Zagreb Airport looking to attract new airlines in six months time
The operator of Zagreb Airport will give its main customer, Croatia Airlines, six months to get its business in order before it begins talks with foreign carriers on launching new flights to the Croatian capital. The airport will place particular emphasis on attracting low cost airlines. The CEO of Zagreb Airport, Gonzalve de Cordoue, says the operator understands Croatia Airlines is in a delicate situation with its pending privatisation process. However, the airport wants to record passenger growth of 8% this year and, in order to do so, will have to attract new airlines.
An attempt to privatise Croatia Airlines late last year failed after zero interest was shown in the carrier by foreign airlines. However, the government will make a second attempt at selling the carrier this year. The privatisation process is poised to resume soon after Croatia Airlines publishes its 2013 financial report, which is expected to be positive and see the airline operating with a profit for the first time in six years. Even so, the privatisation process is set to last several months as a financial advisor must first be found before a tender call for the sale of 49% of the carrier is made.
While foreign carriers dominate at Croatia’s costal airports, Croatia Airlines maintains a passenger share of over 60% at Zagreb Airport. So far, Etihad Regional has announced it will launch flights from Rome to the Croatian capital this year, putting pressure on the national carrier which operates the route via Dubrovnik and Split. If Croatia Airlines does not find a strategic partner by the summer, it faces the prospect of further competition on key routes as Zagreb Airport looks for new airlines. Germanwings, easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle are currently the only low cost airlines operating scheduled year long flights into Zagreb. In 2010, Croatia Airlines threatened to suspend flights on services operated by low cost airlines if Zagreb Airport continued to make deals with foreign carriers. At the time, the Croatian Ministry of Transport said that airports in the country must be careful to strike a good balance between new carriers and Croatia Airlines.