The search is on for Croatia Airlines’ new owner
The Croatian government has announced plans to sell its national carrier as its future could be jeopardised once the country joins the European Union. The government has been providing subsidies to Croatia Airlines for years, with a final aid package approved in late 2012. However, the airline will run into trouble from July 1 when Croatia joins the European Union, which bans subsidies on individual companies. If no strategic partner is found, Croatia Airlines will have to finance some 50% of the cost of a restructuring plan already in place to sack 200 workers from a total of 1.070 and cancel some flights.
The Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić says, “We will fight for Croatia Airlines to survive, but if you’re following the regional markets, you have to know that all regional airlines are in bad shape and are struggling to find a strategic partner”. He added that the government was already in preliminary talks with “potential strategic partners”. No names have yet been floated though the daily “Jutranji” believes Etihad Airways could come to Croatia Airlines’ help after purchasing neighbouring Jat Airways. "If the strategic partner is from outside the European Union, the maximum stake we'd sell would be 49%. If it is from the EU, the stake can be up to 100%", Mr. Hajdaš Dončić explains.
The Croatian government has done a major back flip on its decision to sell the airline. Last year it said there was no need to privatise the national carrier in the coming years. Croatia Airlines is in the process of restructuring which is to be completed by 2015. During this summer season the carrier cancelled several high profile routes. Recently, pilots and cabin crew have threatened to strike after failing to reach a deal over new collective agreements with the management. The carrier has now signed a new collective agreement with three out of six unions. The Croatian Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović, believes the national airline will come out of the current crisis. He concludes, “Croatia Airlines has a future”.