“That day has come. We have linked Philadelphia, the largest airline hub of American Airlines, and Dubrovnik as a tourist attraction for American tourists,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic, at a special reception organised for the first flight from American Airlines to Dubrovnik for this year.
This is the first time in 28 years that Croatia has a direct, or nonstop, air connection with America, and the flights have proved so popular with American visitors that in addition to the three flights a week an extra flight has been added throughout September.
Last year in Dubrovnik Americans were the second most numerous visitors, largely thanks to the HBO serial Game of Thrones, and this fact is even more impressive when you bear in mind that there were no direct flights to the city.
“After long negotiations, we recognized American Airlines as the largest company in the world and we started talking. Two years ago we promised to establish a direct line to Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik and our county, US tourists are in second place behind guests from the United Kingdom,” said Luetić.
Satisfaction with the establishment of direct flights was voiced by the United States Deputy Ambassador to Croatia, Victoria Taylor, and the American Airlines Director of Europe, Richard Muis, who together with the hosts from Dubrovnik Airport officially cut the cake.
“This is a big day today, the first direct flight from the USA since Croatia's independence, and in this way we have opened the way for better cooperation between the two countries. Last year more than 500,000 US visitors visited our country, and since the beginning of the year we have seen a 14 percent increase in guest numbers,” commented the Frano Matušić, the State Secretary, of Ministry of Tourism of Croatia.
Flights to Dubrovnik will be scheduled on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and flights from Dubrovnik will take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays. And according to reports many of the flights have been completely sold out already.
The first passengers at the Dubrovnik Airport were welcomed with special gifts and a performance by traditional music and dance. This new link will be especially interesting for Croatian expats who live in America. “We are delighted and we wanted to get to the very first flight to Croatia. Now we will come a lot more often than before. This is something unreal to us,” commented Ana Cavlovic from Kansas City.