Soon in Zagreb
KLM Cityhopper, part of the Air France - KLM group, will launch seasonal summer flights from Amsterdam to Zagreb this May. It marks the return of KLM to the Croatian capital after many years and the end to Croatia Airlines’ monopoly on the route, at least temporarily. KLM will inaugurate its flights to Zagreb on May 27, which will run until October 25. They will operate four times per week, every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with the 80-seat all economy Fokker 70 aircraft. Further flight details can be found here. Air France - KLM General Manager for Switzerland, Austria and the Balkans, Vincent Kas, says the airline is working on turning the new flights into a yearlong service. He added Zagreb will be the airline’s only new destination in South-eastern Europe this year. KLM is the second new airline to announce flights to Zagreb for 2014 following Etihad Regional which will launch services from Rome. In addition, Gemanwings will begin two weekly flights from Hamburg.
After Rome, Croatia Airlines will now also face competition on its Amsterdam route with this latest arrival. Last summer season, the Croatian carrier reduced its frequencies on services to the Dutch city from eight weekly to daily. However, the new flights will also see a battle of the alliances. Croatia Airline shuttles some of its USA bound passengers via Amsterdam with travellers continuing their trip with United Airlines. United codeshares on Croatia Airlines’ service between Zagreb and Amsterdam. On the other hand, KLM, a member of the Skyteam alliance, will also look to capture transit passengers though the airline says it wants to capitalise on the tourism potential of both countries.
Zagreb Airport’s new operator is looking to boost passenger numbers by 8% this year. In order to do so it will have to attract additional airlines. Late last year, Alitalia said it was considering introducing services from the Italian capital to Zagreb. Swiss International Air Lines and SAS Scandinavian are also believed to have expressed interest behind closed doors to launch flights to Zagreb. Zagreb Airport is said to have put pressure on Croatia Airlines by giving it six months to get its business into shape before it begins the hunt for new customers.