Wizz Air has said it is committed to the Balkans after announcing the “difficult decision” to close its base in Tuzla launched back in 2015. The airline will continue to maintain four of its fifteen most profitable routes from Tuzla past mid-September, however, all will be operated inbound by aircraft from other bases. “Wizz Air remains committed to long-term growth in the Balkan region, creating hundreds of jobs while also stimulating the tourism and hospitality industries. In the past twelve months, Wizz Air has announced the allocation of new aircraft to Tirana, Skopje, Belgrade, and launch of new routes to the UK, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Greece, Spain and many more”, the carrier said. It added, “The challenging macroeconomic environment, along with complicated weather conditions in the region, such as frequent fogs which affect operational performance heavily, have, unfortunately, made it impossible to operate a large network from Tuzla Airport and base our aircraft there. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience that this will cause”.
Over the past eight months, Wizz Air has terminated a total of thirty routes from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the bulk of which were operated from its base in Sarajevo closed in November of last year. The airline will also terminate flights from Stockholm Skavsta to Banja Luka on August 28, while services from Hamburg to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city will be suspended from late October. As a result, the budget airline will maintain just two routes to Banja Luka over the coming winter. The carrier currently has a contract in place with Banja Luka Airport until the start of the 2024 summer season, which begins in late March of next year. On the other hand, Wizz Air will restore flights from London Luton to Sarajevo in late September, for a total of two destinations from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, one of which is operated by Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Ryanair recently said it plans to significantly grow in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), including the Balkans in an apparent challenge to Wizz Air, which dominates in the region. “We want to focus very much on this region. We see that this is going to be a large part of our upcoming expansion. It’s pretty hard at this moment to say about the exact numbers, but we hope that the whole region is going to grow at least by 50%”, the airline said. Ryanair operates in four out of seven markets in the former Yugoslavia, the only exceptions being Slovenia, Macedonia and Kosovo. Wizz Air is the largest low cost carrier in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia, with Ryanair having the upper hand in Croatia and Montenegro.