The countries of the former Yugoslavia offer among the fewest connections to passengers travelling by air, both direct and indirect, compared to their European counterparts, according to Airport Council International’s (ACI) latest connectivity report for 2016. Data shows Bosnia and Herzegovina has the poorest airport connectivity on the continent, while Montenegro overtook Slovenia when compared to last year. Kosovo was included in the study for the first time.

Connectivity is the metric by which airports live – the more connected an airport is to the wider world, the more attractive it becomes to its users and the greater the value it provides to the community and local, regional or national economy it serves. The 2016 report looks at Europe’s total airport connectivity (direct and indirect), onward connectivity from Europe and hub connectivity. In essence, the report defines the connectivity of an airport as the weighted number of weekly flights available from that airport to non-stop destinations and to one-stop destinations involving flights of the same airline or of two airlines in an alliance or codeshare.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is ranked last among 45 countries in terms of connectivity. According to the study, the country has both the lowest direct and hub connectivity but is ahead of Macedonia and Slovakia in terms of indirect connectivity. It was followed by Kosovo, which was included in the study for the first time. Macedonia comes 41st, improving on last year by one position.

European rank (out of 45)Country
European rank (out of 45)Country
45Bosnia and Herzegovina

Although the country has seen significant passenger growth over the past decade, as well as strong government support for air travel, the dominance of low cost carriers has impacted its report figures. Montenegro improved from 40th position last year to 37th in 2016, overtaking Slovenia in the process. Serbia ranked second in the former Yugoslavia on the connectivity scale with Croatia following on top with several active international airports. Germany has the highest level of airport connectivity in Europe, followed by the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Turkey.

On the other hand, individual capital city airports from across the region have seen robust connectivity growth over the past decade. Between 2006 and 2016, Podgorica was the fastest-growing capital city airport within the former Yugoslavia in terms of connectivity, averaging growth of 78%. It is followed by Belgrade at 67%, Skopje at 53%, Zagreb at 22%, Sarajevo at 6% and Ljubljana at 1%. Pristina was not included in the comparison.

AirportChange (%)
AirportChange (%)
Zadar▲ 333.6
Pula▲ 205.7
Tivat▲ 141.5
Split▲ 137.1
Dubrovnik▲ 110.6
Podgorica▲ 78.2
Belgrade▲ 67.5
Skopje▲ 53.1
Rijeka▲ 35.1
Zagreb▲ 22.6
Sarajevo▲ 6.1
Ljubljana▲ 1.1
Ohrid▼ 32.5

When all airports in the region are taken into account, ACI reports that Ohrid’s overall connectivity was the only one to decline. ACI uses the report as an opportunity to stress the importance of public policy and regulation in facilitating and enhancing connectivity, which is closely linked to the economic wealth of countries. ACI has called for progress on issues such as airport capacity, the liberalisation of market access, the lowering of navigation charges and aviation taxes and lighter economic regulation for airports.

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