Croatia Airlines becomes latest EX-YU carrier with fleet problems
The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, announced yesterday that Croatia Airline will have to shed its fleet in order to return to profitability and avoid bankruptcy. The news comes just over a month before the carrier’s busy summer season begins. “We have two possibilities. Either sell one or two aircraft, as well as property owned by the company, or find a strategic partner willing to buy a 25% to 30% stake in the carrier. If we fail to do so the airline will go into bankruptcy. That is something we would certainly want to avoid as it would have unforeseeable consequences on the Croatian economy”, Mr. Hajdaš Dončić said.
It is believed Croatia Airlines has already earmarked the sale of one of its Airbus A320s this summer, leaving the carrier with twelve aircraft. The exit of the jet is also expected to have an impact on the carrier’s summer season network with some routes to be cut. Croatia Airlines is yet to finalise its 2013 summer timetable. Furthermore, the carrier plans to further delay the arrival of four Airbus A319s. Media reports suggest the airline was pressured into ordering the aircraft so the then prime minister of the country, Ivo Sanader, now serving a ten year jail sentence for corruption, could meet then French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who himself is being investigated for several corruption scandals.
Last summer, three consultancy firms advised the airline to retire one of its A320s in order to return to profitability. In contrast to the advised, Croatia Airlines went on to lease a Fokker F100 from Trade Air during the summer months and even used one of Adria’s Airbus jets for some of its weekend flights. At the time, the advisers also shortlisted flights to London Gatwick, Paris, Istanbul, Podgorica, Priština and Copenhagen for suspension unless the routes do not start making money in the foreseeable future.