|Dubai - Podgorica flights expected to launch next summer|
Flydubai plans to launch flights from its hub in the United Arab Emirates to Podgorica next year. The Montenegrin capital will become the airline's fifth destination in the former Yugoslavia following Belgrade, Skopje, Zagreb and Sarajevo. High-level talks between the airline's management, Podgorica Airport and the Montenegrin government took place last week, with the service expected to be launched next summer. The head of one of Montenegro's largest hotels and a key player in the local tourism industry, Roko Palmić, confirmed the planned flights, saying, "Montenegro will become more accessible to tourists from Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf thanks to new flights which will be launched from Podgorica by Flydubai". Meanwhile, the "Aviatica" portal notes that services, which are to be inaugurated in June, will initially run twice per week.
Montenegro abolished visa requirements for UAE citizens last year. Following the opening of the Montenegrin embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2014, the government has focused on strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations, most notably in the transport and tourism sectors. During a visit to Dubai by a high-ranking Montenegrin delegation last month, emphasis was put on the introduction of nonstop flights between the two countries. Etihad Airways recently forged a commercial cooperation agreement with Montenegro Airlines, which could lead to a potential equity investment on behalf of the Emirati carrier or its affiliated partners.
There are currently no flights between Montenegro and the Middle East. The majority of passengers heading to the region are handled by Turkish Airlines and Air Serbia via their respective hubs. Four years after launching flights to the former Yugoslavia, Flydubai says it is satisfied with its performance on the market, noting it is holding up well against rivals such as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, which are also present in the region. Flydubai’s Senior Commercial Vice President, Jeyhun Efendi, says the former Yugoslav market forms an essential part of the airline’s strategy. “Even before the airline launched in 2009, we aimed to do things differently. Being based in Dubai set a benchmark as well as having the opportunity to benefit from the developments that have transformed the emirate into a global travel hub. As the only direct link to Dubai from destinations such as Zagreb and Sarajevo, we remain focused on our strategy of offering something different to our passengers and opening up previously underserved markets”, Mr Efendi said. According to its current schedule, the hybrid airline plans to operate daily flights to Sarajevo next summer season, as well as three weekly services to Belgrade and Zagreb and two weekly to Skopje.