MINISTER MIHAJLOVIC: NIS IS STRATEGICALLY IMPORTANT, AIRPORT CONSTANTINE THE GREAT NEEDS FASTER DEVELOPMENT AND MORE INVESTMENTS

April 3rd

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, prof. Dr. Zorana Mihajlovic said today in Nis that the transfer of the “Konstantin Veliki” Airport to the state ownership was a development decision and that it was motivated by the large investments needed by the Nis airport in a short period of time. “If we do not invest in Nis airport, the number of passengers will remain at the number of 350,000 people, and if we continue to invest, we will have 650,000 passengers by 2021 and 750,000 passengers in 2027. The reason why the government made the recommendation to the City of Nis is not to close the airport, but to enable faster development”, Deputy Prime Minister said in her address to journalists after the meeting on infrastructural projects with the City of Nis administration.

On this occasion she reminded that in the last two years she visited Nis seven times since the Government and the President of Serbia paid special attention to the development of Nis in all areas of infrastructure – energy and transport, in road, rail and air transport. “The Government of Serbia sees Nis as a transport hub, which is strategically important, and our goal is to develop Nis faster. The airport will remain in Nis, flights will continue, the employees will keep their jobs and their number will increase, and airlines will continue to have their contracts and prices stipulated by those agreements, “as Mihajlovic explained.

She said that all the analyses showed that Nis Airport needed faster investments in order to keep pace with other airports in the surrounding area. “Our estimates are that it is necessary to invest another 15 million euros to enable Constantine the Great Airport keep up with the surrounding airports. We do not have 10 years to wait for the City of Nis to invest 10 million euros, nor is it possible to secure the important investments due to security standards through donations. The Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government of Serbia invested EUR 3.6 million for the past three years and the City of Nis invested another two million euros through subsidies, and that those investments were the reasons why the number of passengers at Nis Airport reached 331 000.

“Let’s not forget that in 2011, 2012, 2013, the City of Nis paid to the companies € 3.6 million for empty seats so that the airlines would fly from Nis. A total of EUR 7.6 million was invested so that Nis Airport could have 1,335 passengers in 2013. The money of Nis citizens went to Montenegrin and Italian airline, “Mihajlovic said. Speaking about criticism expressed by the opposition politicians Mihajlovic said that Zoran Zivkovic, when he was the PM, even when he was Nis City Mayor, did not return the airport to the ownership of the city, but it was done in 2010. “I would like to remind you that a serious problem arose precisely in 2010, when the Government led by Mirko Cvetkovic transferred the airport from the state to city ownership but with huge incurred money obligation. It was that very act that caused the problems that the city was facing today because the City of Nis cannot pay off those obligations, which are higher than the city budget, today, “the vice-president stressed. She denied that there were any plans for the sale of Nis airport, nor that the decision to change owners was related to the concession contract for the Nikola Tesla Airport. “You will also be able to see for yourself when the handover is completed and when the contract is published,” she added.

Nis City Mayor Darko Bulatovic said that the equipment and the operating of the Constantine the Great Airport by all modern standards required financial resources that the city did not have and that the state must stand behind that project. “We got the assurances of the highest state leadership that the airport will keep with all signed contracts, with new investments and that it will be an alternative airport to Belgrade, and thus, must be operational 24 hours a day. He added that during the meeting all infrastructure projects financed by the state were discussed, among which the largest and most important was the reconstruction of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad railroad, with the construction of a roundabout around Nis.