Taxes pose obstacle for Wizz Air’s Sarajevo endeavour

The general director of Sarajevo Airport, Ivan Veličan, has confirmed that talks between the airport and the low cost airline Wizz Air have collapsed. “We were in negotiations with Wizz Air, however, all of the low cost companies place great demands upon the airport”, the general director says. He adds that Wizz will avoid the Bosnian capital for the time being due to taxes. However, Veličan explains that if the airport was to reduce taxes for Wizz Air it would have to do so for all other airlines, which wouldn’t be viable. He notes that the airport’s only source of income is the passenger services tax which amounts to 18 euros. Sarajevo is not entirely without no frills airlines. Both Germanwings and Norwegian Air Shuttle operate flights to Bosnia’s busiest airport, although both are now classified as semi low cost carriers.

Several weeks ago it was announced that a low cost airline was looking into launching flights to Sarajevo from London, Rome, Dusseldorf as well as Sweden, with Wizz Air tipped as being the interested party. The low cost Vienna based Niki also recently announced it was looking into launching flights to Sarajevo after crunching its numbers. Since then there has been no news on the possible new service.

Despite the absence of low cost airlines, Sarajevo has been enjoying a bounty of charter flights this summer season along with Mostar Airport. The vast majority carry Christian pilgrims visiting the Medjugorje sight. The Lebanese national carrier Middle East Airlines operates a one weekly charter service from Beirut with its Airbus A321. Furthermore, Sarajevo Airport has also seen a boom in charter flights from Turkey this season. Veličan says that today Sarajevo is served from more destinations than ever before. However, he notes that Sarajevo must also develop into a tourist destination in order to see sustainable growth. “All air traffic here is based on visits from our diaspora as well as employees from international organizations whose number used to be much larger”, the general director concludes.

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