American Airlines Flies First Nonstop Flight From US to Croatia in 28 Years
For the first time in 28 years, a nonstop flight from the US landed in the "Pearl of the Adriatic" on Saturday, June 8. The American Airlines flight, its inaugural service on the route, departed from Philadelphia Friday at 6:30pm and landed in Dubrovnik on Saturday around 9:30am with 209 passengers aboard the Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.
The service will operate three times a week, leaving Philadelphia on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and from Dubrovnik on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays. American announced that it will expand the service to four times a week in September until the end of the month. The flight to Dubrovnik takes around 9 hours, 15 minutes with the return scheduled for about 10 hours, 25 minutes. The seasonal service is scheduled to run through Sept. 27.
The flight was the first nonstop between the US and Croatia in 28 years, according to The Dubrovnik Times.
"Dubrovnik has been a place of interest for several years. It has grown in popularity among US travelers, but remained unserved by US airlines. American Airlines saw an opportunity to fill that gap. We are very pleased with sales on this route," said American Airlines Vice President for Hub Operations Jim Moses said, according to the EX-YU Aviation News site that tracks aviation new in the former Yugoslavia.
Croatian officials are treating the flights as a trial run to that could eventually lead to nonstop services to other US airports, according to EX-YU Aviation News. If all goes well with Philadelphia, nonstop flights between New York and Zagreb will hopefully begin in summer 2020, Gari Cappelli, the Croatian minister for tourism said to Croatia's public broadcaster HRT.
"Philadelphia was chosen to be linked with Dubrovnik, because it is an east coast hub for the airline and has excellent links with the west coast, Canada, as well the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Therefore, we expect a lot of transfer passengers as well. Furthermore, Philadelphia is close to New York, which is too congested," Frano Luetić, general manager of Dubrovnik Airport, added, according to EX-YU Aviation News.
As for Dubrovnik, American said it chose the specific location, because it is the most visited destination in Croatia for Americans. The US also has generations of Croats who have expressed desire to visit their homeland. Other popular Croatian destinations for Americans include Split and Zagreb.
Though this is the first nonstop flight between the two countries in nearly three decades, it is not the first nonstop flight ever. Dubrovnik Airport previously had nonstop services to New York JFK and Chicago O'Hare prior to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. While many know Dubrovnik as the Game of Thrones capital, there's plenty more to the city to explore.