Serbia Aims Big: Will Build 2 New International Airports

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Serbia today published plans to build two brand new airports, one of which will replace Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The new airport serving Belgrade will have three runways, and it will enable Air Serbia to embark on a significant expansion.

Air Serbia A330
One of the two new airports will replace Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, Air Serbia’s current base. Photo: Getty Images

Two new airports in Serbia

The Serbian Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure published its spatial plan for the 2021-2035 period. The plan reveals that the country will see the construction of two new airports, one of which will replace the existing airport that serves the capital, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

The construction of two brand new airports is major news for Serbia because there is only a handful of them in the country at present. One of the two new airports will be in northern Serbia, located just 15 kilometers away from Novi Sad and adjacent to the A1 highway. The Serbian government’s documentation indicates that the airport’s location in the proximity of an established rail route will serve as an excellent opportunity to make the new airport attractive for cargo traffic.

Meanwhile, the new airport in Belgrade that will replace the existing structure will be located just 10 kilometers away from Nikola Tesla Airport and 24 kilometers away from Belgrade. It too will be located by a highway, E70. It will be much larger than Nikola Tesla: the plan is for 1,100 hectares and three runways for take-offs and landings.

Air Serbia
Air Serbia will benefit from these infrastructural investments. Photo: Getty Images

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The existing airports will benefit too

As the construction of new airports will take time, Serbia has also outlined its plans for the existing airport infrastructure in the country. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is set to see a revamp of its existing structures and additions to the current transport infrastructure to help it cope with growing passenger numbers. There is a plan to link the airport with Belgrade by more public transport links. Furthermore, a cargo complex will be formed.

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Niš Constantine the Great Airport, out of which Air Serbia operates PSO routes, will see a revamp too.

Kraljevo’s Morava Airport, the construction of which was finalized recently, will also have its existing structure reconstructed. The plan is to allow that airport to link more easily with Serbia’s highway network. Morava currently has no scheduled services, but Air Serbia is being paid to fly from there to Vienna and Thessaloniki.

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Air Serbia A330
It is likely that Air Serbia will fly out of all of Serbia’s airports. Photo: Getty Images

Why a new airport for Belgrade?

Just three years ago, Serbia granted VINCI Airports a 25-year concession of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in a 500-million euro deal. VINCI plans for Belgrade to handle 15 million passengers annually by the time its concession expires in 2043. The plan is for the new Belgrade Airport to be ready before then, by 2036.

But, by that point, VINCI will already have upgraded Nikola Tesla, so Serbia’s capital will have two modern airports serving it, assuming the new airport is completed on schedule. It is unclear how traffic would be split between the two and what the spare capacity would be used for. Between 2036 and 2043, Belgrade will have the capacity to handle 40 million passengers.

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