Belgrade and Skopje eye new Mideast routes


Belgrade and Skopje airports are taking part at the inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa route development forum taking place in Dubai today, with the main purpose being to improve their connectivity with the Gulf region. VINCI Airports Serbia and TAV Macedonia are the only two airport groups from the former Yugoslavia participating in the event, joining a further sixty airports and forty airlines. Among carriers from the GCC area, both airports are served by Flydubai and Qatar Airways, with Etihad Airways also operating to Belgrade. Air Arabia's planned flights from Sharjah to the Serbian capital, which were to commence in June, have been cancelled.

The head of TAV Macedonia, Alper Ersoy, recently said, "We are constantly monitoring passengers’ demand regarding new destinations, communicating with airlines which are considering Macedonia’s airports as new destinations, and studying passenger flow to and from Skopje and Ohrid airports. Based on these tools, we determine our market each year. However, generally speaking, our main targets are European destinations, as well as the Middle East, due to its proximity to the Balkans and the interest in Middle Eastern countries for travel to the Balkans". The President of operator VINCI Airports, Nicolas Notebaert, noted, "We are working on bringing new airlines to Belgrade. We need some more time to work on flights lasting for over seven hours, however, we are working on all fronts, on both short and long hauls. We must now open new routes so we can secure sustainable growth in the coming years".

Karin Butot, the CEO of the route development event said, "Looking at the United Arab Emirates alone, almost 50% of new routes introduced in 2018 were to destinations across Europe - with the second largest share of new flights connecting the UAE with Russia". She added, "With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC, it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world. And, GCC, as well as various Middle Eastern airlines, are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes".

Emirates, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Jazeera Airways and Flynas are some of the carriers attending this year's CONNECT summit that are taking a greater interest in south-eastern Europe. Emirates' CEO, Tim Clark, said yesterday the airline would become “far more integrated” with Flydubai, though there are no plans to merge the pair. Mr Clark further noted that a review of all routes has been underway for the past nine months with the carrier close to finalising the process. “We haven’t been growing at the pace we used to because of geopolitical issues in the region and elsewhere. But that’s given us time to take stock of what the network is going to look like in five to ten years, and what the fleet fit in that network and the type of aircraft is going to be”, Mr Clark said. Meanwhile, Bahrain’s flag carrier Gulf Air, headed by Croatia Airlines' former CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said it may seek a joint venture with Etihad Airways following a codeshare agreement last month but would stop short of a merger. Etihad itself noted it plans to continue adding Boeing 787 Dreamliners onto its European routes as it takes delivery of new aircraft and phases out smaller jets.




Comments

  1. To be quite honest I think both airports are well connected to the Middle East for their respective markets.

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    1. This is mostly but not only for ME connections

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  2. Perhaps Ljubljana Airport should have taken part in this. Aren't they the ones that are most desperate to get flights t the Gulf?

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    1. Don't think there is demand from/to Gulf-LJU. We say yesterday that there was a huge need for more flights to France for instance. LJU needs more European connections to more UK and ES airports.

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    2. I don't understand that no one is interested in Ljubljana. Surely if Fly Dubai believes it can fill a B737-800 to Tivat it could do the same with Ljubljana. What's the catch?

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    3. Maybe they feel their loads in ZAG would be affected? Why do it when that route isn't performing well already? I think QR has more chances since they are booming in ZAG.

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    4. Actually DXB-ZAG is performing very bad takkng in connsideration it was downgraded to only 4 pw during the winter 2019/2020 with B738.

      Lets not forget that it started with B777 daily

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    5. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the owner of Porto Montenegro in TIV, as well as Emirates/FlyDubai. So, TIV is "home" for FZ. Thats the catch.

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  3. It's interesting Skopje is looking for new flights to the Middle East but where from? There are already Dubai and Doha served from Skopje.

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    1. Tel Aviv? Kuwait? Beirut?

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    2. TLV is a much logical. It is a year-round destination with constant demand. Plus, Macedonians do not a visa for Israel from what I just checked online, which is a plus.

      https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ConsularServices/Documents/VisaRequirements-Tourists.pdf

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    3. sure, but Israel is not part of that event :)

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    4. Israel and TLV would definitely not be taking part in any forum in Dubai.

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    5. TLV, CAI, BEY in that order

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    6. Alexandria would do well from SKP as well.

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    7. Why Alexandria?

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    8. because of Air Arabia Egypt

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  4. Well I think the mots perspective market from he Middle East to ex-Yu is definitely Bosnia/Sarajevo.

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    1. Only in summer unfortunately.

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  5. Not sure which other carriers can be added to SKP. Both FZ and QR already operate with decent frequencies.
    As for BEG, I personally think that there is way too much capacity to MEB3.
    QR, FZ + EY. That's 3 flights per day flown by A320/1 - roughly 500 daily OW seats or 1000 RT.
    Perhaps India makes much sense or another African destination e.g. Morocco.

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    1. 4 flights per day in peak summer since Etihad is flying double daily... I agree too much capacity. The Air Arabia cancellation proves it.

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  6. I'm really interested to know how Qatar Airways is performing on its Skopje flights. Anyone have some fresh loads?

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    1. They mostly manage to fill 50-80% of the seats depending on the time of the year.

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    2. The route seems to be most popular with Macedonians from Australia.

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    3. and Malaysians on second place. Their Balkan tours start in Skopje and end in Sarajevo

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    4. Wow interesting had no idea

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  7. Well Iran flights could work to Belgrade, but visas are an issue.

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    1. Pretty sure LJU or ZAG would work also pretty well from Iran if there were no Visas. Up to 10 flights a day would be possible. But unfortunately Iranian carriers do not have as many planes..

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  8. I wonder if we might see Etihad send the B787 to BEG. Their flights are constantly packed, even in winter time.

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    1. I hope so because their narrowbody product is about to become an absolute disaster.

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    2. They will become completely uncompetitive against the other Arab carriers on this route, especially Qatar Airways which offers the best service. I mean 6 hour flight without PTVs in slimline seats and with smaller meals...

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    3. They will be unable to compete against Flydubai, let alone Qatar Airways.

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    4. Well I think now is the perfect opportunity for QR to swap its A321 on the BEG route with the B787. They would completely destroy Etihad which is introducing its new product in a month or two.

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    5. I flew on QR the other day on their A321 and it was almost full! I think it would be cool to downgrade the A321 to A320 and to add two night flights like they wanted to last year.

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    6. Just because your flight in the Middle of High season (Easter) was full, it does not mean the route would be profitable. The costs for a Widebody is much higher and people would have to pay much more to get the same result which is unlikely in the low yield markets such as Serbia.

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    7. QR's biggest advantage on the BEG flight is the amount of cargo they carry.

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    8. Anon 09.29

      You are absolutely right, I guess the route was increased to the A321 because it makes BEG terminal prettier.

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    9. Maybe that too ;). The A321 however is still a narrow body and its costs are much lower than that of a widebody making the use of Widebodies in a low yield environment less likely.

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    10. Anon 09:25 is absolutely right. Similar to ZAG, BEG needs 2 flights to DOH with smaller aircraft. The night flight is quite good as it can leave BEG around 23h and arrive DOH in the morning. Excellent connections to Bali, SE Asia, etc.

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    11. EY will refit 23 planes, I think that they have more narrow bodies.
      Also, they are talking about flight "up to 5 hours", Belgrade flight is longer than that.
      They might be focusing not to Europe but to other markets with these planes (India, Asia, Africa...).

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    12. I think it's the entire narrow body fleet unfortunately as they are retiring some A320s. They have been downgrading their services on this plane bit by bit. They were the only Gulf airline to have Wifi on every single plane but since the start of the year they have eliminated that from the A320/A321s as well. I found that as one of their only advantages over QR flying out from Belgrade and actually chose them for that reason (since ticket fare is more or less the same) but they have become a very bad option. Their new flight time from Abu Dhabi to Belgrade has reduced the number of connecting routes (until the second daily flight starts) and their meals are now a joke. You get a small main meal with a piece of bread. No sides or anything. They also serve this meal on flights up to 16 hours

      https://i.imgur.com/pNjAujM.jpg

      I was a frequent Etihad flyer and enjoyed their service but it has really gone downhill in the last year.

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    13. While some are downgrading, others are taking a different approach
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stwnPaEoJx0
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y080OSfHTMU

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    14. Be careful with PR announcements :)

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    15. Njjjaaaaammmmiiii. A true 4star airline. :))))) Bravo skytrax.

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  9. I'm surprised no other airport from the region is participating.

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    1. You're absolutely right! We see Baltic presence, Slovakia and Austria.

      https://www.connect-aviation.com/2019-meia/index.php?page=attendees

      No Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, etc.

      That said, QR was due to launch TLL, but this never happened. I guess the Baltic capitals are trying to get some ME connections.

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  10. Where is ZAG?!?! Are they sleeping? Hello, FZ downgrades ZAG in winter and they don't bother with finding more options to the Middle East!

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    1. They probably don't want to anger their main customers.

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    2. Don't you think they downgraded it because of the overcapacity? Why would they need to look for other ME3 options when there are two main players in ZAG already?

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    3. Because if done properly it can succeed, look at QR. Maybe if they bring someone like Oman Air or Saudia things could work out.

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    4. ZAG has already the hightest number of seats to DXB and DOH. ZAG needs to work on more flights to TLV. FLights are crazy expensive.

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    5. Or perhaps Gulf Air with Kucko being CEO ;)

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    6. Although it sounds funny I think they should have capitalised on that and attempted to bring Gulf Air.

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    7. Kucko is coming home :)

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    8. @anon 09:40
      ZAG will have only 4 weekly flights with FlyDubai during next winter season and BEG will have 7pw

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    9. It´s a pitty flydubai has not scheduled any 737MAX aircraft in winter yet. 1/4 of their fleet is composed by the MAX aircraft.

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    10. Why are flights to ZAG on flydubai so expensive compared to say OTP or BEG?

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    11. Because there are less flights so less seats at affordable prices.

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    12. So it is because FlyDubai is Caritas in OTP or BEG and in ZAG they do not have to be?

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    13. No, that's how it works in general. If an airlines offer 10% of its seats at discounted fare then the overall number in BEG and OTP will be higher than in ZAG.

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    14. So on any ZAG flight those 10% have already been booked, while none to OTP or BEG. I thought it might have to do with competition there...

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    15. Maybe competition forced them to increase it from 10% to 30%, who knows. In ZAG there is a duopoly forming that's even hurting TK which is still not increasing winter flights.

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  11. Is there any demand from Jordan to ex-Yu? Some Jordanian airline used to fly to Belgrade around 10 years ago. RJ also wanted to buy 49% of B&H Airlines back in 2008 but TK was selected instead.

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    1. FR recently stepped in Jordan and it apparently worked quite well in both AMM and AQJ.
      Because it is an EU agreement, maybe ZAG and LJU can see future Jordanian connections?

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    2. jordanian airlines are expensive for yugo pockets

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    3. Which Jordanian airline used to fly to BEG?

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    4. It was actually around 30 years ago that RJ flew to BEG

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    5. Royal Wings RJ's short lived subsiduary flew to BEG for one season (that's how long the airline lasted as well).

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    6. Royal Jordanian was regular visitor to BEG during 80's until 1991

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    7. LJU - AMM with A319 I i am not wrong 2 per week from start of April (charter).
      Has someone more information about that?

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  12. It's really interesting. 10 years ago you couldn't have imagined the likes of Qatar, Emirates and Etihad flying to ex-Yu. Very good for the region.

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  13. Maybe FZ could start seasonal two weekly DXB-OHD flights :)

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    1. OHD is taking part of this event too (not only BEG&SKP)

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  14. TAV's biggest (some may argue "only") success was bringing FlyDubai and Qatar to SKP

    the most realistic scenario for SKP is Egypt:
    EgyptAir and AirArabia Egypt are participating at the event

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    1. I think Air Arabia could work and they could also capture some of the passengers from Kosovo too.

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    2. I do believe TAV is also responsible for LOT :)

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    3. i forgot about LOT, true dat

      @9.28 SKP-CAI would be my favourite , Air Arabia Egypt flies only from Alexandria though

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    4. I could see Air Cairo launching Hurghada - Skopje year round like they do to BEG.

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  15. It's unfortunate Wizz doesn't register itself in Macedonia. We could then see them launch flights like Dubai, Tel Aviv, Marrakesh...

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    1. no thanks, its 1 thing to fly for 1,5 hr max with a budget carrier, let alone almost 5 hrs to Dubai - and i'm only 184cm. FZ is budget enough and they often offer good prices if thats your issue with them.

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    2. W6 is really cheap to Dubai. Sometimes up to 50% cheaper than FZ.
      People will pay much less and fly for 5 hours.

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    3. TLV is closer to SKP then half of its wizz destinations

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  16. In my opinion some ex-Yu carriers should be taking part here too. I think Kuwait would be a great opportunity for JP, JU or OU if they schedule it to have excellent connections to Sarajevo. Kuwait City is the busiest unserved route from Sarajevo believe it or not. Those transfer passengers with some local P2P demand, flights could work.

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    1. The issue is that the rotation is too long and I doubt the yields would be there, even if the flight was full of transfer passengers to Sarajevo.

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  17. btw. i saw Pobeda participating too. SKP or OHD should grab that first :D

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  18. Vinci is doing great job in Belgrade!

    "We are working on bringing new airlines to Belgrade. We need some more time to work on flights lasting for over seven hours, however, we are working on all fronts, on both short and long hauls. We must now open new routes so we can secure sustainable growth in the coming years".

    It looks like there will be many more nice surprises in Belgrade!

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    1. Longer than 7 hours from BEG could be...India, China?

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    2. Maybe Ethiopian Airlines once their MAX planes are back in service. No one wants that plane falling from the skies again.

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    3. yes because the demand between Serbia and Ethiopia is big...

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    4. There would be no big demand for P2P passengers but due to the connecting passengers this route could be working

      https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/Cms_Data/Contents/EthiopianAirlines/Media/FlyEthiopian/Routenetwork/1920-x-1080-web-map-1218.jpg

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    5. You will be surprised that there is actually demand and more traffic can be generated between BEG and ADD:

      https://www.capitalethiopia.com/interview/bringing-back-pervious-ties/

      "Our political relations are excellent. Serbia and Ethiopia have been friends for decades."

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    6. Was there a route BEG-ADD back in Yugo times?

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    7. No. And Ethiopian does not launch routes based on Tito friendship.

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    8. IMT (tractors) and Galeb export quite a lot to Ethiopia. Actually Galeb even plans on assembling their cash registers down there and to export spare parts from Serbia. ET could rely on cargo to compensate for the lack of passenger numbers in high numbers.

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    9. True, but do you think Vinci can try negotiating flights to Ethiopia? ET is Africa's best airline and the ADD hub is quite large.

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    10. Nemjee in that case Ethiopian Cargo could fly to BEG.

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    11. As I said there is potential for connecting passengers

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    12. I don't know if there is that much demand for a dedicated cargo line but filling the belly on the MAX makes far more sense, at least in the beginning.

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    13. Please, don't put anything on belly of Max for some time ;)

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  19. Does anyone know the load factor of gulf airlines on any of the ex-yu routes? If you have some info please post it.

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  20. Last year Cham Wings from Syria wanted to fly four weekly to Belgrade but CAA didn't let them. Are thy at the conference? :D

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    1. Again blocked by Serbia ¿

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    2. ^ And you don't see the rationale of not allowing an airline to fly to Belgrade from an active war zone

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    3. Damascus is no longer a war zone, heck, QR even started overflying the DAM air space.

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    4. This was April last year. Who do you think would be the passengers on this route? Toursts? Holidaymakers? Please. There is a reason no one flies there.

      And your "heck Qatar Airways" argument has nothing to do with this. They just overfly their territory since like 2 days ago. They don't fly to Damascus.

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