Wizz Air, the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, today announced the halving of its Belgrade capacity with the closure of low fare services to Oslo Torp and Brussels Charleroi and the reduction of flight frequencies to other destinations after airport charges rose by 40%, making Belgrade Airport the most expensive in Wizz Air’s base network. The Belgrade routes to Oslo and Brussels will be discontinued from 6 May, and customers with bookings affected by these cuts will be offered a full refund.
Wizz Air’s airbase in Belgrade opened in 2010 with one Airbus A320 and 5 routes. Serbian consumers quickly embraced Wizz Air’s offer of low fares and popular destinations and the airline grew its base by adding a 2 new Airbus A320 in 2012 and by offering 12 international routes as of today. Wizz Air’s passenger traffic at Belgrade Airport increased by over 800% from 2010 to over 480,000 passengers in 2013, while the overall airport traffic grew by 31%*, making Wizz Air the driving force of passenger growth. The continued access of Serbian consumers to low cost air travel is now jeopardized by the airport’s refusal to further incentivize low cost air travel, affordable to all consumers. Instead, the airport prepared a tailor made incentive scheme that protects one high fare airline and its transfer passenger focused business model. Wizz Air regrets this decision as it does not benefit those passengers seeking the lowest fares. The Belgrade based aircraft will now be based in Latvia’s capital Riga, where airport costs don’t protect high fare airlines and air traffic can be stimulated by giving consumers access to low fares.
John Stephenson, Executive Vice President, said: "Today is a sad day for Serbian consumers and for Serbian tourism. We believe that access to low fare air travel is good for Serbia but sadly this belief is not shared by Belgrade Airport. As one of the most expensive airports in Europe it should incentivize low cost air travel instead of unfairly protecting high fare wannabe monopolist Etihad/Air Serbia. Wizz Air was willing to grow traffic and low fare services in Serbia, but regrettably we now must take one of the two Belgrade based Airbus A320 to Latvia where low cost flights are welcomed and where a vision for passenger growth exists. The loss of half of our Belgrade capacity is reversible if Belgrade Airport reduces costs and competes with other, cheaper airports in the region.”