|Wizz Air’s Tuzla base to cover Serbia and Croatia|
Low cost airline Wizz Air will open a regional base for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia at Tuzla Airport from June 1, 2015, local authorities have said. The no frills carrier will base one of its aircraft in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third largest city and operate 25 weekly flights. It expects to handle some 300.000 passengers per year. “This means they [Wizz Air] will base one to two aircraft in Tuzla, with more jobs to be created and at least two new destinations to be launched”, Mustafa Isabegović, Tuzla Canton’s Minister for Transport, said. The low cost airline launched services to the Bosnian city last summer and is the only carrier offering scheduled flights out of Tuzla. It currently serves the city from Malmo, Basel, Dortmund, Gothenburg and Eindhoven.
It is unknown whether Wizz Air’s expansion in Tuzla will affect its operations at nearby Belgrade Airport, where it also has an operational base, as well as potential flights to Croatia. The carrier’s expansion in Serbia was abruptly halted earlier this year when the airport discontinued its benefits for the airline and hiked fees. At the time, Wizz Air said Belgrade had become the most expensive airport in its destination network. However, the no frills carrier recently confirmed it was also in talks with Niš Constantine the Great Airport, in Serbia’s south-east, to launch flights to the city during the 2015 summer season. On the other hand, the airline has a limited presence in Croatia. Following a brief and unsuccessful stint in Zagreb, it now operates only seasonal flights to Split.
Over the past nine months, Tuzla Airport handled 109.160 passengers, an increase of 182.5% compared to the same period last year. Prior to Wizz Air’s arrival, the airport was mostly deserted since it opened its doors for commercial traffic in 2008. The airline’s CEO, Josef Varadi, recently said, “Introducing flights from Tuzla and increasing services later on is indicative of the strong cooperation we have and we think it is time for the next phase”. According to Bosnia's Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, Wizz Air is considering launching flights to Sarajevo. Talks between the budget airline and Sarajevo Airport are in progress, with the carrier’s CEO indicating services from three different cities could be launched to the Bosnian capital during the 2015 summer season.