The ownership of Konstantin Veliki Airport in Nis has been transferred from the local government to the central government. This was a development decision motivated by the fact that the airport needs large investments and the government is now able to make them, Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic said on April 3 during her visit to Nis.
According to officials, the airport is not able to make any development move or investment on its own yet and badly needs help from the general government’s pocket. So far, it operates mainly thanks to donations from the general government budget.
However, the move has angered local citizens, hundreds of whom ’welcomed’ Mihajlovic with whistles, even though the ownership transfer won’t bring any concrete changes to citizens’ lives.
Nis is the closest airport to citizens in the eastern and southern parts of the country, but it was famous until 2015 as an airport without travellers. Instead, numerous Serbs opted to travel via Skopje in neighbouring Macedonia. However, regular air traffic resumed in June 2015 after a 19-month break when Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air started operating flights from Nis to Basel.
“Serbia’s government sees Nis as a transport hub, which is important in strategic and security terms, and our aim is to accelerate the town’s development. The airport stays in Nis, flights will be continued, employed will remain on their jobs and their number will increase and air companies will still have their contracts and prices envisaged by that deals,” Mihajlovic underlined.
“If we don’t invest in Nis airport, we will stay at 350,000 passengers but if we keep investing we will have 650,000 by 2021 and 750,000 by 2027,” Mihajlovic said.
Konstantin Veliki Airport managed to break its all-time record regarding the number of passengers on August 18, when 200,000 passengers travelled through the airport, the company announced.
“Our assessment is that another €15mn should be invested in Konstantin Veliki to bring it into line with airports in the region. We don’t have 10 years to wait for the Nis local government to invest €10mn, and nor is it possible for investments, which are important especially for safety standards to be met, by donations, as it has been until now,” Mihajlovic added.
According to the minister, Serbia’s government has poured €3.6mn into the airport within the last three years, while Nis’s government invested additional €2mn through subsidies thanks to which the airport now has 331,000 passengers.
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