|Flydubai to introduce fifth destination in EX-YU|
Flydubai plans to launch flights from its hub in the United Arab Emirates to Podgorica from July 1, according to the "Pobjeda" daily. The service will run twice per week. High-level talks between the airline's management, Podgorica Airport and the Montenegrin government took place in December last year, after which local hoteliers were informed of the new service. Last week, the Montenegrin Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism said it was finalising talks with the carrier. Flydubai's CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith, recently confirmed that the airline will expand its operations in Eastern Europe this year, adding, "We have a lot of opportunities in Europe. There is demand from Eastern Europe for holidays in Dubai". The service to Podgorica will become Flydubai's fifth destination in the former Yugoslavia following Belgrade, Skopje, Zagreb and Sarajevo.
The hybrid airline will add frequencies to the region this summer. It will operate daily flights to Sarajevo and will increase services to Belgrade to four per week. Furthermore, it will maintain three weekly flights to Zagreb and two weekly to Skopje. From May 2016, Flydubai will start taking deliveries of eleven Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which will be followed by the first five of its new 737 MAX 8 jets. Flydubai’s Senior Commercial Vice President, Jeyhun Efendi, previously told EX-YU Aviation News that 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. 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”.
Montenegro abolished visa requirements for United Arab Emirates nationals two years ago. 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 in November last year, 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. This summer, Turkish Airlines will operate double daily flights to the Montenegrin capital, up from ten weekly last year, while Air Serbia will run 21 weekly services to Podgorica and thirty weekly to Tivat.