Croatia Airlines downsizing on fleet and selling Heathrow slots
Croatia Airlines is planning on purchasing Embraer aircraft to replace part of its costly Airbus fleet. In line with its restructuring program, the Croatian carrier anticipates the sale of three of its Airbus jets in the coming period. Originally, the airline intended to sell two of its Airbus aircraft and lease them back immediately, a common cost saving measure. However, the management is believed to have given up on the idea. The airline is now keen on purchasing Embraer jets from the Lufthansa owned Augsburg Airways, which is to cease operations on October 31. Croatia Airlines recently leased out one of its A320s to Tunisian based Syphax Airlines and began procedures on cancelling its order for four Airbus A319s.
Aviation analysts warn Croatia Airlines’ planned shift to Embraer will be extremely costly as the airline has never operated the type and would have three different aircraft types in its fleet - Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier. Apart from selling some of its Airbus jets, the Croatian carrier also plans to sell engines from its aircraft, as outlined in a recent restructuring program approved by the Croatian Competition Agency. Furthermore, it will sell land owned at Zagreb Airport and its shares in “Obzor putovanja”, “Amadeus” and “Pleso prevoz”.
As part of its restructuring program Croatia Airlines will also sell its lucrative slots at Heathrow Airport. Earlier this year the airline discontinued its Zagreb - Gatwick service but maintains flights to the airport from Split. It is estimated the Croatian carrier will earn 25 to 30 million pounds for its slots at Europe’s busiest airport. In February the airline reported its London route was struggling to make a profit, warning that flights to Heathrow would be under review for the 2014 summer season. Further slots are to be sold at several other European airports.