Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport has held talks with representatives from Emirates, Etihad Airways, Flydubai and Air Arabia concerning the introduction of flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after aviation regulators from the two countries signed an agreement of understanding in a bid to expand cooperation in the sector. The talks were also attended by the Slovenian Tourist Board, as well as local tour operators. In a statement, the Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure said, "It is now up to the airlines, airports and tour operators to draw up specific plans". Last November, Slovenia and the UAE signed a Civil Aviation Agreement, which enables flexibility on routes, capacity, number of frequencies and types of aircraft between the two countries, for both passenger and cargo flights. The agreement also foresees the implementation of fifth freedom traffic rights, permitting carriers from the UAE to operate services to any airport in Slovenia and then onwards to a third country.
Gulf carriers have little presence in Slovenia. Flydubai, which operates services to Zagreb, offers its passengers bus transfers from Ljubljana to the Croatian capital. On the other hand, Etihad Airways codeshares on Air Serbia's double daily flights between Belgrade and Ljubljana. Currently, Flydubai operates services to Belgrade, Sarajevo, Skopje and Zagreb, with Etihad maintaining operations to Belgrade and Air Arabia to Sarajevo, although it has flown to both Tuzla and Pristina in the past. According to the "Sierra5" portal, Flydubai has shown the greatest interest in introducing services to the Slovenian capital according to "unofficial but reliable" sources, although neither frequencies nor possible launch dates have been discussed.
The Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure noted, "Passengers travelling from Ljubljana Airport should benefit from better connections to the UAE, which will play a significant role in promoting cooperation, especially in the tourism sector, which is of great importance to Slovenia". Last year, Slovenia and the UAE signed an economic cooperation agreement which the two countries see as an opportunity to boost ties in various fields, particularly in tourism. Earlier this year, the two established a joint committee on economic and commercial cooperation.