Morava Airport Closes Hitting Air Serbia Services

Serbia has shut its Morava Airport in Kraljevo as a measure intended to curb the spread coronavirus. The announcement was made by the airport on March 12th. So which services are affected?

Morava Airport Closes Hitting Air Serbia Services
Air Serbia is paid over five million Euros to serve the airport. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia

Morava Airport (Kraljevo) only just opened

Morava Airport in Kraljevo is located in central Serbia. It used to be a military base in Yugoslavia until it was badly damaged in the 1999 NATO bombing of the country. In fact, the airport had been idle, without any passenger traffic, up until just a few months ago.

This all changed last year, when Air Serbia launched several new routes from Serbia’s second largest airport Niš. Then, in December, Air Serbia also started flying out of Morava Airport. Serbia’s national airline Air Serbia was once limited to flights out of Belgrade, to promote its hub in Nikola Tesla Airport – that has obviously changed. In fact, the Serbian national airline was the sole applicant of a tender, which saw it receive €5.5 million to launch two new routes from Kraljevo.

One of the routes, to Vienna, was already launched. However, Air Serbia will now have to suspend it. The other route to Thessaloniki is due to be launched at the end of March, at the start of the summer schedule. It is now unclear whether those flights, between Morava and Thessaloniki, will ever take place.

Morava Airport Closes Hitting Air Serbia Services
Air Serbia serves Morava Airport in Kraljevo with its ATR42 aircraft. Photo: Dejan Milinkovic via Wikimedia

Why the closure?

The airport announced it is closing “until further notice” so that the spread of coronavirus in Serbia is curbed.

Technically, the Serbian government is closing its international borders – which includes the airport. This is being done to minimize the number of entry points into the country. But because Morava Airport does not have any domestic services, and likely never will, the whole airport is now closed until further notice.

The airport has also issued a statement that all passengers must now obtain further details from their airline, which is Air Serbia.

Presumably Air Serbia will be offering a free transfer onto its services to Vienna from its hub in Belgrade. This might even boost its own load factor on this route, in a time when airlines are facing an unprecedented crisis due to coronavirus.

Air Serbia Airbus A330 New York JFK
Air Serbia continues to fly to New York, but has significantly trimmed its European schedule. Photo: Getty Images

Air Serbia is trimming other routes too

Apart from this single route from Morava, Air Serbia is cancelling other routes too and decreasing frequencies on others.

In a move unrelated to coronavirus, Air Serbia is no longer flying to Lebanon and has pulled tickets off its route from Belgrade to Beirut until 13 June, when daily flights begin again.

Air Serbia has also drastically reduced its seat capacity to Italian airports, primarily from Belgrade to Rome. Flights from Niš to Bologna won’t resume until after Easter Sunday. Flights from Belgrade to Milan resume on Easter Sunday.

Do you think traffic will return to Morava Airport soon, if ever? Let us know what you think in the comments below.