Archive | February, 2013

Flydubai shelves Sarajevo flights

Flydubai shelves Sarajevo flights

Flydubai has cancelled its planned two weekly service from Dubai to Sarajevo. Although flights were to be inaugurated in April, the airline says crew duty times would have been exceeded on the return leg to Dubai. Thus, this would require a mandatory rest period for the crew in Sarajevo, which would increase costs for the no frills airline and make the route unprofitable from the outset. A year ago the airline also considered launching flights to Zagreb but decided against the move due to the same reasons. Within the former Yugoslavia, Flydubai continues to operate flights to Belgrade and Skopje. Currently, the Serbian capital is furthest to the west in Flydubai’s destination network.

Flights from Dubai to Sarajevo were first announced in December last year by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the CEO of the Emirates Group. Soon after they were confirmed by the airline’s Belgrade office, which covers the entire region of the former Yugoslavia. The news will be welcomed by Turkish Airlines which carries the largest share of passengers from Sarajevo transiting to the Middle East. The Turkish carrier will be operating up to eighteen weekly flights between the Bosnian capital and Istanbul this summer season.

As a result of Flydubai’s latest decision, the airline will operate seven weekly flights to the former Yugoslavia during the 2013 summer season. A total of four weekly flights are planned to Belgrade while services to Skopje will increase from two to three times per week. Nevertheless, Sarajevo will see flights to the Middle East this summer as Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is set to resume pilgrimage flights to the Bosnian capital while Gryphon Airlines will resume its two weekly service from Kuwait City.

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Banja Luka hopes for flights

After underperforming in 2012, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third busiest airport, Banja Luka, is hoping to secure new flights to Vienna in the coming months. The airport is currently only served by B&H Airlines to Zurich. The airport’s management has written to Austrian Airlines, encouraging it to resume flights to the city. On Tuesday Nedeljko Čubrilović, the Minister for Transport in the entity government, met with the Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the potential of flights between Banja Luka and Vienna.

In 2012 Banja Luka welcomed only 6.424 passengers, a decrease of 23.2% on the year before. Throughout last year, the airport attempted to attract new customers. During the summer it proposed for Jat Airways to make a stop in Banja Luka on its flights to the Croatian coast, however, the airline declined. It once again attempted to lure Jat late last year by offering hefty subsidies for services to Belgrade and Vienna but to no avail. Furthermore, it was rejected by the small regional airline Di Air to launch charters from Tivat during the summer.

Late last year Banja Luka Airport also held talks with Wizz Air over potential flights from Malmo, although the outcome of the talks is still unknown. At the time, the acting CEO of the Airports of Republika Srpska company, Davorin Mihić, said, “If they are willing to launch year long flights we will put tickets on sale in January while the flights will launch in April”. In December 2012, the entity government decided to close down Sky Srpska, an airline planned to be based in Banja Luka. The airport is far from its glory days of the late 1990s when it had scheduled services not only to Vienna but also to Belgrade, Athens, Tivat and Salzburg. It was once served by the likes of Austrian Airlines, Montenegro Airlines and Air Srpska. In 2012, Banja Luka Airport handled fewer passengers than other comparable airports in the region such as Niš and Brač.

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B&H Airlines to Skopje from April

B&H Airlines will launch flights to Skopje Alexander the Great Airport on April 1. Services, with the ATR72, will operate four times per week. Originally, B&H intended to launch flights to Skopje during the winter holiday season but instead it opted to postpone the service until the summer. The airline also intends to launch flights to Amsterdam and there is a possibility for services to Zagreb to be inaugurated as well as the Bosnian carrier looks to strengthen its cooperation with Croatia Airlines. Flight details for the Sarajevo – Skopje service can be found here.

B&H’s return will be welcomed news for Skopje Airport. Nordic Air Sweden has already announced that it will launch flights from Copenhagen to the Macedonian capital in late February while a possible Wizz Air expansion is also on the cards. Furthermore, Jetairfly will resume its seasonal summer flights from Brussels. Skopje will now be served by four national carriers from the former Yugoslavia – Adria Airways, B&H Airlines, Croatia Airlines and Jat Airways. With 828.831 passengers handled in 2012, Skopje will need a significant 20% passenger increase this year if it is to break its one million passenger record set in 2000.

B&H Airlines has operated flights to Skopje on and off for several years. At first the airline flew to Skopje via Podgorica. The national carrier suspended the flights after some time citing low interest. It planned to return to the Macedonian capital in the summer of 2012, however, its fleet shortage and Turkish Airlines’ exit from the carrier made it impossible. A total of five weekly flights were scheduled, departing Sarajevo in the evening with the return flight to leave Skopje early next morning, so as to connect onto B&H’s services to Europe. All EX-YU airlines rely on Macedonian transit passengers to Western Europe, with B&H now ready to re-enter the game as well.

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