The Sarajevo-based start-up FlyBosnia took delivery of its first aircraft in Sarajevo yesterday. The sixteen-year-old Airbus A319 jet from AerCap boasts 156 seats, twelve of which are in business class. The aircraft, which was repainted and retrofitted in Sofia, will now undergo final checks before the Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate for Civil Aviation issues the Saudi-backed airline an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), enabling it to launch commercial operations. The carrier’s new CEO, Australian Chris Gabriel, said the company would focus both on flights to the Middle East and Europe. “I want to congratulate the entire FlyBosnia team which made this moment possible. The dream has become a reality after a lot of work and dedication by all involved in this project. FlyBosnia is developing a platform which will enable the Bosnian diaspora to fly home with greater ease”, Ex-Yu Aviation News reports.
FlyBosnia originally planned to commence operations between Sarajevo and Riyadh in June but failed to obtain an AOC at the time. In a recent company presentation, the airline said, “Operating initially one Airbus A319 aircraft under a dry lease agreement, FlyBosnia will add a second A319 within six to twelve months to provide extra capacity on the Sarajevo – Riyadh route, as well as new destinations when operationally viable”. Mr Gabriel says that other destinations will include both points in the Middle East and Europe, such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Moscow. “We want the number of flights from Sarajevo to more than double over the next twelve to eighteen months”, the CEO added. The newly established airline currently has some twenty cabin crew personnel and eight pilots in its ranks.
The General Manager of Sarajevo Airport, Armin Kajmaković, said, “This is an extremely positive development both for Sarajevo Airport and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. We want to wish this young carrier, which has already employed a significant number of individuals, many new flights and routes, and for it to launch services to European destinations”.
FlyBosnia has been set up by Saudi Arabia’s Al Shiddi Group, which was founded in 1975 with interests in various fields, including construction, real estate, agriculture and tourism. It has been operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2006, where the group consists of four companies – SRE Investment, Shad Invest, Sarajevo City Center (SCC) and Hotel Bristol. To date, they have committed in excess of twenty million euros in start-up capital to FlyBosnia. “FlyBosnia has conducted extensive market research and detailed operational and financial business planning. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an emerging tourist destination, experiencing year-on-year growth of between 10% – 20%. There is no existing national airline serving Bosnia and Herzegovina, so FlyBosnia will immediately apply for national carrier status”, the company previously said.