|Doha - Sarajevo service imminent, government says|
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Igor Crnadak, has said that flights between Doha and Sarajevo are likely to launch next year. The comments came after Mr Crnadak met with the Qatari Minister for Economy and Commerce, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, in Doha on Wednesday. The two agreed for a new route to be established as soon as possible and signed several trade agreements to encourage mutual investments. It follows on from earlier talks between the Bosnian Ambassador to Qatar, Tarik Sadović, and the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker. Mr Sadović said Qatar Airways will introduce services to the Bosnian capital in the near future, making it its third destinations in the former Yugoslavia following Zagreb and Belgrade.
In 2013, Bosnia and Qatar made amendments to the existing Air Services Agreement between the two countries, which regulates the rights of airlines of both contracting parties to establish direct flights to one another. The arrival of Qatar Airways in Sarajevo would be a major coup for the airport following Flydubai’s service launch last year. The Qatari carrier would not only become the first from the Middle East Big Three (which also includes Emirates 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.
The Bosnian Ambassador to Qatar says the flights would cater for both the sizable Bosnian diaspora working across the Middle East, but also those living in far off countries such as Australia. Furthermore, Bosnia has seen an influx of tourists from the Middle East in recent years. Qatar Airways itself has said it will reveal all of its new route launches for the coming year in due course. So far, the Qatari carrier has announced the introduction of services from Doha to Los Angeles, Ras Al Khaimah, Sydney, Boston and Atlanta in 2016, while planed nonstop flights Tbilisi have been put on hold and continue to operate via Baku. Sarajevo Airport’s Managing Director, 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”.