Libertas Air to launch flights next year
A new private airline hopes to launch flights from Dubrovnik next year, becoming Croatia Airlines’ sole competitor on the domestic market. Zoran Prpić, a former pilot and owner of tour operator Carpe Diem, hopes to set up Libertas Air with two leased Airbus A320s from April next year. “The investment is estimated to be worth three million euros with some fifty locals to be employed. The all economy Airbus aircraft will have the capacity to seat 180 passengers. There will be no business class section”, Mr. Prpić explains.
This winter, Croatia’s national carrier suspended almost all of its flights to and from Dubrovnik, maintaining only its Zagreb and Rome service. The move has been criticised by the airport and local authorities. The CEO of Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolić, recently said, “Dubrovnik is becoming more and more distant during the winter season after years of hard work on making the airport busy during the slow months. We have a great challenge ahead of us as we can no longer rely on our partner. We understand that Croatia Airlines must undergo restructuring but we will not sit with our hands crossed. We will look for partners elsewhere”. Libertas Air is looking to take Croatia Airlines’ place in Dubrovnik, which could see the national carrier lose its lucrative subsidies provided by the city.
Last week Mr. Prpić held talks with the mayor of Dubrovnik, with the city showing interest in the new airline. “Dubrovnik is ready to back this project by offering logistical support. We are looking for better connections between Dubrovnik and Zagreb. Such an airline could prove an excellent alternative to Croatia Airlines”, the city authorities said in a statement. Croatia Airlines currently has no competition on its domestic flights, which are often heavily subsidised. Charter airline Trade Air recently launched scheduled flights between Osijek and Zagreb, however, the service is operated in cooperation with Croatia Airlines.