Airline Startup Of The Week: FlyBosnia

FlyBosnia, a privately owned startup, will operate its first scheduled route between Sarajevo and Kuwait this summer. We take a closer look at this new Bosnia and Herzegovinian airline.

FlyBosnia's A319 fleet is set to grow.
FlyBosnia’s A319 fleet is set to grow. Image Source: FlyBosnia

The airline is currently running domestic test flights between Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Mostar. It has an Airbus A319 leased from AerCap with three more on order. The next aircraft in its fleet will arrive at the end of April 2019.

FlyBosnia will launch its first international route to Kuwait on June 4th, 2019. After launch it will operate the route three times per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Key destinations in the Middle East and Europe

Reports indicate that the airline’s launch has been delayed due to demand for airport slots. This as per CEO Chris Gabriel who revealed:

Our key destinations in the first phase of air operations will be Riyadh, Jeddah, Kuwait, Bahrain Int’l, Beirut, and Amman Queen Alia in the Middle East, and London, Frankfurt Int’l, Rome, and Dublin Int’l in Europe.

Gabriel said in March 2019:

We have made significant progress in confirming airport slots in preparation for the upcoming launch of scheduled flights and are also working to confirm select charter flights from the numerous charter requests we have received to date.

The startup is recruiting “further crew and ramping up training” in order to deliver its promise of connecting Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Middle East and Europe through direct flights.

FlyBosnia is recruiting and ramping up training.
FlyBosnia is recruiting and ramping up training. Image Source: FlyBosnia

Charter demand is high

Gabriel told the Sarajevo Times in recent days that charter requests were so high that FlyBosnia “probably can’t fulfil the demand in the early stages.” As it builds its schedule, it is slotting in the charters.

FlyBosnia is based at Sarajevo International Airport, after first registering in November 2017. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation issued the new airlines Air Operator Certificate (AOC) on January 11th, 2019. The AOC has authorized FlyBosnia for commercial operations including carrying passengers, goods, and mail. In a recent press release on its first flight FlyBosnia writes:

We are happy to be recognized at the very beginning as a new, young and dynamic airline that will surely additionally connect Sarajevo with world destinations.

The airline recently won “New Business of the Year” at the Sarajevo Business Forum International Investor Conference where it thanked the Bosnian and Herzegovinian government, ministers, and authorities for their support and confidence in the airline.

Ambitious and sustainable plans

FlyBosnia plans to build to a fleet of eight aircraft by 2023. They also want to more than double the number of flights in and out of Sarajevo over the next 12-15 months. Its overall aim is to become the national carrier of Bosnia and Herzegovina. CEO Gabriel adds:

We want to be a safe, reliable and affordable airline. We want to care for our customers and give them the ability to finally experience the beauty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

FlyBosnia focuses on sustainability and on a niche market where there is both demand and a lack of direct flights currently.

In January 2019, the Sarajevo Times reported that Sarajevo International Airport was seeing an increase in both the number of flights and destinations. Amongst the growth, Aegean Airlines has added flights to and from Athens. Tunisair has added a seasonal schedule to and from Monastery. Passenger volume through the airport grew by nearly 10% in 2018 from the previous year.

FlyBosnia joins a number of airline startups set for the skies this year. Others include AirPremia of South Korea, and Kazakhstan’s FlyArystan.