|Emirates rules out flights to the former Yugoslavia|
Emirates, one the world’s largest international carriers, has said it currently has no plans to fly to countries of the former Yugoslavia. Speaking to the “Austrian Aviation” portal, Martin Gross, Emirates’ Area Manager for Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia, says the region has been well connected by Flydubai, which currently maintains services from its hub to Belgrade, Skopje, Zagreb and Sarajevo. “In these markets, we cooperate closely with Flydubai, which has expanded rapidly in the region”, Mr Gross says. The Area Manager adds that while all cities could be potentially served by the Middle East’s largest airline, “there are currently no concrete plans to fly to these cities”.
Flydubai commenced operations to the former Yugoslavia in November 2011 when it inaugurated services to Belgrade. This was followed up by the launch of its Skopje route in November 2012. Last December, the airline commenced services to Zagreb and Sarajevo. Flydubai will add additional flights from its hub to Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo this coming winter season. From October 25, the hybrid airline will operate an additional weekly service from Dubai to the Serbian and Croatian capital cities for a total of four weekly flights. In addition, it will run an additional weekly service to Sarajevo, compared to last winter season, for a total of three weekly flights. On the other hand, it will maintain two weekly services to Skopje during the winter.
Flydubai was founded by the government of Dubai but is not an Emirates subsidiary, although the two cooperate closely. The airline has proven popular in the region, notably during the summer months and the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The airline captures a significant number of diaspora passengers from Australia and New Zealand heading to the former Yugoslavia, who are able to purchase a single Emirates ticket from their home cities and transit to their final destination via Dubai. However, Flydubai has also faced increased competition in the region with Qatar Airways operating flights to both Zagreb and Belgrade and Etihad and Air Serbia also offering services to Abu Dhabi. In response, the airline has introduced a business class section on all of its flights to the former Yugoslavia, as well as range of other promotions on the market.