2.466

    5. Anonymous10:00

      You forgot the W6 reductions in BUD, OTP, ATH and WAW bases. It's not only SOF.
      You also forgot LTN base which needs more and more aircraft.
      INI-VIE will be increased to 3 weekly too.

    6. Vienna is „the second largest serbian city in the world, after Belgrade“- and thats where the martket is-not in Bratisladva.
      You can argument as much as u like that bts and vie are not that far apart, but if you would have the choice to fly directly to VIE,if the price is the same, why would you bother to fly BTS which is 60km away?
      In summary, either ryan as well starts flying to VIE, or i dont see them flying to BTS for a very long time

    7. Nemjee10:05

      Anon 10.00

      Thanks. I missed the reductions at BUD, OTP, ATH and WAW. Do you mind sharing them with us?

      Dg, that's actually what I wrote.

    8. It also makes little sense that both w6 and ryanair would start flying to vienna—
      Do not forget that ryanair is also facing problems,: with unions forming all over and strikes etc. they themselves wont be able to sustain their business modell much longer

    9. Nemjee10:17

      It makes even less sense for Ryanair to just hand over a market to their competitors. Ryanair might be facing some issues but they are still generally stable and competitive.

    10. Anonymous10:22

      BUD and WAW will loose their recently launched French cities.
      BUD cuts: BGO, BOD, NCE.
      WAW cuts: BRI, BSL, BLL, BTS (for good), NCE.
      ATH cuts: OTP, SOF, KIV, CLJ, VNO.
      OTP cuts: LIS, GOT, CLJ, GOT but compensated by UK routes.

    11. Nemjee10:27

      Interesting, thank you!

    12. Anonymous10:36

      WAW is also losing GOT and VNO.

      They also close BUD-OTP. OTP lose KUT.

    13. Anonymous11:24

      Anonymous 22 September 2018 at 10:22
      All these are seasonal reductions. They are coming back on the Summer19 schedule.

    14. Anonymous13:09

      Some of them are not like GOT cuts or OTP-BUD/CLJ/KUT

    15. OTP cuts make sense with the great expansion of Blue Air.

    16. Anonymous15:14

      It doesn't make sense, not at all. It shows small crappy Blueair can defeat a monster like Wizz Air!!

    17. "small crappy Blueair" is more than twice the size of ASL and larger than all ex-Yu airlines put together!

    18. Anonymous17:50

      Why are you singling about ASL? Why do you need to bring it into discussion?! Комплекси.

    19. Anonymous17:56

      Both 0B and JU are hybrid low cost carriers, but 0B has a larger capacity because of its B738s.

    20. Blue air is not crappy, it has newer aircraft then Air Serbia, and it offers much more on board like food and drinks included!

    21. Anonymous18:14

      Another airline that seems to be doing well in LH. Today we received at work an e-mail about changes in the equipment.

      Initially FRA-BEG was loaded as double daily A319.

      October: 62 flights planned
      A319: 27 flights
      A320: 33 flights
      A321: 2 flights

      November: 60 flights
      A319: 18 flights
      A320: 36 flights
      A321: 6 flights

      Seems like advance bookings are pretty solid which is strange especially for November.

    22. Anonymous18:15

      No, Air Serbia and BlueAir have the exact same product. The only difference is that JU has a business class and offers free water. Also, BlueAir has archaic B734 and B735 in its fleet.

    23. Anonymous18:36

      Those INI Malmo loads are indeed very poor for a ULCC...70% in November

    24. Anonymous19:31

      I don't understand how you are comparing a 90 year old legacy airline with a cheap, brandless LCC!!

    25. Anonymous22:19

      I think it would be better if LH introduced a few morning flights from FRA in stead of increasing capacity.

    26. Anonymous08:28

      We really need more frequencies for FRA and MUC. Two daily flights are too little. FRA has constantly good loads to/from Belgrade.

  2. Anonymous09:27

    Wow I can't believe it but for once I agree with Vucic. The only thing is they should nhave done those case studies about potential before they built the airports, not after.

    1. Anonymous09:42


    2. Anonymous09:53

      Now that airports are there they should be expanded. Connections to Belgrade/charter flights/cargo/possibly some LCC routes. Among these four some traffic could be generated. Small airports are not about profitability but connectivity.

  3. Anonymous09:28

    I think UZC has much more potential than Kraljevo Airport

    1. Anonymous09:54

      Indeed. Zlatibor and Tara.

  4. Anonymous09:29

    Serbia is creating nice new terminals which I'm sure a lot of airports across ex-Yu would be happy to have. Unfortunately they are all empty.

    1. Anonymous09:37

      Too bad both are collecting dust.

  5. Anonymous09:35

    With the rise of low cost airlines I don't think one should write off these airports. If a good deal is made a LCC could fly to Kraljevo or Uzice instead of say Belgrade or Nis.

    1. Anonymous09:59

      Both Belgrade and Nis markets are too small to be diluted into four airports.
      We are not London, Paris or Moscow, sorry.

    2. Anonymous10:05

      Nobody will stop flying to BEG because of KVO or UZC.

      BEG si simply too profitable for them in ordert to give it up because of some small airport in central Serbia.

      Similiar like INI they should try their luck with ULCC and maybe JU will once open KVO-BEG or UZC-BEG for transfer passengers.

      Ever Scuric wrote recently that one big ULCC is interested for UZC.Once FR or U2 or W6 make success maybe someone like LX, OS or TK might come there.

  6. Anonymous09:40

    Tbh, if the pearl of the South, INI, has failed to sustain a couple of routes then I don't see how the rest of Serbian airports will get there. INI lost Germania, Eindhoven and soon Malmö.
    Airlines like JP or Volotea can base their aircraft in Kraljevo or Uzice. Also Hop! or Iberia Nostrum.

    1. Anonymous09:55

      Volotea would be cool. :)

    2. Anonymous09:57

      Are you serious?
      The companies that did not find interest flying to BEG will open base in KVO or UZC?

      These 2 airports need to find the way how to make themselves fully operational and then to attract ULCC for mostly gasto routes - similiar like INI.

      If it works in the second phase they could think about flight based on export etc.

    3. Anonymous10:08

      Yes, but BEG is home to 3 airlines and there is a huge competition.
      I see Volotea fitting nicely in UZC with secondary French, German and Italian airports.
      Marseille, Montpellier, Lyon, Verona, Schoenefeld, Kassel, etc.

    4. Anonymous10:16

      what a dreamer

    5. Anonymous08:30

      Volotea is all about secondary airports so yes.

    6. Anonymous09:02

      Volotea is primarily about flying travelers from major metropolitan centers of southern Europe to tourist destinations.
      So no, I don't see them serving such routes gusto as Kraljevo-Memmingen or Uzice-Hahn.

  7. Anonymous09:42

    So they have built two empty terminals. Better to have invested that money in building one big one in Nis.

  8. Anonymous09:44

    Complete waste of money these airports

  9. Anonymous09:45

    Well they will easily solve the cap problem for Nis. If they open any of these airports, especially Kraljevo, Nis won't reach a million passengers before Belgrade reaches its target. Nis is currently getting a lot of passengers from central Serbia.

  10. Anonymous09:47

    Uzice could have been a low cost alternative to Sarajevo

    1. Anonymous10:12

      Is there a highway between Uzice and Sarajevo

    2. Anonymous10:15

      No and road connections are poor.

    3. Anonymous11:16

      Juče je sa Turcima Vlada Srbije potpisala sporazum o gradnji autoputa Požega-Užice-granica sa BiH, tako da će u narednih nekoliko godina Užice i Sarajevo biti povezani.

    4. Anonymous14:32

      The new Belgrade - Sarajevo highway will go via Uzice.

    5. Anonymous17:49

      if they r gonna construct this highway with the speed they r constructing the corridor 10, then Sarajevo is going to wait for this alternative airport for a very long time, and i especially hope no landslide will suddenly happen just before the opening of this highway

    6. TheBosnian03:19

      Balkanizam at it´s best.....

      Nevermind Mostar and the newly built Highway between Sarajevo and Hercegovina, who cares about the thoroughly overhauled Neretva valley railway line. Or even that thing called Tuzla airport, still CLOSER to Sarajevo than Uzice....
      Let us all just land at Uzice, have 3 border controls and the shittiest road trip imaginable.....
      Whatever makes "some" people here happy!

  11. Sta bi se moglo dodati ovom tekstu na Ex yu blogu, koji se ponavlja vec vise godina?. Ne mnogo. Otvaranje Kraljevacke Morave jeste neminovno i izvesno. Kao i za Uzicki aerodrom. Ni jedan od ovih, ukljucujuci i Niski nece ugroziti poslovanje Beogradskog Nikole Tesle. Doci do milion putnika na Balkanskom sekundarnom aerodromu je za sada dosta tesko. Medjutim to ce biti moguce u iducoj dekadi. Zbog ulaska vecih investitora u Krusevac, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Cacak, Uzice... Namere i mogucnosti nisko budzetnih prevoznika zavise od ''blagoslova'' onih koji daju odobrenja. Verujmo da ce taj biznis kejs o kome je predsednik Vucic biti zavrsen... Bez obzira sto ce se neko nasmejati, ali jeste realno da ce se posle opravke aerodroma kod Sjenice biti pridruzen u Aerodrome Srbije. i sa njega biti uglavnom kargo i ad hok saobracaj. Nezahvalno je prognozirati kada ce uloziti u Moravu jos deset miliona evra, ali to stoji. Auto putevi se pocinju u Zapadno Moravskoj dolini. Na aerodrom Moravu dolazi red.
    Iz prolecnog Sydneja,
    Rodney Marinkovic Kings Park. 2148 NSW.

  12. Anonymous10:19

    It's a pitty but especially about Morava. That terminal looks better than most other ones in ex-yu

  13. Anonymous10:25

    Actualy, highway is very likely to be built.

  14. Anonymous10:26

    And on top of all this they plan to build an airport in Novi Sad. Crazy.

  15. Anonymous10:59

    Both of these should make a strategic partnership with SHS Aviation and Maribor Airport.

  16. Anonymous11:08

    It's taken them a year to approve funds for a few metres of fence. Jesus

  17. Anonymous11:11

    Sooner or later they will get traffic

  18. Anonymous11:49

    And what is the distance between Uzice and Kraljevo?

    1. Anonymous12:17

      Use google

    2. Anonymous12:38


    3. Anonymous13:32

      That's crazy! You don't build airports so close to each other in a country like Serbiia. Didn't they have some plan before they built these terminals.

    4. Anonymous13:53

      Obviously not.

    5. Naravno da su planirali. I to pomno.....samo sto je cilj plana bio osvojiti izbore

    6. Between UZC and KVO there are 100 km but in Serbia you need almost 2 hours of driving to get there

    7. Anonymous17:52

      oh ok... and thats a reason to build airports at both places... as if people would fly from Uzice to Kraljevo instead of driving?

    8. Anonymous19:34

      Which of the 2 airports has a bigger aporn? Can they be a substitute if an incident happens with BEG just like the MS crash in BEG somewhile ago...


    9. Distances by car
      ZAD-SPU 1h 20 min
      RJK-PUY 1h 34 min
      ZAG-RJK 1h 47 min
      UZC-KVA 1h 53 min

      Nobody will fly from UZC to KVA but to many people it will be much easier to reach one of these airport than the other. That is the point

    10. Anonymous20:53

      KVA had a CRAZY growth this year...its a serious UZC competitor.

    11. Anonymous21:05


    12. Postovani Admin. Hvala vam sto pred nas koji podrzavamo aktiviranje buducih aerodroma Srbije. Drzite na agendi mrtvi kapital investiranog, da bi se pretvorio u namenu. Svakako i prvi aerodrodrom sa terminalom na Moravi. Zanimljivo je da u svojim komentarima, mnogi ljudi navode da se od Kraljeva do aerodroma u Beogradu putuje dva sata!?. Sto nije iskreno. Ibarskom magistralom se vozi tri sata do, i toliko nazad. To je sest sati. Kada bude izgradjen autoput, od Kraljeva ce se putovati sat i dvadeset pet minuta. Plus mininmum 400 dinara putarina, gorivo, parking, hrana. Vreme potrose no za povratni put... Sta je mnoge briga za ove troskove. Jedno je sigurn. Srbija ce se razvijati za dvadeset prvi vek, ne samo sa Jednim koji je najznacajniji Otadzbini. Vec ce otvarati jos sigurno tri u vremenu koje dolazi. Morava i Ponikve su prvi na redu. Nis se poceo dizati iz pepela proslosti. Bez namere da polemisem, aerodromi i avioni su isto za dvadeset prvi vek sto i informatika i drustvene mreze u licnoj komunikaciji. Ocigledno da mnogi ljudi, pa i u toj Srbiji nemogu da shvate vreme prema kome se krecu. Nemogu ni ja. Ponovo hvala vama u redakciji, sto ste podsetili na Aerodrome Srbije. Sa mojih 73 godine zivota, dozivecu i otvaranje i Morave i Ponikvi...
      E sada za buduce aerodrome u Sjenici, Novom Sadu, Trebinju i... Nemorate me drzati za rec. Bog zna. Vi ce te svedoci biti.
      Iskrene i tople pozdrave vazduhoplovnoj bratiji i putnicima Srbije i sveta.
      Rodney pokraj buduceg W.S.A. na Badzeri Kriku. Sydney AUSTRALIA.

    13. Ajmo ekipa, polakse malo. Srbija nije gradila aerodrome na medjusobnoj udaljenosti od 100 km.
      Srbija pokusava ozivjeti vec postojecu infrastrukturu koja je gradjena za neke druge namjene u neko drugo vrijeme.

  19. Anonymous11:57

    Best chance for Morava is to attract Austrian. Austrian should think outside the box to avoid being squeezed by Wizz and Ryan (Laudamotion). Instead of flying only to BEG, OS should send Q400 to LYKV 3 times per week. Austrian offers great connectivity from Vienna, even transatlantic and Asia. No LCC could match that combination of connections and frequencies. No need to invest millions in runway lengthening/widening.


    1. Anonymous12:20

      Agree with you, but I am afraid OS is very conservative regarding to opening routes like KVO or UZC.
      After all they had good chance to fly VIE-INI long before FR and W6 stepped in, but they did not do it.

    2. Anonymous14:39

      Back in the days, they had a go east strategy and covered destinations like KRR, LWO, TBS, IKA, IFN, SYZ, VAR (served for almost 20 years).
      BEG was also always extremely important.

    3. Anonymous18:10

      An alternative is to have Eurowings fly to LYKV. They seem to have 20 Q400 in the fleet, but I'm not sure where exactly these are based. If it's VIE or MUC, it could work.


    4. Anonymous18:20

      cont. Just realised that Eurowing flies DUS-OMO with Q400. So, STR-LYKV could work as well (much shorter than DUS-OMO)

  20. Anonymous10:23

    Ovi aerodromi ih uglavnom koristi vojska Srbije i biznis avijacija koja dolazi u bivse-zastavine fabrike za proizvodnju automobila,u kojim se sad sa najmodrnijom tehnologijom proizvodi model 500.

    1. Anonymous12:30

      If true, I wonder what the difference is in handling 10 pax bus plane and 75pax commercial plane. Do they waive all checks (border, bags) for them ?

  21. Anonymous12:38

    Agreed it's totally crazy to operate these both airports next to each other within a hundred km and eventually lose a lot of money on both compared to losing only little money at one. They need to concentrate on one airport and invest in it so it can get operational. Three airports would be perfect for Serbia.

  22. Anonymous13:16

    Some analysis of catchment areas of airports in Serbia based on 2011 census.


    1. Anonymous13:20

      with KVO summary included now

    2. TheBosnian03:31

      Those 76k in that blue triangle are some poor bastards...


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