|Middle Eastern carriers to put greater focus on the former Yugoslav market|
Carriers from the Middle East will launch new destinations and increase frequencies and capacity on existing routes to the former Yugoslavia this year. Competition among Gulf airlines will heat up in the region this summer as four Middle East-based airlines plan to maintain scheduled flights, with Air Arabia becoming the latest to enter the market. Qatar Airways will operate double daily flights from Doha to Zagreb on select days from April 3 for a total of ten weekly services. The Qatari carrier will introduce a second daily flight on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. All services will operate with an Airbus A320 aircraft. Furthermore, it will also launch new four weekly direct flights to Belgrade from March 16, currently served by the airline via Sofia. Meanwhile, Etihad Airways is expected to boost capacity to the Serbian capital as it plans to phase out its Airbus A319 aircraft during the fourth quarter of this year. It currently utilises the aircraft type on services to Belgrade.
Flydubai plans to launch flights from its hub in the United Arab Emirates to Podgorica this summer. 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 late last year, with the service expected to be launched this June twice per week. Flydubai will also boost operations to Sarajevo, with daily flights to be maintained during the peak summer months. Meanwhile, one of the world's largest carriers, Emirates, held talks with both Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport and Zagreb Airport late last year to explore opportunities concerning the possible introduction of flights to the two cities in the coming years. Emirates has 255 aircraft on order and is looking at expanding into new markets in Europe.
Low cost airline Air Arabia made an official announcement yesterday regarding its latest attempt to enter the former Yugoslav market. It will launch flights from its hub in Sharjah to Sarajevo, where it will compete against Flydubai. “Following twelve months of significant expansion, Air Arabia is delighted to begin 2016 with the launch of a new European service. Sarajevo is a great all-year-round destination and we anticipate very healthy demand for the service when it launches in March”, Air Arabia CEO, Adel Al Ali, said yesterday. The airline will initially operate three weekly flights, increasing to daily during the peak summer months. However, the budget carrier has already scheduled additional services on the route throughout March and April. Meanwhile, the Kuwait-based Gryphon Airlines plans to operate flights from the Gulf state to Sarajevo on a seasonal summer basis. It previously ran flights with a Boeing 767 during the summer. The airline has said it is considering extending the service to Banja Luka as well. In 2012, Kuwait Airways operated two weekly flights to the Bosnian capital for a short one-month period with its 232 seat Airbus A300-600 aircraft.