Foul play suggested ahead of Croatia Airlines’ privatisation
Croatian parliamentary speakers from different ends of the political spectrum voiced their concern yesterday that the recent scrutiny of Croatia Airlines’ safety record following last Friday’s emergency landing at Zurich Airport is an orchestrated attack on the airline prior to its privatisation. Croatian media is still rife with speculation whether the airline’s Dash fleet is safe after Friday’s incident was followed by another two safety concerns, one occurring on Saturday and the other this Monday. Small scale safety incidents are common and widespread across the aviation industry and rarely get much media coverage as has been the case with Croatia Airlines in the past. However, several members of parliament (none of which belong to the governing coalition) say the media spotlight, with the support of the government, is an attempt to devalue the airline. “It seems all of this is supposed to justify the future results of the privatisation so it can be presented to us that we should be happy with what we get”, Ivan Šuker, Croatia’s former Finance Minister and member of the largest opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union, says.
Members of both the HDSSB and Labour Party also suggested foul play is at hand and criticised the government for appointing party members as part of Croatia Airlines’ management team. Later this month the first of two tender rounds for the privatisation of the Croatian national carrier is expected to take place. The first, where potential buyers will express their interest, and the second, expected in February 2014, where specific takeover offers will be made. Recently, the Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure said, “The price offered by a potential partner will not be paramount, rather, the focus will be on the quality of the strategic partner which could generate more traffic for Croatian airports”.
Meanwhile, Croatia Airlines has launched an investigation into last Friday’s emergency. The airline has been trying to save face after another one of its Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft, on route from Dubrovnik to Rome last Saturday, landed in Split due to an indication that one of its engines was experiencing problems. On Monday, passengers on board another Croatia Airlines Dash, which was to operate its return flight from Belgrade to Split, were asked to disembark the aircraft after problems with one of the engines was identified. Passengers were bussed to Zagreb, after which they were flown to Split.