Serbian state takes over running of Niš airport

Financial difficulties have forced Niš Council to transfer control of the city’s Constantine the Great Airport to the state. The news was confirmed by the city’s mayor Darko Bulatović following a meeting of the council as which 43 councillors voted in favour, with eight against and one abstention.

Since 2009 the city invested more than 800 million dinars (around 6.8 million euros) in the airport, in the form of subsidies.

The council’s decision has not been popular amongst the local populations. Several hundred citizens of the Ne damo niški aerodrom (We will not give you Niš Airport) initiative protested in front of Niš City Hall while the vote was taking place. Some protesters tried to enter the building, but security forces prevented them.

The initiative’s Miloš Boskovic told Radio Free Europe that “the organisation has made thousands of arguments against the surrender of the airport in the past months. The city government has not responded and has only fulfilled the order from Belgrade.”

Niš airport serves flights to 11 European destinations, with one national and two foreign airline operators. Passenger traffic has increased threefold in recent years and has become a viable alternative to country’s main airport: Nikola Tesla in Belgrade.