Serbia and Slovenia have become the strongest contributors to Emirates’ business in the former Yugoslavia, the airline’s Area Manager for Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina, Martin Gross, has said. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Mr Gross noted, “Emirates is currently represented in various countries of the former Yugoslavia by a General Sales Agent. We see a growing demand to a number of destinations we serve over our hub in Dubai and of course also to Dubai itself. The close distance to our own destinations Venice and Vienna make this area important to us and we also have a very good working interline relationship with Flydubai”.
Although Emirates does not serve any country in the former Yugoslavia directly, its close relationship with Flydubai gives it access to the hybrid airline’s flights to Belgrade, Skopje and Sarajevo. Flydubai plans to suspend operations to Zagreb this winter but is eying services to Podgorica next year. Asked whether Emirates plans to start its own flights to the region, Mr Gross said that the airline does not comment on speculation but added that, “Emirates is constantly evaluating possible new destinations all over the world”. Late last year, a high-ranking delegation from Emirates visited both Belgrade and Zagreb to study the potential of the two destinations.
The Slovenian government recently held talks with Emirates over potential services between Dubai and Ljubljana. The carrier said it was interested in serving the country indirectly through Flydubai. There are currently no flights between Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates, while there is strong competition from Gulf rivals Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways in Belgrade. Commenting on which markets are of most interest for passengers originating from the former Yugoslavia when flying with Emirates, Mr Gross said, “In addition to our home market Dubai, Australia and Indian Ocean destinations are on top of the list”. Emirates has a limited presence in Eastern Europe with Budapest, Vienna and Venice being the closest destinations to the former Yugoslavia currently served by the airline.