Rumours about the revival of flight operations from the Banja Luka International Airport are confirmed. The largest low-cost European airline, Ryanair, announced it starts connections from Banja Luka to Charleroi Airport in Belgium and Memmingen in Germany.
The first flight to Charleroi is expected on October 29 and to Memmingen a day later. After that, Charleroi flights will be weekly, on Mondays and Fridays and to Memmingen on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Acting Director of Banja Luka International Airport, Duško Kovačević, said that this is a great day for the airport, the city of Banja Luka, Republika Srpska and BiH.
“Our citizens will have the opportunity, through Charleroi and Memmingen, to connect with more than 90 destinations in several European countries. Young people will travel more and our friends from Europe will be able to come to our country more easily to discover the beauties of Banja Luka and the region, the attraction of our unique rivers and mountains, as well as the hospitality of our people,” Kovačević stressed while speaking to local media.
Ryanair Sales and Marketing Director, Olga Pavlonka, said that the company is pleased to announce its first flights to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina, their 37th country. She pointed out that the clients will have the opportunity to enjoy lower prices and benefits according to the “Always better” Ryanair policy.
Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Executive for Belgium, Helene Begasse, said that the new route (to Belgium’s Charleroi) marks Ryanair’s entry into Bosnia and Herzegovina, and will operate twice a week, as mentioned before, as part of its 2018 winter flight programme. Ryanair held talks with the Banja Luka Airport administration back in 2006, however, they were not fruitful. Furthermore, this low-cost company had also negotiated with both Mostar and Tuzla airports in the past, over potential services, with flights from Hahn and Weeze suggested for the latter at the time.
Ryanair also operates in Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Banja Luka Airport has been long criticised by the public since the Republika Srpska Government has been giving a significant amount of money from the ‘state’ budget to keep it alive, but there are just two weekly flights to Belgrade. The management was not willing to negotiate with low-cost companies since they were demanding large benefits while there is no significant income for the Airport. But, times changed and the Banja Luka International Airport had to do something to shake things up and enable people to fly to more destination in Europe. Many BiH citizens from RS live and work in EU countries and use the Tuzla International Airport and its WizzAir services. But, upon arrival in Tuzla, they must pay the transport fee to get to Banja Luka or reach other cities.
If everything goes as planned, from June on there will be routes from Banja Luka to Antalya, in Turkey and charter services to Tivat, in Montenegro… / IBNA