Osijek to get Zagreb connection
Croatian charter airline Trade Air has been granted rights to operate scheduled, year long, domestic flights. Trade Air will launch services from Osijek to Zagreb later this year. On the other hand, Croatia Airlines has been given orders from the government to maintain flights from Osijek to Split and Dubrovnik. Both Trade Air and Croatia Airlines are to maintain their Osijek services until 2016. Trade Air, which boasts a fleet of two Fokker 100 aircraft, said late last year it was considering entering the scheduled traffic market in order to break Croatia Airlines’ monopoly on domestic flights within the country. At the time, the airline noted it was considering launching Croatia’s busiest domestic route - Zagreb to Dubrovnik. However, these plans are yet to materialise.
The news of Trade Air’s arrival will be warmly welcomed by Osijek Airport. Late last year, the Croatian government ordered Croatia Airlines to launch the Zagreb - Osijek service five times per week, with the airline planning to lease an EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft exclusively for the Osijek flights. The Croatian government has the right to order its national carrier to launch services between cities within the country if it is deemed vital for socio-economic development. The decision must be respected regardless of whether the route is profitable or not. However, Croatia Airlines never launched the flights to Osijek saying the service was unprofitable.
Osijek Airport has been struggling in recent years to attract customers and has also been hit by claims of mismanagement. In 2012 the airport welcomed just over 2.000 passengers, down 90% on 2011.The airport’s CEO says Osijek will see flights to Munich, Bern and Cologne this winter, although he did not disclose which airline would operate the flights.