Soon in Sarajevo
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the CEO of the Emirates Group, has announced that Flydubai will launch services to Sarajevo. Flights to the Bosnian capital will be launched once in-depth analysis of the market is completed. Speaking to the media, Al Maktoum said that he hopes flights will be launched as soon as possible. The announcement came after a banking delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina met with the Sheikh in Dubai over the weekend to discuss closer economic cooperation betwen Bosnia and the emirate. Sarajevo currently has no scheduled flights to the Middle East. However, Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines operates regular charters from Beirut, catering mostly for Christian pilgrims visiting Medjugorje in Mostar.
Sarajevo will become Flydubai’s third destination within the former Yugoslavia after Belgrade and Skopje. The low cost airline currently operates four weekly flights to the Serbian capital and two weekly flights to Skopje. Over the busy holiday season, the airline will run up to eight additional flights to Belgrade. Flydubai considered launching services to Zagreb as well. However, the airline decided against the move out of operational purposes. While Flydabai’s Boeing 737-800s can make it to Zagreb, crew duty times would have been exceeded on the return leg. Thus, this would have required a mandatory rest period for the crew in Zagreb, which would have increased costs for the low cost airline.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was previously connected with an air link to Dubai, albeit for a very short period. Last year, Air Arabia launched seasonal flights to Tuzla. Originally, a total of 31 flights were planned for the summer season, however, due to extremely poor loads, they were cancelled less than a month after services were inaugurated. On average, the airline had less than five passengers booked on each flight, officials at Tuzla Airport said at the time of the cancellation.
Middle Eastern based airlines expanded their presence in the former Yugoslav region this year. Besides Flyduabi’s services to Belgrade and Skopje, Qatar Airways operates flights to Zagreb and Belgrade while Air Arabia recently launched services to Priština. At the recent World Route Development Forum in Abu Dhabi, Dubrovnik Airport held talks with Flydubai, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways regarding possible flights from the UAE and Qatar to the sea side city in the coming year.