Sarajevo launches airline subsidies, targets 26 routes

Sarajevo Airport has issued a public call to airlines for the introduction of new routes in return for subsidies. The funds will be distributed to an airline or carriers willing to base aircraft in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, those launching flights to cities within Europe deemed to be of strategic importance, as well as those operating long-haul flights from Sarajevo, i.e., services of over six hours. However, the airport is primarily targeting the introduction of 26 European destinations, some of which are already served. These include Berlin, Memmingen, Malmo, Copenhagen, Paris, Basel, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, London, Brussels, Rome, Milan, Budapest, Prague, Barcelona, Madrid, Geneva, Bari, Lisbon, Dusseldorf, Athens, Tirana, Skopje, Izmir, Antalya and Podgorica. Outside of Europe, the airport is targeting flights from China (including Hong Kong), Singapore, Lebanon, Japan, Jordan, India, Israel, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as any destination in North America.

Local authorities have allocated some 225.000 euros in subsidies and the amount an airline can get depends on the number of destinations launched, the type of destinations introduced, as well as the offered frequencies. Airlines eligible to apply for the public call, which runs until September 4, will be selected if they launch at least one of the 26 routes of strategic importance, maintain at least two weekly flights on the selected route or routes, project to carry a minimum of 100.000 passengers to/from Sarajevo and operate with an aircraft that has the capacity to seat at least 100 people. Priority will be given to carriers willing to establish a base in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, airlines launching flights from unserved destinations, carriers commencing services from European destinations from the list above, then those increasing frequencies on existing routes, and finally those launching long-haul services.
The development comes after Sarajevo Airport issued a public call late last year for an airline to station an aircraft in the city in return for incentives for which one carrier applied. Although the name of the airline has never been revealed, the airport confirmed it was a non-European company that could not secure permits to operate out of Bosnia and Herzegovina to third countries. Wizz Air’s base closure in Sarajevo late last year has had an impact on the airport’s passenger performance. It is one of the rare European capital city airports to have registered a decline in figures during the first half of the year when compared to the same period in 2022, part of which was still impacted by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

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