Sasa Vlaisavljevic, Acting General Director of Nikola Tesla Airport – We are ready for new intercontinental flights from Belgrade
The year behind us is one of the most successful years in the history of the Belgrade Airport. With over 5.34 million passengers in 2017, it is the only airport in the region to place on the list of the 100 busiest airports in Europe, the Acting General Director of the Nikola Tesla Airport, Sasa Vlaisavljevic, says in his interview with eKapija.
– The airport has been recording monthly highs in the number of passengers served for two years in a row. This year, we expect the most successful season in our history, which is supported by the results in the first five months, during which more than 1.9 million passengers were served, 7% more than in the same period last year, whereas the total goods and mail traffic increased by 33% – Vlaisavljevic explains.
The airport welcomed its two-millionth passenger in the first week of June, 8 days earlier than in 2017.
eKapija: Compared to four years ago, where is the airport today?
– In the first five months of the current year, the total and the operating incomes are higher by 8% each, whereas the net profit is around RSD 1.1 billion and is higher by 1% than the net profit realized in the same period last year. Taking into account the entirety of 2017, we managed to do what no one has in the past 55 years. We broke all records, both in the number of passengers and in our operating revenues.
The year 2017 was a year of excellent business results for the Nikola Tesla Airport, and the past four years have been the most successful business years since the company’s founding.
The airport’s value has increased by several hundred million euros in the past four years. The total revenues have increased by 42%, the number of passengers by 66%, the number of air operations by 38%, the cargo and mail traffic is 2.2 times larger, the net profit is 240 larger and the share value has increased four times.
eKapija: The airport has been investing a lot recently in enhancing its offer and increasing its capacities. What has been done in the past months?
–The strategic orientation of the management of the Nikola Tesla Airport is towards increasing the airport’s attractiveness to airlines and passengers. This means that all our clients must be provided with top quality service in an optimal amount of time and with as little money invested as possible.
Thanks to our excellent business results, over EUR 51 million has been put into investments and development in the past four years from our own funds, of which 21.8 million in 2017 alone, thanks to which the Belgrade Airport has gone through structural changes aiming for a better and more functional usage of capacities.
The airport’s capacity has increased to around 7.5 million passengers a year, and all the upgrades were carried out without impacting the regular air traffic.
To the end of enhancing the level of security in air transport, we have also carried out a series of investments in safety, security, reliability and efficiency of airport processes. Modern air security equipment has been procured, which, in addition to the existing safety equipment, will put the Belgrade Airport among the top airports in the world.
eKapija: How many companies do carry out air services from Belgrade and to how many destinations? Can we expect any news in that area?
– In 2018, 36 airlines will be carrying out regular and charter flights to 67 destinations when it comes to regular flights and 28 when it comes to charter flights in 37 countries in Europe, the United States of America, the Middle and the Far East and northern Africa.
The Nikola Tesla Airport is ready for the summer months, the busiest period in the year, the period when air transport is at its peak, with the largest number of regular and charter flights and the widest offer of the most attractive destinations.
This year’s summer season has been enhanced from the start with the relaunch of Air Serbia’s services, as well as Vueling’s and Croatia Airlines’ flights to Split. On July 31, easyJet will start flying to Basel and then also to Berlin on August 10, whereas Eurowings will launch its seasonal air service to Stuttgart on July 26.
We also expect the most successful charter season, with an estimate of the growth of the number of passengers on charter flights of around 20% by the end of the summer season, compared to the previous season. Summer resorts in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy and Spain traditionally make up the richest tourist offer, whereas charter flights will be carried out to a total of 29 destinations.
eKapija: Potential new intercontinental flights to Chicago, Toronto, Beijing and other destinations have also been mentioned. Does the airport have the resources for handling larger aircraft on those lines, as well as additional passengers?
– The Nikola Tesla Airport is always looking into new options and is in contact will all interested parties to the end of launching new air services. We hope to soon realize the announcements of launching direct air services to destinations in Europe, currently not operated, as well as to destinations in Morocco, India, Canada and new destinations in China. The capacity of 7.5 million passengers a year is sufficient for a stable and progressive growth of the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in the next few years.
eKapija: How many employees are there at the airport? Are new employments being planned?
– There are currently around 1,700 employees at the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. Two years ago, the labor-legal status of 600 permanent employees was finally resolved.
Last year, our team was also joined by 340 colleagues from Air Serbia Ground Services, allowing us to handle the increasing amount of air traffic and widen our range of ground handling services for Air Serbia.
eKapija: The question of airports in other cities is also a popular topic. What is your opinion on the Nis Airport, but also on airports such as Ponikve and Ladjevci?
– Regional cooperation and the development of airports in the region are in mutual interest, as it is only through regional connections that we will be able to address all the potential challenges. This is why the airport is taking active part in regional events, where we promote cooperation and the sharing of knowledge in the field of air services, but also in the field of consulting services.
Our cooperation with partner airports is growing more intensive, and most has been achieved through the establishment of partner relations with the airports in Nis, Uzice, Kraljevo, Krusevac and Banjaluka. We are also in contact with our colleagues in Batajnica, Sarajevo, Zadar and Montenegro.
eKapija: How important is social responsibility in the company’s operations? Which projects and activities does your company support?
– The company keeps upgrading its offer and value system constantly, affirming the principle of sustainable development, applying the highest ethical standards, improving the professional education and the life of its employees, increasing its value and enhancing the total living conditions in its surroundings. The Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has been occasionally organizing programs of distributing computers for several years now, focusing on healthcare and educational institutions, whose operations are of vital importance for the wellbeing of the social community, as well as on institutions and sports associations and clubs from underdeveloped part of the country.
As a socially responsible company, the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport joins humanitarian programs, and the support program for our friends at the shelters for children in New Belgrade and Zvezdara and the project of Adria Media Group, supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, in National Geographic and Popular Science, are just some of them.
Among the most important projects realized by the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in 2016 was the construction of the aircraft deicing and frost prevention platform. In addition to the operating and organizational advantages of this project, its ecological efficiency is also very important, as it directly influences the reduction of the emission of harmful gases and the consumption of fuel, and it also solves the problem of the collection and disposal of waste waters form the deicing and frost prevention liquid.
These are just some of the projects, which also include projects in the fields of healthcare, sports and culture, for which the Belgrade Airport has invested around RSD 165 million in 2017 and 2018 so far for donations and sponsorships.
eKapija: How important is the Superbrands award to you?
– As one of the most successful companies, the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has won the prestigious Supebrands award, a symbol of success, security and reliability in the business world, for the third year in a row.
This important award is the best indicator of our continuous successful and stable business results and a motive for us to keep going and be even better and more successful, to enhance our services and push boundaries each year.