flynas, the leading Saudi low-cost airline, inaugurated a brand new route from Podgorica Airport (TGD) to Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH) yesterday, Thursday 28th July 2022.
The route launch came after intense negotiations between Montenegro and flynas, and it follows Montenegro’s quest to attract tourists from new markets now that it has lost all tourists from Russia and Ukraine, two of its most important markets.
However, this route will only operate once a week, every Thursday, and only until September 1st. This means there are going to be only six rotations on the route. All will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft.
Furthermore, flights do not run in a straightforward manner. The first rotation ran under the following schedule:
- Flight XY355 departed Riyadh (RUH) at 15:30 and arrived in Podgorica Airport (TGD) at 19:35.
- Flight XY355 then departed Podgorica (TGD) at 20:25 to arrive in Tirana (TIA) in Albania at 21:15.
- Then, flight number XY356 departed Tirana (TIA) at 22:10 and arrived in Riyadh (RUH) at 03:50.
Future flights are currently also scheduled to operate as a triangle route. flynas is clearly testing out a new market to see if it is commercially viable before it commits to more frequencies and a longer operating period next year.
The President of the Board of Directors of Airports of Montenegrothe company that runs the country’s two airports, said that flights could also operate in the winter to cater for ski holiday demand and that next year flights could also be launched from Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED).
The Airbus A320 touched down in Montenegro yesterday. Photo: flynas
What made the flights happen?
Flying to Podgorica is not an obvious choice for a low-cost Saudi airline. The flights were launched after a lot of effort from Montenegro to attract new tourists.
For example, the country’s government is allowing visa-free travel for Saudi citizens until the end of September this year.
As Simple Flying reported at the time, in February this year, flynas and Airports of Montenegro engaged in negotiations over the launch of these flights, together with the Montenegrin Government.
flynas was represented by three high-ranking members of its management: Executive Director Stafan Magier, Vice President of International Sales Abdulillah Al Eidi, and the Regional Manager, Mehmed Caymaz. Meanwhile, on the other side, Airports of Montenegro was represented by one of its directors, Prof. Dr. Eldin Dobardžić, while the Government of Montenegro sent its Deputy Prime Minister.
Montenegro hopes this is the beginning of the opening of a new market for its tourism industry. Photo: flynas
Montenegro has previously removed visa requirements for citizens of Kazakhstan. This then saw Air Astana launch flights to the country, bringing in tourists on its Airbus A321LRs.
Montenegro is not in the European Union, and it is separated from its traditional emitting markets of Scandinavia, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine by multiple border crossings.
Thus, the country is fully aware that air connectivity is key for its tourism industry, which, in turn, is key for its GDP. Montenegro is more reliant on tourism than any other European economy.
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