Wizz Air announced the opening of its 41st base in Sarajevo last week with plans to station an Airbus A320 aircraft in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina by May 20th. This will result in the launch of nine new lines and the addition of 250,000 seats in and out of Sarajevo this year. However, the expansion of Wizz Air is expected to have an impact on both Croatia Airlines and Air Serbia, which rely on a significant number of transfer passengers on their flights to and from Sarajevo. Although neither of the two carriers is in any way the busiest airlines from Bosnia and Herzegovina, they have a dominant position on the lines that Wizz Air plans to introduce. The budget airline will launch flights to Charleroi, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Gothenburg, London Luton, Memmingen, Basel and Beauvais.
As exyuaviation.com reports, during the last normal year in commercial aviation, in 2019, Turkish Airlines was the largest transfer carrier in Sarajevo, transporting 21% of all connecting passengers. It was closely followed by Austrian Airlines with 20%, Pegasus with 13% and Lufthansa with 11% market share. Croatia Airlines handled 7% of all connecting traffic, while Air Serbia stood at only 3%. The situation shifted somewhat in 2020. While Turkish Airlines remained the busiest carrier of supplies, Air Serbia increased its share of the transfer to 6%, while Croatia Airlines’ position remained unchanged. However, the two national carriers are predominant on a number of routes which will now be covered by Wizz Air, which is expected to have an effect on their cargo as well.
In 2019, Air Serbia saw the most connecting traffic to and from Sarajevo from Amsterdam, followed by Paris, Zurich, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Wizz Air is seeking to cover Amsterdam through its operations in Eindhoven, Zurich via Basel, which is just over ninety kilometers from Switzerland’s largest city, and Paris, which will be served outside Beauvais. On the other hand, Croatia Airlines’ main points of origin or destination for Sarajevo were Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam, Skopje, London, Paris and Brussels. Croatia Airlines and Air Serbia are almost connected in their share of transfer traffic on flights to Amsterdam (Croatia Airlines second and Air Serbia third after Austrian), as well as Paris (Air Serbia second, Croatia Airlines third after Austrian). Air Serbia dominates transfers in Copenhagen with 60% of the market, while Croatia Airlines leads in transfers to Zurich (second after Austria) and Brussels (second after Lufthansa).
Both Croatian Airlines and Air Serbia saw their operations affected in Skopje after Wizz Air established a base in the capital of Northern Macedonia and began to significantly expand its operations. However, the opening of the Wizz Air base is expected to have the biggest impact on bus coaches who remain a popular choice for international travel for many people. Moreover, the budget airline is expected to generate a new group of passengers, as has been the case in all the markets of the former Yugoslavia in which it has deployed aircraft.