|Qatar Airways to add third destination in the former Yugoslavia|
The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Qatar, Tarik Sadović, has announced that Qatar Airways will launch flights from Doha to Sarajevo this year, following talks with the carrier’s CEO Akbar Al Baker. Mr. Sadović says the new service is a result of continued efforts from both sides to improve economic ties between the two countries. The announcement comes only weeks after Flydubai launched services between its hub and Sarajevo, offering a scheduled nonstop air link between the Middle East and the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time. According to the Ambassador, Qatar Airways’ flights will cater for both the sizable Bosnian diaspora working across the Middle East, but also those living in far off countries such as Australia.
In May last year, a delegation of political and business leaders from Qatar, among which was Qatar Airways Chairman, his Excellency Ali Shareef Al Emadi, attended the Sarajevo Business Forum, raising speculation that the Gulf carrier was considering Sarajevo as its newest destination in the former Yugoslavia. While Qatar Airways is yet to officially confirm the service launch, the airline is likely to operate the flights via another point in the region, similar to its service to Belgrade, which runs via Ankara, with the stop to be moved to Sofia from March 1. On the other hand, the route to nearby Zagreb was operated via Budapest before it was recently converted into a nonstop flight.
The arrival of Qatar Airways to Sarajevo would be a major coup for the airport following Flydubai’s service launch. The Qatari carrier would not only become the first from the Middle East Big Three (which includes Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways) to operate flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina but also the only airline from the Onewrold alliance to fly to Sarajevo. Qatar would provide competition to its rival Flydubai on the route but also Turkish Airlines. Turkish relies on a significant number of transit passengers on its flights to and from Sarajevo, a portion of which could be taken over by Qatar Airways. Sarajevo Airport’s CEO, Ivica Veličan, recently said, “We are currently holding talks with a number of airlines which plan to connect Sarajevo with several attractive destinations. We have the necessary capacity and are open for cooperation, both with full fare and low cost airlines. The introduction of new routes depends on the airline’s assessment of the market and is purely a commercial decision”. On Wednesday, Qatar Airways confirmed Amsterdam as its first new destination in 2015.