Wataniya Airways resumed regular operations last week and started flights to Sarajevo on July 13th, 2017. The flights will operate year-round, twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights will operate three times a week during August, with additional flights on Tuesdays. Flights will be operated by Wataniya’s new Airbus A320 aircraft, with 12 business class seats and 120 economy class seats.
The notable people who flew into Sarajevo on the first flight were Mr. Izzedine – member of the Wataniya staff, Mr. Al-Tabtabae – member of the Kuwait National Assembly and Mr. Mehmed Halilović – the Bosnian ambassador to Kuwait. Passengers interviewed told reporters that the quality of flight was very good, and that they were happy with the service. Airport staff were giving out roses to the passengers after they passed through immigration and customs in Sarajevo.
The Bosnian ambassador to Kuwait, Mehmed Halilović said that “Connecting two friendly nations, Bosnia and Kuwait, with a direct flight represents an opportunity to have better connections between the nations, and that it also allows for Bosnia and Herzegovina to cooperate with Kuwait on the level of culture, of economic cooperation and of education.”
Wataniya Airways is a Kuwait-based airline that began operations in 2009, and was famous for being the only airline to operate flights out of a private terminal at Kuwait International Airport. The airline was formed as a luxury-leaning airline in terms of service, however the airline ceased operations in March of 2011 and began the process of re-organizing itself to resume services. The airline received its air operations permit on June 19th, and began service to Baku, Azerbaijan and Tbilisi, Georgia in addition to the services to Sarajevo this week. The airline currently only has one Airbus A320, but has another on order, and is looking to expand operations to 10 other new destinations after the airline begins full operations once again.
This route is the eighth route from Sarajevo to the Middle East. Three out of the five new routes to Sarajevo this year have come from destinations in Middle East, with the newest flights from Doha starting August 16th on Qatar Airways. However, flights to Europe have never been weaker. Swiss stopped flying to Sarajevo from Geneva and Zurich in the winter of 2016, citing unprofitability. Flights to Budapest on Wizz Air and to Dusseldorf on Eurowings are scheduled to start later this year, however with Hungarian subsidies fueling cheap ticket flights to Budapest, it is likely that operations will not last.
Thank you to Sarajevo International Airport and Wataniya Airways for making this event possible. All photos by the author.