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Belgrade Airport presents its future growth and development plans

Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport is at a crossroads as it undergoes the biggest redevelopment and infrastructure expansion since it opened, while continuing its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Its managing director, François Berisot, told EX-YU Aviation News: “The pace of recovery of Belgrade airport, even during the pandemic, was higher than the regional and European average. The local market showed great resilience in the face of the restrictions and people were ready to travel again as soon as the first opportunity arose, both for business and leisure. 2022 is a very dynamic year as almost all destinations from 2019 have been restored and no less than sixteen new routes have been added, including eight for our national carrier, Air Serbia. If we take into account charter flights to the most popular summer destinations this season, we offer more than 100 destinations from Belgrade airport. Thanks to all of this effort, we are currently trading at around 85% of 2019 traffic levels.”

Commenting on the arrival of new airlines and the airport’s potential to attract several large European legacy carriers that do not currently serve the Serbian capital, Mr Berisot said: “We are watching the market evolve, as well as the demand customers, in order to develop the destination network and connectivity. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is already well connected to major European hubs with several large traditional companies present. We are in regular contact with other carriers and are open to cooperation. Yet it comes down to the airline’s decision whether or not to introduce flights, depending on its business plans.”

Air Serbia is expected to expand its long-haul network over the coming months, as the airport works with the national carrier, as well as foreign airlines, to further expand its long-haul destination offering. “The development of long-haul traffic obviously benefits the airport, the passengers, the whole market and the region. Demand to North America is near pre-pandemic levels. It also exists for the Far East, but the markets must open up to facilitate travel. Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines already launched weekly non-stop flights between Belgrade and Beijing in July,” Berisot said. He added: “Air Serbia’s hub strategy is aligned with Belgrade Airport’s efforts to support long-haul traffic. The national carrier has already announced plans for the introduction of flights to Chicago in April next year and additional services to New York. Of course, we are in constant talks with all the companies likely to meet the existing demand for intercontinental flights. Major infrastructure works at the airport aim to support traffic growth and our expansion program is adding landside and airside capacity. VINCI Airports is continuing its proactive policy to boost traffic and meet passenger expectations by accelerating new improvements at Nikola Tesla airport”.

Central processor building under construction

Redevelopment of the access platform

Reconstruction of the door

Earlier this year, the airport opened the extension of its C Pier, while work is underway on major projects including the central processing facility, access roads and the inserted runway. “Our passengers, partners and employees have given us very positive feedback on the new terminal extension, as it brings many improvements in terms of both comfort and process. This area is a showcase of what the entire terminal will look like for the foreseeable future. Quai C’s first retail and restaurant facility has already opened. Certain commercial premises are linked to the deadlines for the final completion of other work in the terminal, due to contracts with operators who will manage installations on several sites. According to the VINCI Airports concept, rolled out across the entire network, the emphasis is on promoting local offers mixed with world-renowned brands,” explained Mr. Berisot. He added: “Our new arrivals floor has allowed us to introduce the open door concept to existing parts of our terminal building, which has already paved the way for new catering and retail offerings. The next phases of reconstruction and expansion will bring a completely new commercial place in the central terminal and additional space for the introduction of various contents. This will materialize in the course of 2023”.

New food and beverage facility at Pier A

New catering facility at Pier C

New retail facility at Pier A

Construction work has been underway on the redevelopment of the entire area in front of the terminal since November 2021. long and long-term parking. The car parks will be equipped with an LED lighting system and chargers for electric vehicles. “Premium parking spaces” will also be available and additional parking spaces for passengers with reduced mobility. This will significantly improve the quality of service, comfort and accessibility. Work is being undertaken in phases, and we expect the landside contact car parks and access roads to be completed before the next summer season in 2023,” Mr Berisot said. He noted, “As for the inserted track, the final works are in progress, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2022 and put into operation in the first quarter of 2023, while the reconstruction of the existing track is to be completed by the end of 2023. Once completed, the inserted runway will remain in use as a parallel taxiway and contribute to the increased operational capabilities of the airport”.