Long distance flights a possibility for Croatia Airlines
Croatia Airlines CEO, Krešimir Kučko, says it is his long term vision for the national carrier to launch long haul flights. Speaking to the “Ascend” aviation publication, Mr. Kučko said, “In the future, it is my desire to include intercontinental flights in our network. I would like to see the long haul model move from the dream phase to the planning phase, and then to the implementation phase. At the moment, however, we are focused on the development of our network of European destinations”. Mr. Kučko believes the focus of the airline must be on the European market and positioning the Croatian carrier within the European Union in the coming years. “We believe new business opportunities will become available after Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Additionally, we will strengthen and develop our network airline business model and contribute even more to the quality of Croatian and European air transport”, Mr. Kučko said.
Croatia Airlines has never attempted to operate long haul flights and such plans are still largely on the drawing board. Working in Croatia Airlines’ favour are not only existing business and diaspora links, which would generate traffic on long haul flights, but also a strong tourism industry which could attract potential travellers. Currently, no carrier from the former Yugoslavia has the capacity or means to operate transatlantic services, however, talk of going long haul has been on the rise. Recently, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said Air Serbia would be ready to launch long distance flights within the next two to four years.
Mr. Kučko admits Croatia Airlines will have to undergo radical changes if his dreams of long haul flights are to become reality. “Croatia Airlines is undergoing a company restructuring process to consolidate operations and maintain its competitiveness in the market. One of the main objectives of the restructuring is to increase capital as well as refinance company debt and improve business operations. To continue successful operations, the airline must make significant changes to its current business model, which means repositioning in terms of strategy and market three fundamental profit centres: network, seasonal and charter flights as well as airplane maintenance for third parties”, he concludes.