Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport will offer a combined total of over one million seats in a single month on flights to and from Serbia’s capital this August for the first time in its 65-year history. A record 1.022.220 seats are available on 7.231 scheduled flights next month (this includes both inbound and outbound services). It represents an increase in capacity of 27% on its previous best result achieved in August 2019 and a 17.7% increase in the number of operated flights. Air Serbia will hold 55.5% of total scheduled capacity followed by Wizz Air, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Swiss, Austrian and Flydubai.
The biggest percentile increase in capacity on last year, if new arrivals such as airBaltic and Jazeera Airways are excluded, will be recorded by Hainan Airlines, Eurowings and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, while in absolute terms Air Serbia will be adding the most capacity, an additional 183.300 seats, followed by Wizz Air with an extra 56.790 seats and Lufthansa with an additional 13.528 seats. Airlines with the biggest decline in available capacity, if those that discontinued operations since last year are excluded, such as Air France and Vueling, are Arkia and easyJet, down 59% and 26% respectively on August 2022. Istanbul’s main airport will just pip Zurich for having the largest number of seats from Belgrade next month, followed by Tivat, Vienna, Frankfurt, Larnaca and Barcelona.
The significant increase in traffic comes as Belgrade Airport continues to deal with operational difficulties. In addition to its ongoing expansion and overhaul project, the airport is facing a staff shortage, most notably in its baggage handling department, which is causing delays, primarily on Air Serbia flights. It has also resulted in significant amounts of lost luggage, mainly for Air Serbia’s transfer passengers as there is not enough staff to load, offload and transport luggage between two connecting flights, causing a significant backlog of stored bags which are taking days, and in some cases weeks, to be delivered to their owners. Although new personnel are being hired, the pace at which new employees are joining in a market already experiencing a low unemployment rate, cannot keep up with the significant increase in demand. Furthermore, frequent severe weather throughout the past two months, causing a ban on aircraft refuelling for safety reasons, has also led to delays.