20 years in the skyYesterday Croatia Airlines celebrated 20 years since it operated its first flight. The Croatian national carrier, which had been renamed from Zegal Zagreb Airlines, operated its first service on May 5 between Zagreb and Split with a leased Adria Airways MD-83. It took a year before the airline established international flights to Frankfurt in Germany, which remains its largest international market. The airline acquired 3 of Lufthansa’s Boeing 737-200s. The Croatian carrier has continually renewed its fleet over the last 2 decades, purchasing regional ATR42s and later introducing Airbus A319 and A320 models with its newest additions being the Bombardier Dash 8 jets.
The airline has done a lot in its 20 years. It created a notable domestic network and carried more than 20.500.000 passengers, becoming the leading EX-YU national carrier in terms of passenger numbers. It has also become a full member of Star Alliance and will operate its first flight to neighbouring Serbia on June 20, putting the past behind and looking to the future. If all goes to plan, the first of 4 ordered Airbus A319s should start arriving next year.
Some notable milestones for the airline include it becoming the first airline to operate into post war Sarajevo, it flew the late Pope John Paul II on his visit to Croatia and has carried over 1 million passengers annually since 2000.
However, the airline faces a challenging future with a planned strike, a 15 million Euro loss recorded in 2010 and increased competition from low cost airlines.