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Belgrade Airport anticipates record winter

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is preparing for what is likely to be one of its busiest winter seasons on record. Many airlines serving Serbia’s busiest airport have announced frequency increases this winter while the launch of Air Serbia will see a major boost in flight operations over the coming months. This Thursday, the national carrier of Belarus, Belavia, will launch flights from Minsk to Belgrade via Budapest. The equipment for the two weekly service has been upgraded from the initial Bombardier CRJ200 to the Embraer E175. The carrier has received fifth freedom rights between Budapest and Belgrade.
This winter, Turkish Airlines plans to introduce a third daily flight to the Serbian capital on selected days, boosting frequencies to seventeen flights per week. Alitalia will also boost operation with a total of ten weekly flights planned for the winter while Russia’s Aeroflot will maintain its summer schedule and operate two daily flights between Moscow and Belgrade. Qatar Airways will add another weekly flight via Ankara, totalling four services per week. In addition, in mid December, Swiss International Airlines will inaugurate flights from Geneva to Belgrade. LOT Polish Airlines has decided to turn its seasonal summer service to the Serbian capital into yearlong flights and will continue its operations from Warsaw to Belgrade this winter. Unlike last winter, Belgrade will also be served by this year’s new arrivals – Etihad Airways, Pegasus Airlines and easyJet while Wizz Air will be operating several new routes it launched over the summer. By June 2014, Air Serbia plans to offer 73.000 seats and 670 weekly departures from Belgrade, starting its expansion this winter by launching new services and significantly boosting its frequencies on existing destinations.

In the first eight months of the year Belgrade Airport has handled 2.380.911 passengers, an increase of 3.4% compared to the same period last year. In August alone the airport welcomed 441.088 passengers, up 7.2%, and marked August 2 as its busiest day in history. During the month, Jat maintained a 44% share of all passengers using the airport, followed by Wizz Air at 12.9% and Montenegro Airlines at 7%. Compared to last August, Tunis Air saw the greatest passenger increase rate on its flights from Tunis and Enfidha to Belgrade.

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Belgrade Airport plummets in April

Belgrade Airport plummets in April

As May comes to a close, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has recorded a passenger plunge in April. Last month, Serbia’s busiest airport welcomed 251.873 passengers, down 5.7% compared to April 2012. As a result, the airport has recorded its largest drop in monthly passenger figures so far this year. Fuelling the passenger plunge was Jat Airways which saw its numbers decrease by 16% in April due to flight reductions across its network. Foreign carriers operating to the Serbian capital managed to see their numbers improve compared to last April. An additional factor was the Orthodox Easter holiday, which was observed in mid April last year while it was marked in May this year.

So far this year, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport handled 855.597 passengers, a decrease of 1.8% compared to the same period last year. The airport is maintaining its position as the busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia, some 227.000 passengers ahead of second placed Zagreb Airport. Despite Jat’s woes, preliminary figures indicate the airport is on course to handle a record number of passengers in May. Working in the airport’s favour were the combined May Day and Easter public holidays as well as charter airlines launching their summer flights to the city during the month.

Meanwhile, construction work at the airport is continuing as part of the multimillion euro upgrades taking place. The expansion of the airport’s C apron, which will see an additional four parking spaces for commercial aircraft, is nearing completion and should be in operation by midsummer. The C apron, used by terminal two, features six air bridges. The added parking spaces will be used by smaller regional jets and will increase capacity by 17%. The investment is worth 2.6 million euros. In addition, on June 3 the foundations for new glass air bridges, to be used by terminal one, will be laid while in two weeks time the airport will end its long running procedure of double security checks.

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Belgrade Airport returns to growth

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport recorded passenger growth in March for the first time this year despite a significant fall in the number of operated flights. Serbia’s busiest airport handled 220.278 passengers, an increase of 2% compared to last year’s 216.025. On the other hand, the number of arriving and departing flights to and from Belgrade plunged by 10% from 3.457 last year, to 3.110 in 2013. In the first quarter, Belgrade welcomed 603.724 passengers, just down on last year’s 604.210, or a 0.1% decrease. Passenger numbers at Belgrade have been hit by Jat’s major network reductions as it struggles with a fleet shortage.

With busier months approaching, the airport hopes that numbers will pick up. Wizz Air has announced it will not be resuming its seasonal service from Belgrade to Rome this summer. The service was converted into a seasonal only flight at the end of last summer. However, the low cost airline has decided to completely discontinue the service. Both Alitalia and Jat Airways continue to operate the Rome route. Nevertheless, Wizz will launch flights from Belgrade to Beauvais, Oslo Torp, Corfu and Rhodes in the coming months. Furthermore, summer charters are set to begin soon with Sky Airlines and Pegasus operating services from Antalya, Nesma Airlines, Air Cairo and Midwest Airlines from Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh, Tunis Air from Enfidha as well as numerous charters to be operated by Jat. During the summer Etihad Airways will also launch flights to the Serbian capital.

Meanwhile, Niš Constantine the Great Airport handled 1.113 passengers in March, a 34% plunge compared to the same month last year. Recently, Montenegro Airlines agreed to continue flying to the city five times per week from Podgorica after settling a dispute over subsidies with local authorities. At the end of this month Mistral Air will launch flights from Trieste to Niš in a European Union funded project. During the summer, Sky Airlines will launch regular charters from Antalya to the city. In the first quarter Niš Airport welcomed 3.753 passengers, down 23% on last year.

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Jat Tehnika in Airbus deal

Jat Tehnika and Airbus will set up a new training centre in Belgrade ahead of the maintenance company receiving necessary certificates to service jets from the European plane manufacturer. A training centre for some 200 local mechanics and 50 engineers for the Airbus A310 and A320 aircraft will be opened in the Serbian capital following the agreement signed last week in Toulouse.

Between October and December this year Jat Tehnika will receive the necessary certificates to service Airbus jets after which the training centre will become Airbus’ regional centre for training both local and foreign mechanics and engineers. “This will open up a big market for us because some 60% of air traffic in the region in south eastern Europe is carried out with Airbus jets”, Srdjan Mišković, Jat Tehnika CEO said. The new Airbus license is expected to see Jat Tehnika’s revenue rise by 30%. The maintenance company already services Boeing and ATR aircraft.

Simultaneously, the largest of three Tehnika hangars at Belgrade Airport will finally be completed after more than two decades. While the hangar is in use, it’s construction has never officially come to an end. Two hangars are used for medium sized aircraft and can fit three jets each at one single time while the third hangar is for larger aircraft and can fit two Boeing 747-400s. Besides Jat, the company currently provides maintenance to airlines such as, NordStar Airlines, Astraeus Airlines and Transaero. Earlier this year the Serbian government approved a five million euro loan to finance the completion of the facility.

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Belgrade Airport surpasses million mark

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport handled 284.522 passengers in May, just over 21.500 more than the same month last year. As a result, the airport recorded an 8.2% passenger increase, despite a fall in the number of operated flights. There were a total of 3.744 departures and arrivals, down 2.6% on May last year. Two airlines operating flights from Belgrade stood out in May. They were Jat Airways and Wizz Air, both of which had a sensational month. Montenegro Airlines is also regaining momentum on its flights to and from Serbia’s capital.

During May, Belgrade managed to break the one million passenger mark. In the first five months of the year the airport welcomed 1.156.086 passengers, up 11.8% compared to the same period last year. May 2012 marks the airport’s 26th month of consecutive growth with the last decline recorded back in 2010 during the Icelandic ash cloud drama.

The airport expects that its passenger numbers will be propped up over the summer by numerous charter flights. According to the General Director, Velimir Radosavljević, the airport will see a 20% increase in charter flights in the coming months. Aviogenex, has begun operating services out of Belgrade with two Boeing 737-900ER jets leased from Turkey’s Sky Airlines for the summer season. Other airlines operating charters to the Serbian capital include Air Cairo, Tunisair, Pegasus Airlines, Nesma Airlines and Jat Airways. The majority of the charters will be heading to Turkey, followed by Egypt, Greece and Tunisia, although, there will also be charters to Spain and Italy as well.

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No slowing down for Belgrade

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has recorded its 25th month of consecutive growth, as the airport looks to end the year with a record numbers of passengers. Serbia’s busiest hub welcomed 267.354 passengers, 27.072 more than the same month last year or an increase of 11.3%. The airport recorded a total of 3.627 flights departing and arriving, up 4.3%. During the first four months of the year Nikola Tesla Airport saw 871.564 passengers pass through its doors, which is 100.911 passengers more than the same period last year.

Growth in April was fuelled by Jat Airways which had an exceptional month passenger wise. In a statement the airport says, “In the following months we expect to see significant growth in traffic. We predict that this year almost 3.5 million passengers will be registered at Belgrade Airport. With the airport celebrating its 50th anniversary it will mark a historic record”. Belgrade Airport’s busiest year was 1987, considered the golden year of Yugoslav aviation. During that year, the airport welcomed 3.311.951 passengers.

At some stage during this month Belgrade will surpass the one million passenger mark. Commenting on recent news that the world’s largest aviation handling company, Swissport, will soon begin operations at Nikola Tesla, the airport says that it looks forward to more competition and that the arrival of the handling giant will fuel even more interest from foreign airlines. It adds that it has already revised its handling prices in order to compete. Airlines will have the choice between three handling companies at the airport. Besides Swissport, at hand will be Belgrade Airport handling as well as SU-PORT, which is a Jat subsidiary.

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New control tower at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport

The Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency has announced that it will finance the construction of a new control tower at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. Construction will begin next year and is set to be completed by 2014. According to the agency, the land on which the tower will be built has been selected and work on the project design is now in progress. The new tower will stand at 52 metres tall. The current air control tower, being used at Serbia’s busiest airport, was built back in 1962. In 2010 the multi million euro Air Control Centre was opened within the airport complex.

Meanwhile, Belgrade Airport continued to report growth in 2012. In February the airport welcomed 173.606 passengers, an increase of 6.6% compared to the same month last year when it handled 162.813 passengers. The airport was served almost by the same amount of flights – 2.988 compared to last year’s 3.010. In the first two months of the year, Nikola Tesla Airport welcomed 388.185 passengers through its doors, an increase of 13.7% compared to the same period last year.

This summer, Belgrade will see new Croatia Airlines flights to Split which replace Dubrovnik from last year, new flights from Copenhagen by Norwegian Air Shuttle, a 23% increase in flights from Jat Airways while Air One and Qatar Airways will also launch flights to the Serbian capital this summer season.

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