Banja Luka, Tuzla Have Flights, So Why No Flights to Osijek?

By 3 December 2021
Tvrdja, Osijek's historic old town on December 2, 2021, the Day of the City
Tvrdja, Osijek's historic old town on December 2, 2021, the Day of the City Osijek Tourist Board

December 3, 2021 - The TCN inbox is currently as interesting as it has ever been. As we start to focus a little more on Slavonia, one obvious question is why there are almost no flights to Osijek, when nearby airports such as Tuzla and Banja Luka offer routes to several countries?

As I get older, I get a little smarter, and life gets just a little easier. 

We are working on a few initiatives at the moment - the TCN Split Winter Tourism Round Table on December 13, the new Vukovar Card concept, and a general mission to tell the world how amazing and full of life Slavonia and the rest of eastern Croatia is. Because it really is. Time to Tell the Truth about Slavonia Full of Life.

All three initiatives have generated traffic in the TCN inbox, and the bit where I am now smarter is that I am inviting people with contributions to make on Split winter tourism, developing tourism in Slavonia, and promoting the Vukovar Card concept to contact me and explain how they can help. 

The contributions have been beyond magnificent.

One such contribution came recently in the form of a Croatian aviation expert who wishes to be anonymous at this point. He has given me some really useful information on the Splilt winter flights scene and possibilities. He has also been very generous with his time, so I decided to extend my line of questioning to talk about Slavonia. 

For all the talk of investing and rebuilding eastern Croatia after the war, the results have been lamentable, and it is clear that funds have been prioritised elswhere in Croatia,  where lobbies and private interests are stronger. It is a subject I plan to explore in some detail in 2022, but for now, I focused on something I was keen to understand - the questions and answers are below in full. 

Osijek. Why do budget airlines there fail when Tuzla and Banja Luka succeed?

Firstly, what, and how are you defining success? Tuzla and Banja Luka are two different animals.

Tuzla paid vast sums to Wizzair to establish a base there and over time has developed the airport through its low fares, mostly taking passengers away from Sarajevo. Banja Luka is a dog, with the government there paying all of the costs for airlines to fly there so it can’t be considered as a success in any light. Its very similar to what the Serbia government does with Niš airport and more recently this new ex air force base airport in Serbia, I’ve forgotten the name of it.

Osijek has not seen any major investment since the airport opened after the war. I’ve seen countless management team efforts eager to attract flights to Osijek and they have always been open to any suggestions for assistance. The main problem is they lack any financial power to provide subsidies and the local government doesn’t have the purse strings to help either. The national government and Croatian National Tourist Board focus are Zagreb and the coast as it’s always been. On top of that, they need to learn how to make business cases for airlines to launch potential routes and have an in-depth knowledge of its economy in Slavonia. They don’t have any of this and thus no idea of what their potential business and leisure markets could be. I understand there is a diaspora link with Mostar, Dalmatia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Ireland. The Hungarian government launched a PSO program that Wizzair won to operate flights between Osijek and Budapest in the past. I’m not sure if it still operates as it was of limited nature.

As we know, Ryanair only sticks around as long as its payments are coming in, once they stop then the airline goes elsewhere. Yes Eurowings is another airline that attempted to make Osijek work but failed. The biggest problem I see is that Osijek somehow manages to raise money for subsidies but not to continue marketing the route at the destination. Too seldom airports and the Croatian National Tourist Board in Croatia assume the airline will carry on with marketing the route when services are launched, but in reality the airlines have limited resources to market a route as the Croatian National Tourist Board should be doing.

I think Osijek has a huge potential as a cheap and undiscovered city break gem, with the additional traffic from the diaspora.


A few years back I visited Osijek for a weekend city break, and I was surprised when I went for breakfast and found the restaurant full of elderly tourists from the UK. At the time I knew there were no direct flights operating from Osijek and the UK which means they travelled via Zagreb. Slavonia has trouble marketing itself and the Croatian National Tourist Board does little to assist, so they are left to fend for themselves.

Considering the number of wineries in the area, it’s amazing that this is not marketed to potential tourists. But then none of the wineries in Croatia are adequately marketed to tourists in the first place. I’m originally from Australia and in Australia and internationally our wineries and winery trails are known throughout Australia and internationally. OK, Australia has a large export market for its wines, but you have the wine industry working together with Tourism Australia to promote their products in those markets, thus attracting tourists to the wine regions.

The Croatian National Tourist Board should be winding down their subsidies towards the cruise industry, and package holiday organisers aimed at the coast during the summer period. Millions of euros are spent on this annually and should be focused more on other regions of Croatia like Slavonia, or even mandate that any subsidies on the coast should also include operations in Slavonia. It’s been a while since I was last in Osijek so I’m not up to date on how much the infrastructure for tourism has progressed there. This could be a limiting factor along with the limited amount of corporate travel. 

If you are interested in working with TCN and have some knowledge or expertise to contribute to the Split winter tourism, Vukovar Card, or Make Osijek Great Again (MOGA) initiatives, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject (choose one) Split Winter Tourism/Vukovar Card/MOGA I am particularly keen to talk to someone who has good information and the financials on annual subsidies to airlines and other forms of transport.