FlyBosnia, the start-up airline based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has operated flights to China for the first time in Sarajevo Airport’s history. To help Bosnia’s public health system, the airline flew to Shanghai, Qingdao, and Beijing last month. Let’s take a look.
The cargo flights
FlyBosnia told Simple Flying it has reorganized its operations to adjust to the new circumstances arising as a result of COVID-19. The airline has responded to the slump in worldwide passenger demand by devoting all its resources to rescue flights for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina stranded abroad, and for cargo operations.
For these purposes, FlyBosnia has sent its sole Airbus A319 to Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG), Qingdao Liuting International Airport (TAO), and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). This was the first time in the history of Sarajevo Airport, including during Yugoslavia, that this city was connected to these airports.
This is not the first time FlyBosnia broke records at Sarajevo: last year, thanks to the airline opening a base there, Sarajevo Airport registered its busiest year ever, and 10% passenger growth.
FlyBosnia said it receives requests on a daily basis to transport medical equipment and materials from China required by Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen its public healthcare system against COVID-19. Presumably, the airline needs to accumulate a sufficient volume of cargo requests before such operations are profitable.
The Airbus A319 is a narrowbody aircraft, and does not have the range to reach China from Sarajevo International Airport. So, on its way to Shanghai, Qingdao, and Beijing, FlyBosnia has been making fuel stops along the way.
For example, on its most recent rotation to Shanghai last week, FlyBosnia’s Airbus A319 stopped in Sary-Arka Airport (KGF), in Karaganda in Kazakhstan. On its way back from China, the A319 stopped in Almaty International Airport, also in Kazakhstan.
At the same time, FlyBosnia has also been operating rescue flights to both Italy and Sweden. The airline is still working with the Bosnian government over potentially putting on more rescue flights.
What’s next for FlyBosnia?
Before COVID-19, FlyBosnia was planning to expand its operations significantly. A year after it launched its first European flights to London Luton, FlyBosnia planned to start flying to Paris, Barcelona, Moscow, Zurich, and Milan.
This expansion is now unlikely to take place in the foreseeable future, as worldwide demand for air travel has slumped sharply. In fact, FlyBosnia is not selling tickets for flights from Sarajevo to Rome until 3rd August, and it has halted ticket sales to London Luton.
But the airline’s reputation has been lifted significantly now that it is seen as a vital link for cargo between Bosnia and the world, and as an operator of rescue flights. For comparison, Banja Luka spent a whole month planning a cargo flight from China with Ethiopian.
This might count in its favor if Bosnia is faced with a choice of whether to support it financially or not.