Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (Serbian: Аеродром Београд - Никола Тесла, Aerodrom Beograd - Nikola Tesla) (IATA: BEG, ICAO: LYBE) is Serbia's busiest airport, also known as Surčin (Сурчин), after a nearby Belgrade suburb.

Named after Nikola Tesla, the airport is situated 12 km (7.5 mi) west, of central Belgrade, in the Municipality of Surčin, surrounded by Syrmia's fertile lowlands. Passengers on the right hand side of planes descending from the east have a view of downtown Belgrade, especially the districts of Čukarica and Novi Beograd. In the past, when weather conditions were poor, aircraft were diverted to Niš Constantine the Great International Airport, which is 230 km (143 mi) south.

However, since late 2005 a CAT IIIb runway system has been introduced and aircraft can land and depart in the heaviest of fog, which in past years led to the airport’s closure in late December and early January.

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is managed by the government-owned company Public enterpise “Aerodrom Nikola Tesla Beograd”. The company is a profitable public enterprise in Serbia with a recorded profit of 21.5 million Euros at the end of 2010.

National flag carrier Jat Airways uses Belgrade Nikola Tesla as their hub airport. It is also one of the hub airports for low cost airline Wizz Air. Aviogenex charter airline, VIP airlines Air Pink, Jat Airways AVIO taxi, Prince Aviation and Pelikan Airways also call the airport their home.

In recent years, the airport has transformed itself into a transit destination for the former Yugoslav region with regular transit passengers coming from Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

History


Belgrade's first international airport (also known as Dojno polje Airport) was opened on 25 March 1927 on the territory of today's Novi Beograd. From February 1928, aircraft owned by the first local airline Aeroput (today known as Jat Airways) started taking off from the new airport. The airport's landing strip consisted of four grass runways between 1,100 and 2,900 m (3,609 and 9,514 ft) long. The project for reinforced concrete hangar was made by Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković, known more for his theory of climate change. A modern terminal building was built in 1931, and in 1936 poor visibility conditions landing equipment was installed.

Besides Aeroput, Air France, Deutsche Luft Hansa, KLM, Imperial Airways and airlines from Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Poland also used the airport until the outbreak of the Second World War. Starting from April 1941 German occupation forces used the airport. During 1944 the Allies bombed it, and in October of same year the German army destroyed the remaining facilities while withdrawing from the country.

Belgrade Airport after World War II


The airport was rebuilt by October 1944 and until the end of the war was used by the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia as part of the Allied war effort.

Civil transport by Air Force cargo planes via this airport was renewed at the end of 1945. At the beginning of 1947 JAT Yugoslav Airlines and JUSTA took over domestic and international traffic, and from 1948 the first aircraft from West European airlines started to land in Belgrade.

Constant traffic increase and the appearance of passenger jet planes demanded a significant airport enlargement. In the meantime there was a plan to build a residential and business district called Novi Beograd, where the airport was located. Thus, it was decided that a new international airport should be constructed near the village of Surčin. The last flight to depart from the old airport was at the beginning of 1964.

Construction of new airport


During the first years of the development of postwar Belgrade, construction of the modern airport became a social and economic priority. Basic studies and engineering research started in 1947, and became part of the 1950 General City Plan. This document defined the future or air traffic and the role of Belgrade's Airport within the Yugoslav and international air network.

The new location for the airport was on the Surčin plateau 12 km (7 mi) from Belgrade's city centre. Thanks to the original planners' vision, two conditions for the airport's development were fulfilled: a location was chosen which met the navigational, meteorological, construction, technical, and traffic requirements; and the special needs for the airport's long-term development were established.

Experts from the Serbian City Planning Bureau, with the architect Nikola Dobrović at the helm, made the preliminary plans for the new airport. The development and realisation of the idea was taken over from 1953 onwards by the Civil Aviation Department (later Federal Department for Civil Aviation) whose experts, with engineer Miloš Lukić as team leader, finished the general airport plan for one runway, appropriate taxiways, and a terminal complex in 1957. Building of the new airport started in April 1958 and lasted until 28 April 1962, when it was officially opened by President Josip Broz Tito.

During that period a 3,000 m (9,843 ft) long runway was built with the parallel taxiway and concrete aprons for sixteen planes. The passenger terminal building occupied an area of 8,000 m² (2 acres). Cargo storage were also built, as well as a technical block with the air traffic control tower and other accompanying facilities. Modern navigational equipment was installed, earning the airport the highest international classification according to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

2000 - 2011


The airport stagnated during the 1990s after the outbreak of the Yugoslav civil wars and the United Nations sanctions imposed on the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The sanctions also included a ban on air travel. The airport had minimal passenger movement and many facilities were in need of attention.

With a change in government and international sentiment, normal air traffic resumed in 2001. A few years later the airport’s terminal 2 underwent a complete reconstruction.

The runway, which is now CAT IIIb, was upgraded in October 2005, as part of a large renovation project. CAT IIIb is the latest runway system giving aircraft the security of landing during fog and storms. A countrywide petition was signed to have the name of the airport changed to Belgrade Nikola Tesla International Airport. Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, generally considered one of the world's most important electrical engineers.

The proposal was accepted by Aerodrom Beograd a.d., the state-owned airport authority, and received approval by the Ministry of Capital Investment, and finally the Serbian Government on 2 February 2006. On 10 July 2006, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth scientist Nikola Tesla, a monument was erected near Terminal 1. The monument is 3.10 m (10 ft 2 in) high and weighs 1,000 kg (2,205 lb).

In 2006, the airport served a total of 2,222,455 passengers, which represented an increase of 9% over 2005 figures. After 17 years, the airport served its 2,500,000th passenger on 28 December. The official total number of passengers served for the full year of 2007 was 2,512,890.

In August 2007, the management of the airport announced that within the next 4 years Terminal 2 gates will be expanded as well as parking spaces for aircraft. Terminal 1 and 2 would be connected as well.

In 2008, the airport served a total of 2,650,048 passengers, which represented an increase of 5% over 2007 figures. The airport experienced its best month in May 2008 due to the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 being held in Belgrade. Those record figures were however outnumbered at the end of 2010 with 2,698,730 handled passengers.

The construction of the airport control center was completed in 2010 and the EU initiative to regionalize airport controls will begin implementation in 2012 at the earliest date.

In February 2011 Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport shares began trading on the Belgrade Stock Exchange.

Terminals


Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has two terminals, with a reconstructed Terminal 2 opened since 14 May 2006.

Terminal 1


Terminal 1 (T1) was the original and the only terminal when the airport was opened. The terminal handled domestic flights during the SFR Yugoslavia. Since the dissolution of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, the gates of the terminal have been used for international flights by both international and domestic carriers.

From January 1, 2010, Terminal 1 is fully operational and used mostly by low cost and charter airlines.

Terminals 1 and 2 are located next to each other and are connected through a hallway. Terminal 1 contains 8 gates, A1-A8. T1 has restaurants "Aviator" and "Boeing", the "Business Club Lounge" and shops.

The terminal went through a major renovation in the 1980s when air bridges were added to connect passengers to the aircraft. Minor renovations were done in 2002.

Terminal 2


Terminal 2 (T2) was constructed during the 1980s for the airport's growing passenger numbers. After 2 years of reconstruction, T2 reopened in May 2006 with 33 check in desks. The terminal has a capacity of 5 million passengers. The arrivals and departures areas of the terminal were completely reconstructed. The terminal has six gates, C1 to C6. The terminal contains airline offices, transfer desks and various retail shops.

In 2011, it was announced that the C platforms (T2 gates) will be expanded and this would be the highest priority investment for the airport. The expansion will cater for the growing number of passengers passing through the airport. The airport also announced to increase parking space for some gates in order to make room for larger long-haul planes, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380.

Airlines and destinations
Scheduled


The following scheduled passenger airlines use the airport:

Charter airlines
Cargo airlines


Cargo airlines serving the airport (as of January 2011):

Statistics


Source: Official website

Services
Security


In 2007 the airport followed the example of the EU and introduced security measures which limit the amount of liquids allowed to be carried onboard aircraft. In April 2007 the airport also introduced the latest technology for explosive and narcotic detection. These units are implemented at the airport itself, as well as at the customs and border checkpoints and other facilities and locations of security interest.

Each international passenger must pass security and passport control before entering the departure lounge. Passengers are again screened and carry on luggage is scanned at the gate, prior to entering the aircraft.

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has a Rescue and Fire Service, which in 2007 received internationally recognised certificates. All members of the fire service unit underwent training at the U.K. International Fire Training Center run by Serco. This has led to praise by the IATA and ICAO organisations.

Since 2003 airport security has been further increased. The airport relies on the Serbian Police and Serbian anti-terrorist squad for patrolling the airport and can call in the Serbian Army. In August 2007 the airport prohibited cars parking next to the airport terminal, instead they have to use the car park provided, as a result of the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack. All parked cars in restricted zones will be towed away and the owners will receive a fine. In late 2007 the airport received technology from Israel which provides the ability to monitor the 20 km radius around the airport.

Lounges


All passengers flying business class (except Lufthansa business class passengers) on a flight from Belgrade may use the airport lounge named “Business club” located in the transit area near gate A5. The capacity of the lounge is 45 people. Free drinks, food and appetizers are offered. The meals are prepared by the “Boeing” restaurant located next to the lounge. Passengers receive an invitation to the lounge at check in.

Nikola Tesla Airport also has a VIP lounge, with separate check-in and passport control facilities, which was built during the 2004-2006 terminal 2 reconstruction. The lounge consists of three parts - the first part for leisure, second for television crew and press conferences and a third part is a presidential suite. The lounge has a total surface area of 500 m². The lounge is also used as a press centre upon the arrival of VIPs.

Accessibility
By car


Belgrade Airport is connected to the Belgrade–Šid highway (E-70) via a nearby interchange. There are car rental agencies in the Arrivals Hall.

By bus
By taxi


Licensed taxis from the airport to the city are available.

Awards


Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport was awarded the "Euro Annie award for the airport that has attracted the most new airlines during the 12 month period analysed (August 2010 v August 2009)." by anna.aero. Despite losing Olympic’s service to Athens, the airport attracted 10 ‘new’ carriers, at least compared with the previous year, making a net gain of nine carriers. The interest in the Serbian market and its largest airport can be presumed to be linked to the fact that Serbian nationals no longer need visas to travel to the Schengen Area, which is formed of the majority of European states.

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