Low cost airlines taking over Croatia

easyJet becomes number 2 in Croatia
The Croatian Ministry of Tourism is hoping to sign contracts with a number of tour operators and airlines by January 2011 in a bid to increase UK arrivals to the country, the “Travel Weekly” reports. The Croatian Minister of Tourism, Damir Bajs, said that a strong working relationship with tour operators was the key to success on the British market. Bajs also added that he was hopeful that low cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet will add more flights to the country next year.

Low cost carriers are developing an increasing presence in Croatia. easyJet has now taken over Germanwings as the second busiest carrier in the country while Norwegian and Ryanair have all added capacity in 2010. Two more low cost airlines, Vueling and Wizz Air, also rank among the top 10 carriers in Croatia, according to “Anna Aero”. easyJet has gone from operating just 3 routes in the summer of 2008 to 18 routes (10 to Split and 8 to Dubrovnik) this summer. Earlier this month, it commenced flights to Zagreb from Paris, which are being followed by London Gatwick flights next March. During the summer, Norwegian operated 44 weekly departures on 18 routes from its bases in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. In 2011 the airline will add flights to Croatia from its newest base in Finland. This summer saw Ryanair operate 14 routes to Croatia, 11 to Zadar, 1 to Pula and 1 to Osijek.

Most low cost airlines operating to Croatia on a seasonal summer basis are heavily subsidized which has led to anger on Croatia Airlines’ behalf. The national carrier had been content with low cost operations until recently when it was announced that low cost carriers are expanding towards its home turf in Zagreb with year round flights. With even more competition announced next summer, Croatia Airlines has a difficult battle to win.

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