Wizz Air and Sarajevo Airport talks stall


Negotiations between Sarajevo Airport and Wizz Air over the carrier's potential operations from the Bosnian capital have stalled over high fees.

The low cost airline announced last spring it was resuming talks with the airport's management, following a failed attempt to negotiate new flights in 2015. However, the two sides have again clashed over the same issue. Wizz Air planned to launch several routes from Sarajevo, among which was Budapest.

Both the airline's and airport's management held a preliminary meeting in May, with talks continuing in June, however, there has been little progress since. The low cost airline previously said, “After Tuzla, which continues to be our main base in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we intend on establishing flights from Sarajevo, which we consider a very important destination. Furthermore, we are also interested in investing in Sarajevo Airport”.

Since the talks, Wizz Air has put a greater focus on its Tuzla base operations and will launch several new routes and station a second aircraft in the city next year. The airline's CEO, Jozsef Varadi, noted recently, “We need to make a proper commercial agreement with Sarajevo. We are in talks with Sarajevo Airport but they are simply too expensive. They need to lower their costs”. He added, “We are highly excited for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Wizz Air is very well suited for that environment and we hope to replicate the success in Tuzla across Bosnia. The country is absolutely right for our business plan”.

Sarajevo Airport has continuously played down the talks noting it was analysing “all options” when it came to future cooperation with the budget airline and that negotiations were at an “early stage”.

Low cost carriers have generally avoided Sarajevo Airport due to a double tax surcharge. Apart from a standard eighteen euro fee per passenger, travellers are also subjected to an additional ten euro Federal tax, introduced in 2005.

However, both Tuzla and Mostar airports have been exempt from the additional charge. “The Federal government's unwillingness to abolish the tax and Sarajevo Airport's reluctance to reduce its own fees are the main reason why so few low cost airlines operate services to the city”, a spokesperson for the Sarajevo Tourist Board said, noting that budget carriers would provide a vital boost to the city's economy and tourism sector. Currently, Eurowings and Norwegian Air Shuttle are the only low cost carriers flying to Sarajevo. They are accompanied by hybrid airline Flydubai, Ex-Yu Aviation News reports.