|Air Arabia to launch Sharjah - Sarajevo flights|
Low cost airline Air Arabia plans to launch flights from its hub in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Sarajevo this year. It will mark the carrier's third attempt at entering the former Yugoslav market and its second in Bosnia and Herzegovina in just five years. According to the "Aviatica" portal, services to Sarajevo are expected to be inaugurated at the start of the 2016 summer season, in late March. The flights will operate three times per week. Sarajevo Airport's spokeswoman, Belma Čureković, told the portal, "Talks between Air Arabia and Sarajevo Airport have been finalised. We will have exact details after an agreement is signed". Air Arabia will become the second airline from the United Arab Emirates to run flights to Sarajevo, with Flydubai to maintain daily services to the Bosnian capital next summer season.
Air Arabia has operated flights to the former Yugoslavia on two previous occasions. Both attempts had little to no success. In 2011, the budget airline introduced two weekly services from Dubai to Tuzla, which were cancelled a month later due to extremely poor loads. At the time, the airport's management noted that one flight operated with a single passenger on board. A year later, the airline introduced two weekly flights between Sharjah and Pristina. The service was also cancelled within a month. However, Flydubai's success in Sarajevo could indicate better fortunes for Air Arabia. Whether there will be enough room for two players on the market remains to be seen. Sharjah is just 38 kilometres from downtown Dubai. Air Arabia carried 6.8 million passengers in 2014 and maintains services to 115 destinations, with offshoots in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Nepal. It operates a fleet 44 Airbus A320 aircraft, which have the capacity to seat 168 passengers.
Carriers from the Gulf region will ramp up their operations to the former Yugoslavia this year. Besides Flydubai's planned daily service to Sarajevo this summer, the Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has announced that Qatar Airways intends on launching services from Doha this year. Elsewhere, the Qatari carrier will operate ten weekly flights to Zagreb this summer and will run nonstop services to Belgrade, ending its Sofia stopover. Furthermore, Flydubai plans to launch two weekly flights to Podgorica this year, while Emirates has held talks with both Belgrade and Zagreb airports over potential services from Dubai. With exception to Ljubljana and Pristina, all other capital cities in the former Yugoslavia are expected to have direct air links to the Gulf region by the end of the year.