Wizz Air will introduce thirteen new routes in the former Yugoslavia this summer from four different cities and open its third base in the region.
The major expansion begins in less than a month as the airline positions itself as the leading low cost carrier in the former Yugoslavia. This summer, Wizz Air will base its third aircraft in Skopje and introduce five new routes from the Macedonian capital. In addition, the airline will inaugurate seasonal services from the country’s second international airport – Ohrid. All of the new routes will be subsidised by the Macedonian government, which has drawn criticism from nearby Pristina Airport. It has accused Skopje of distorting competition, but has also expressed hope to attract the no frills carrier itself.
However, Albanian media have reported that Wizz Air has voiced interest to fly to Kukes Airport, in the country’s north-east, close to the Macedonian border, as well as Pristina. Potential flights could be launched following the annulment of an exclusivity contract between the Albanian government and the German part-owners of Tirana Airport, which currently allows for commercial flights to operate only into the country’s capital. The Albanian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Edmond Haxhinasto, says talks with Tirana Airport are nearing completion and is confident the monopoly will be dispersed. The airport in Kukes, named after the late ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was opened in 2010. Its close proximity to both Pristina and Skopje could alter Wizz Air’s plans in the region. Currently, Wizz Air attracts a significant number of travellers from Kosovo and northern Albania on its flights from Skopje.
Following a year of downsizing, Wizz Air will be expanding its presence in Serbia with the introduction of flights from Niš, in the country’s south-east. The airline will operate services from Malmo and Basel, becoming Niš Airport’s only scheduled customer. City officials have previously said the airline is considering introducing flights from Memmingen towards the end of the year or in early 2016. Local authorities have signed a three-year commercial contract with the low cost airline. Coupled with its Belgrade base, Wizz Air will offer a total of twelve destinations to seven countries from Serbia starting next month. The airline has emphasised that its presence in the country’s south-east will not impact on its operations in Belgrade. It said, “This does not mean we are growing without Belgrade – we are not interested in moving”.
Finally, Tuzla Airport is preparing to become Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first low cost base. Close to 200.000 passengers are expected to pass through the doors of the once deserted airport during 2015. Wizz Air will base an Airbus A320 aircraft in Tuzla from late June. It will launch new flights to Frankfurt Hahn, Sandefjord, Memmingen and Stockholm Skavsta. With these new services, the budget airline will offer a total of nine routes to five countries from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third largest city. It already maintains flights to Tuzla from Malmo, Basel, Dortmund, Gothenburg and Eindhoven. “During 2015, Tuzla Airport will meet all technical and other contractual obligations it has with Wizz Air, with the aim of becoming the airline’s regional hub”, Tuzla Airport’s Managing Director, Rifet Karasalihović, said recently.
As of next month, Wizz Air will have three bases in the former Yugoslavia – Skopje, Belgrade and Tuzla – and will maintain flights to Ljubljana, Niš, Ohrid and Split as well.
Source: EX YU Aviation News