“Partner over price” for Croatia Airlines
Last Thursday the Croatian government initiated the sale of its national carrier with high expectations for its future. It will keep a 50.25% stake, allowing the potential new partner to be outside of the European Union. The government expects for the new owner to pump in much needed capital into Croatia Airlines, which would operate with a fleet of up to twenty aircraft. The Minister for Sea Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić says, “A fair offer would include creating a regional hub, fresh capital and new planes to refurbish Croatia Airlines, whose routes are limited to European cities with code sharing agreements to four US destinations”. He adds, “As many as four international companies have expressed interest, including Garuda Indonesia”.
However, Mr. Hajdaš Dončić says the government will choose the carrier’s future part owner based on quality and merit rather than the price offered. “We want a process which favours bringing in a stable strategic partner rather than the price offered. We are willing to look into all the possible models. The priority is that the money will not go into the budget but be invested into the company”.
A state agency will determine the value of the company in the next four months. The government has previously stated Croatia Airlines is estimated to be worth 45.9 million euros. The privatisation process will be carried out through two separate tenders. If all goes to plan, an agreement with a potential strategic partner is expected to be finalised mid next year. On the other hand, the government also has a “Plan B” should the privatisation process fail and includes selling the company little by little. “In its present state Croatia Airlines can’t function past 2015”, Mr. Hajdaš Dončić concludes.