Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Croatia Airlines strike begins

Croatia Airlines staff launch indefinite strike


18.20: Latest talks between the management, pilots and cabin crew have collapsed. Both pilots and cabin crew will continue their strike tomorrow, leading to further cancelations and delays.

17.30: Adria Airways, Air Explore and Trade Air to operate some of Croatia Airlines’ flights tomorrow as fresh cancellations are announced.

17.00: Croatia Airlines CEO, Krešimir Kučko, brands the carrier’s pilots as “lazy”, saying their duty times are below the European average.

17.00: Croatian pilots reject the latest offer from the managment and continue with their strike. Cabin crew are still in talks.

17.00: Croatian Air Traffic Control announces it will launch a strike of solidarity with pilots and cabin crew.

13.50: Croatian Air Traffic Control extends its support to striking colleagues.

12.35: The European Pilot Union has extended its support to its striking Croatian colleagues.

12.20: One of the three striking unions has decided to sign the new collective agreement. The union of Croatia Airlines ground staff ends its industrial action. Pilots and cabin crew continue.

12.00: The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić has responded to the industrial action taking place. “We are in the process of restructuring the airline so protests are normal and more will come. However, this issue must be solved between the employees and management. Low cost airlines can’t wait for the collapse of Croatia Airlines so I appeal to the employees for understanding since there is no other solution. The alternative is bankruptcy”, Minister Hadaš Dončić said.

Croatia Airlines pilots, cabin crew and ground staff have launched an indefinite strike this morning, angry over worsening working conditions and corruption within the carrier. Passengers will see cancellations and delays throughout the day. Croatia Airlines has cancelled its flights from Zagreb to Copenhagen, Zurich, Pula, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Barcelona, Split, Sarajevo and Vienna. Flights between Pula and Zadar have also been cancelled as well as the Split - Munich service. Some flights to Germany from Zagreb and Split will see considerable disruptions. The Croatian carrier has been forced to shortly wet lease foreign aircraft and crew to operate some of its flights. As was outlined yesterday, Adria Airways will be operating the bulk of the replacement flights with two aircraft. The Swiss based SkyWork Airlines will operate flights from Zagreb to Zurich, Split and Dubrovnik as well as the Dubrovnik - Athens route. Croatian charter airline, Trade Air, will step in to operate flights from Zagreb to Amsterdam and Skopje as well as the Split - Rome service.

Croatia Airlines staff are fuming over the proposed working conditions in the new collective agreement which is set to cut pay and holiday time. The situation has been further aggravated by the recent sacking of over forty crew members who did not show up to work during the May Day public holiday. Speaking to the “Jutarnji” daily, a cabin crew member said staff are being harassed at the airline while describing conditions on the Dash 8 turboprop as a nightmare. “Those turboprops are so loud and vibrate so much that we have headaches afterwards. Air conditioning is constantly out of order and during the winter months water does not run through the pipes so it wouldn’t freeze, meaning we can’t even wash our hands”, the cabin crew member explains. Recently, the Union of Croatia Airlines Cabin Crew requested “stress and danger” benefits for working on the Dash. “We are treated as if we are worthless. The management would probably get rid of all of us if they could”, the crew member concludes.

The Prime Minister of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, criticised the airline’s staff saying a Malev like scenario awaits Croatia Airlines if it doesn’t get its act together. “We have a company that carries passengers, has been subsidised for the past twenty years and is constantly producing losses. Hungary no longer has a national airline. If we don’t change a similar fate awaits us. So, pilots and cabin crew understand that the alternative is equal to zero. If we change a little we have a chance”, Prime Minister Milanović said.

Croatia Airlines staff responded angrily to the criticism saying Mr. Milanović, his Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, and Croatia Airlines CEO Krešimir Kučno have brought the airline to its knees. “No one has been held accountable for bringing the airline to the brink of collapse. They say we need a “clean start” with the same people and same methods. Honourable Prime Minister, two years since restructuring began we now have 42 unlawful dismissals. The only action that has been taken is that one CEO was replaced by another. The management has just continued to destroy and steal everything it can”, the unions said.

The strike by pilots, crew and ground staff is indefinite, meaning it will only come to an end once a compromise is found between the two sides. EX-YU Aviation News will update this page throughout the day.


  1. oh cummon... There's nothing wrong with the Q400

    Stress and danger, my a**

    1. and these 35 or so world wide operators would agree.

  2. Hahahah this is better than a Colombian/Spanish/Turkish/Indian/whatever soap opera.

    Just shut this joke of an airline down and let the private investors set up a carrier if there is a need for one.

    1. I know! isn't Jat just hilarious!!

    2. Mrtva trka bnetwen Jat and Croatia Airlines

    3. What has Jat got to do with anything? Stop being so damn obsessed with Serbia.

    4. As much as JAT is in sh**s, and as old as are their planes, I don't remember this ever happening

    5. Jat had strikes every few second some 4 years ago. And one was very near in this winter (remember all those press raping from pilots and announcements) but politician give them fairy tale which made them silence for several months.

    6. Not true, the strike was never by Jat itself it was by Jat Tehnika and by Jat Catering. If I am not mistaken this was in 2008 or so.

      There is a crucial difference between almost going on strike and actually going on it. Jat managed to avert the crisis.

      I still can't believe that the moment someone, anyone, complains about Croatia, Croats immediately attack Serbia. Get a life.

    7. “Managed to silence them for a few months” – its 2013 the last strike was in 2008…. That’s a long few months. On the other hand OU strikes in 2010, last year and this year. Look I feel sorry for the passengers but I don’t understand why you had to bring Jat into this. Has absolutely nothing to do with it but best to avoid the topic when it doesn’t suit you.

    8. OFF COURSE there weren't any serious strikes in Jat - HELLO ... it's very simple why.

      Because there isn't any serious restructuring/changing taking place in the heads of Jat management and/or employees. No one has been touched yet and the goverenment will keep on pumpin in more money.

      Jat and Serbia are in a position in which they can still keep their heads in the gutter. No one is forcing them to change - YET.

      Croatia and OU are struggling, and that's normal. Something is trying to get done there...

    9. You are really something.

      No one mentioned Jat in this story about Croatia Airlines from Croatian side, as Croatian side never, but absolutely never starts with provocation.

      But on very beginning of this discussion there was comment:
      "As much as JAT is in sh**s, and as old as are their planes, I don't remember this ever happening"

      ...so you really thing that we are impolite when we react on that?

      But sure, Jat is the best, much better than Croatia, with more passengers, bigger fleet, no delays those day, with satisfied crew which did not strongly publish their dissatisfaction in press (and then they were silenced by fairy tales about Etihad and new planes), Jat has fleet with new planes, 6 of them coming till last March, best web check-in etc.

  3. Nothing wrong with Q400! They are very smooth for a turboprop! I suggest the cabin crew leave if they don't like working on them!

  4. I’m on the side of the crew here! If you actually knew the amount of corruption and nepotism at the top of OU you would be too.

  5. Sorry if you all read this on the previous post I think it is worth reposting.

    So, what have we learnt?

    Croatia Airlines has no money, Adria has no money, Jat has no money, Montenegro Airlines has no money BiH airlines has no money.
    All these airlines operated to keep a respectfully huge amount of people employed and based on a business model which is outdated and clearly not working. No one seems to know how to change this around or simply don't want to and now that there is a recession all these respective countries have no money left to keep these leaking ships floating any more. The near future looks really bleak for all Ex Yu airlines!!

    Looks like they have learnt nothing but I wonder if all these carriers go bust if the winners in the long run will be the airports and the regions they service as the airports will be overtaken by low cost carriers and as such fly in more people.

    The legacy carrier model has no place at this time in the Ex Yu region. Adria CEO said one thing here that is true, ' We need to create some sort of a hybrid model'. Virgin Blue comes to mind here and the early model they adopted when they went from being a low cost carrier to a half way between a full service and low cost following the Ansett collapse and they did this within months of making that decision and it was a success and continues to be.

    The service offered by the airlines in the Ex Yu region simply does not reflect what the people from Ex Yu want or need. It is really nice to see what OU has done with its on board product recently, with the improvements in catering etc, but what's the point when know one knows about it unless they fly with OU or have 'liked' the airline on facebook and see the nice pictures but still this does not guarantee they will fly with the airline. So I ask again, what's the point! If OU for example offered a long distance service, than maybe this would be a consideration but they never fly anywhere more than 2.5 hours scheduled so catering is not really a consideration. So again, what the point!

    What people really seem to want from the Ex Yu is to know they will get to where they need to go at a reasonable price. Food is no issue on a average flight for EX YU airlines and big savings can be made here if the Virgin Blue (now virgin Australia) model of old is implemented in terms of catering and ticket pricing. I think it would be very acceptable for the region, more people will fly and will have the choice to buy good food during the flight which everyone seems to do anyway with virgin because it both taste good and it helps pass the time.

    Business class service will always be there for those who want it on other carriers, Lufthansa, BA etc, but why does OU have a mediocre business class product with pathetic prices that no one seems to hardly use???? again a major waste in space a resources. If Ex Yu airlines really do want to offer a separate class than it should be premium economy, serviced and priced as such. This way next time I fly with OU, the front would not be empty!

    It is soooo painfully obvious how easy it is to make a real go as success with any airline in the region but unfortunately there just seems to be no determinations for any of the managers of the region. Big changes need to me made and I just commented on the tip of the ice burg but is it too late!

    1. Very interesting analysis, I completely agree with you that economy only with on-board sale of food would be a way to go (with one bag free a la Southwest). However, I'm not sure that premium economy without business class would make much sense - what would be the extra that people would pay for?

    2. The point I was making regarding business class is that there seems to be no need for it or the demand for it is just not there to sustain it. Add to that that none of the Ex Yu carriers offer anything really special at all on there business class product. All you get is a selection of news papers, larger seating area (with the middle seat removed so not actually getting a better seat just a wider one), a bit more leg room and maybe improved meal on a flight longer than 1.5 hours.

      This already sounds much more like what airlines are already offering as premium economy and my argument is that it should than be sold as such with prices reflecting what it actually is.

      At the moment they offer this product for as much as 700 euros one way and when (as you can read in forums such as skytrax) people are left scratching there heads as to why they forked out so much more and not really noticing the difference so the next time they either fly economy or a different airline.

      So what extra premium economy benefits passengers could get:

      Same seating as current business class.
      Free meal and beverage service.
      No cancellation fees and free changes to flight.
      Access to business lounge.
      Extra luggage allowance.
      and a fee which more represents the product your selling so the front of the aircraft is not empty most of the time.

    3. You say premium economy should have access to business lounges. Do you have any idea how crowded they can be? At peak hours I myself prefer to "camp" outside of the gate rather than using the lounges at certain airports..


  7. JU's Brussels flight yesterday was late cause of BRU airport strike.

    1. No it wasn't, because they're handled by Aviapartner and not Swissport. I was scheduled to be on the flight. The plane had an unspecified technical malfunction and they kept us waiting for a goddamn eight hours at the gate with no official announcement, expected boarding time or proper care. All we got were vouchers amounting to exactly 3.3 EUR.

  8. Some passengers may book BH Airlines flights at Banjaluka Airport. Banjaluka - Zurich.

  9. Such problems dont we have in macedonia......we arent pro enough to manage a succesful airline, perhaps all ex-yu countries should learn from macedonia.

  10. Does anyone knows why QATAR sent its B773 today to Belgrade? Is it a big demand or just lack of A320 plane family, or some other reason?

    1. Where did you get that?

    2. Tuesday flight is an Ankara terminator flight, so no leg to BEG. Restarting in June I believe.

  11. Saw it on Flightradar24.com

  12. Couldnt Have happened to a nicer airline :D

  13. Sad it has come to this.

    Both sides need to be realistic here - the airline has an inflated headcount, widespread managerial corruption, and should be geared towards a higher % of pax travelling to/from Croatia (ie geared towards coastal seasonality). And joining the EU on July 1 will only make it tougher for the airline to restructure as it needs to do for the future.

    From the staff point of view, the Q400 arguments are a joke (its one of the most economical, successful 70-seaters flying anywhere in the world) and ideally suited to OUs current network. But these people are seriously worried about their job security.

    From the management point of view, an inability to think outside the square and an inflated managerial structure needs to be urgently addressed. Additionally, the future direction of the airline must be questioned - it seems the current leadership (or lack thereof) is actually hurting the airline. Where are the new destinations? Where is the profitability? How much of these current problems can be based on an Europe-only operations (Moscow, Tel Aviv and Dubai are much needed year-round destinations which could be served using the current fleet).

    While the seating offering is definitely not true business-class offer, would losing the flexibility of convertible seats to an all-Y config when required cost the airline more? I believe if they are going to offer a proper C-class seat, 12 seats is too many (in current config) - 6-8 is probably the better balance.

    1. In my above scenario you don't have to change the seating because what they have on board now more reflects premium economy than business class. And you can keep the quick conversion option to all economy when required. But just sell the product as premium, not business class at respectful prices. Then maybe they will be used more often therefore increase revenue.

  14. 'Croatia Airlines CEO, Krešimir Kučko, brands the carrier’s pilots as “lazy”, saying their duty times are below the European average.'

    Being below average in this case is a good thing with the European duty time average probably being mostly influenced by the dangerous working hours forced onto the flight crews of the major low cost carriers.
    However, this is not only a European problem. It is not uncommon for a Jetstar pilot here in Australian to finish a 8 hour flying roster at 9pm only to be required to start a new one at 5am the next day!

    Issue with flight fatigue in this new low cost era world is a real problem and will probably take a string of fatal related accidents to have it taken seriously.


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