Belgrade Airport Expects Post-Sanction Record in Passenger Count

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Aerodrom Nikola Tesla AD (AERO), Serbia’s main airport, will serve 3.5 million passengers this year, the most since the 1990s, when Yugoslavia’s bloody breakup and sanctions closed it to international traffic.

The expected 12 percent increase in passenger numbers and a 2.4 increase in flights to 46,000, will make the state-owned airport “by far the fastest-growing” in the Balkans, even as it struggles to get paid by its biggest customer, JAT Airways, Chief Executive Officer Velimir Radosavljevic said at a presentation in Belgrade today. JAT’s bills overdue more than 60 days led to a 521.6 million-dinar ($5.9 million) writedown in the airport’s first-half results.

“It’s up to the government to resolve that” as it also controls the carrier, Radosavljevic said. A “transfer of property” from the airline to the airport is among options to settle the debt, he said without elaborating.

If it collects what JAT owes, the Nikola Tesla airport may have the best year in more than a decade, as its first-half pretax profit was 1.2 billion dinars without the writedown, 27 percent more than a year ago, he said. The number of passengers in the first eight months rose 7.5 percent to 2.3 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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