Croatia Airlines’ monopoly on domestic flights comes to an end
Croatia Airlines will face competition on domestic flights for the first time as the country’s charter airline, Trade Air, announces the launch of scheduled flights. Trade Air will soon launch services from Osijek to Zagreb and flights between Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik. The news comes after Trade Air was selected by the Croatian government to operate the routes. The airline, which boasts a fleet of three Fokker 100s, plans to lease a thirty seat Embraer E120 as well. Trade Air has been issued a license to operate the flights over the next three years and has been granted 5.6 million euros worth of subsidies by the Croatian government.
“Scheduled flights represent a new segment of business and a strategic shift for Trade Air. We are now waiting for all bureaucratic procedures to be completed before launching services”, a statement from the airline reads. Trade Air will initially sell its tickets via Croatia Airlines and its offices not only in the country but throughout Europe as well. The airline says it will use most of the subsidies to cover the Osijek - Zagreb service. Furthermore, it plans to hire more crew as it expands its operations. The airline currently employs 51 people.
Trade Air’s arrival will be most welcomed by Osijek Airport which has, without success, been lobbying for flights to Croatia’s capital for almost a year. Croatia Airlines refused to operate the service earlier in 2013 stating it was unprofitable. The Croatian national carrier won’t see direct competition on any of its domestic flights as it does not cover the services to be operated by Trade Air. The charter airline believes business will pick up to pre-crisis levels as a result of the new scheduled domestic flights.