Sarajevo International Airport (IATA: SJJ, ICAO: LQSA), also known as Butmir Airport, is the main international airport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, serving Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located 3.3 NM (6.1 km; 3.8 mi) southwest of the Sarajevo railway station in the Ilidža municipality, suburb of Butmir. In 2014, 709,901 passengers traveled through the airport, compared to 25,000 in 1996.
First regular flights to Sarajevo using an airfield in the suburb of Butmir begin in 1930 when the domestic airliner Aeroput opened a regular route linking Belgrade to Podgorica through Sarajevo. A year later Aeroput opened a new route which linked Belgrade and Zagreb going through Sarajevo, Split and Rijeka. In 1935 Aeroput operated three times weekly the non-stop route Belgrade – Sarajevo, which was extended to Dubrovnik a year later. In 1937 Aeroput included regular flghts linking Sarajevo to Zagreb, and 1938 was the year when first international flights were introduced when Aeroput extended the route Dubrovnik – Sarajevo – Zagreb to Vienna, Brno and Prague.
The airfield in Butmir remained in use all the way until 1969. The need for a new airport in Sarajevo, with an asphalt-concrete runway, was acknowledged in the mid-1960s when JAT, Yugoslav national carrier at that time, began acquiring jet planes. The construction of the airport began in 1966 at its present location, not far from the old one.
Sarajevo Airport opened on 2 June 1969 for domestic traffic. In 1970 Frankfurt became the first international destination served. Most of the time the airport was a 'feeder' airport where passengers embarked for flights to Zagreb and Belgrade on their way to international destinations. Over time the traffic volume steadily grew from 70,000 to 600,000 passengers a year. The first renovation came for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games, when the runway was extended by 200 meters, the navigation system was improved, and a new terminal building was built, designed for 1 million passengers a year.
At the beginning of the Bosnian War the airport was put under control of Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). When the regular flights were stopped the JNA evacuated some 30,000 people, mostly women and children, who were fleeing clashes in Sarajevo; the first humanitarian aid from the US and France arrived in this period too. After JNA left, the airport was for a while under control of Bosnian Serb forces and in June 1992 they handed over the airport to the UN to use it for humanitarian purposes (UN Security Council Resolution 757). In the biggest humanitarian operation in history of the UN that followed, during the Bosnian war, some 13,000 flights were carried out and over 160,000 tons of international humanitarian aid was delivered to the besieged city of Sarajevo.
On 18 October 2005, Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, suspended a decision by Bosnian authorities to name the airport after Alija Izetbegović, the first President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative stated that such a renaming might undermine the reconciliation process by alienating non-Bosniak citizens.
In 2013, Sarajevo International Airport had 665,638 passengers which is more than all of the other airports in Bosnia-Herzegovina had together and a 14.7% increase from 2012, this is the highest number of passengers per year since the reopening of the airport. On 26 December 2014, The airport welcomed its 700,000th passenger on Austrian Airlines flight OS758 to Vienna.
In May 2015 work has started on expansion of Sarajevo International Airport. Current work is undergoing on expansion of arrival area, adding more passport control check stands and rearranging whole arrival area to make it more passenger friendly. Next to follow is expansion of check in area which will include three more check in counters making it total of 15 check in counters. By the end of the year the airport will begin with platform expansion and the construction of rapid exit taxiway with scheduled completion by mid of the next year. 2017 should be the year in which airport will enter into the reconstruction of the runway and the maneuvering areas. Expansion of the airport at the current level is financed by Sarajevo Airport own funds.
First scheduled wide body aircraft with cargo flights to Sarajevo. May 22. 2015. Turkish Airlines started scheduled cargo flights from Sarajevo International Airport to Istanbul Ataturk Airport with an Airbus A330 freighter.
18 January 1977: Džemal Bijedić, then prime minister of Yugoslavia, and his wife were among the eight people killed when their Learjet 25 crashed on the Inač mountain near Kreševo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The plane took off from Batajnica Air Base in Belgrade and was en route to Sarajevo when it crashed, ostensibly due to poor weather conditions. Conspiracy theorists have suggested that the crash was not an accident but rather the result of foul play at the hands of his Serbian rivals.
31 December 1994: Belair cargo plane Ilyushin 76TD, registration EW-76836 was operating flight from Luxembourg to Sarajevo on behalf of the United Nations. At the time of landing Sarajevo airport runway was flooded and the aircraft overran runway and struck a ditch with the nose gear. There were no fatalities in crash-landing but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
23 December 2001: A CrossairAvro RJ, registration HB-IXH, skidded 100 meters off the runway when it tried to land at Sarajevo airport under snowy conditions. Nobody was injured in the accident, nor was there any damage. By next Monday afternoon, the aircraft had been recovered and was parked on the apron. The French Air Detachment (DETAIR) and local aeronautical authorities have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. It was snowing on the afternoon of 23 Dec.. The airport snow plough had just cleared the runway, a 20-minute job, when an HB-IXH from Zürich requested authorization to land." In those circumstances, the air traffic controller cannot give authorization. He only informs the pilot and the pilot is the one who has the responsibility to take the decision to land," said Maj. Olivier Mrowiki, air deputy commander. "The pilot (captain) decided to land and began the IFR approach procedure. The maneuver was correct and the touch down (landing) was perfect. The problem arose when the aircraft did not stop on the runway and went beyond it and stopped just in front of the ILS (instrumental landing system) antennas more than 100 meters beyond the end of the runway,"
3 June 2015: A Turkish Airlines737-800 registration TC-JFH, bursted two rear tires as it was landing at Sarajevo Airport on the flight from Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The incident happened at 19:10 as flight was scheduled to land. Luckily no passengers reported any injuries, nor the damage to the plane. The departure scheduled for 20:35 was delayed due to tires replacement, the flight departed next day.
Panoramic view of Sarajevo International Airport apron.