Ryanair's first EX-YU base opens
Europe’s largest low cost airline, Ryanair, has opened its first base in the former Yugoslavia, in Zadar. The airline has already launched services to Beauvais, Billund, Charleroi, Dublin, Frankfurt Hahn, Gothenburg-City, Baden-Baden, Liverpool, London Stansted, Marseille, Oslo Rygge, Stockholm Skavsta and Weeze. Services to East Midlands will be launched on Friday while on June 16 the airline will introduce flights to Oslo Torp. The base will operate on a seasonal summer flights, meaning the airline won’t be sticking around during the winter months, though local authorities are hoping to reach a deal with the no frills airline for it to operate some flights even during the low season. Ultimately, the decision will be based on the performance of its summer services.
Zadar Airport expects to handle over 500.000 passengers this year. Last year the airport welcomed 371.256 travellers through its doors. Ryanair has now based a Boeing 737-800 at the airport. A total of 1.4 million euros has been provided to the low cost airline for it to make Zadar its 54th base. It is argued that the money will be well spent and the return for the city and Croatian tourism will be much greater. The Croatian Tourism Association has provided half of the above-mentioned sum while the rest has been paid for by local authorities and businesses benefiting from the new flights.
Ryanair has hired local staff on its flights from Zadar. The airline has employed ten pilots, cabin crew and mechanics with a total workforce of forty. “This is a major success for our airport and the Zadar region and testament that we are on the right path”, the CEO of Zadar Airport, Katica Pupić Bakrač, says. Within the former Yugoslavia, Ryanair only operates flights to the Croatian coast. The low cost airline had an unsuccessful venture in Slovenia several years ago when it operated flights to Maribor for a short time. Ryanair becomes the third low cost airline to have a base in the former Yugoslavia, joining Belle Air Europe and Wizz Air. Belle Air Europe calls Priština its home while Wizz Air has bases in both Belgrade and Skopje.