Time running out for Osijek - Zagreb service launch
The Croatian government has ordered its national carrier to launch flights from Osijek to Zagreb by the end of the year. However, with just over two weeks left until 2012 comes to a close, it looks unlikely that Croatia Airlines will manage to lease a small commuter aircraft, put tickets on sale and inaugurate the flights. Osijek Airport CEO, Domagoj Marinić, believes Croatia Airlines is stalling with the flight launch since the route to Zagreb is unprofitable. “Croatia Airlines insists it is working through complex procedures to lease a thirty seat aircraft from Hungary. I would ask them to hurry up”, Mr. Marinić says.
The Croatian government has the right to order its national carrier to launch flights between cities within the country if the service is deemed vital for socio-economic development. The decision must be respected regardless of whether the route is profitable or not. “We have requested for the service to be launched prior to the Christmas holidays while the government has ordered for the flights to be inaugurated by the end of the year”, Mr. Marinić says. Osijek Airport, which has no scheduled flights, handled only 2.171 passengers in the first ten months of the year, down 91% on the same period in 2011. According to an earlier agreement with the airport, Croatia Airlines’ flights between Osijek and Zagreb are to operate five times per week with services to Dubrovnik and Split to be introduced on a seasonal basis over the summer months.
The Croatian carrier hopes to lease an Embraer EMB120 for exclusive use on its Osijek flights. The thirty seat turboprop would be leased from Budapest Aircraft Service. It features a 2+1 seat layout and has low operating costs. The lease of the aircraft was first announced in August when Osijek Airport held talks with Croatia Airlines for flights to operate between Osijek, Zagreb and Split over the 2012/2013 winter season.