Etihad Regional suspends ticket sales for Rome - Zagreb service
Etihad Regional, which was to launch flights from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Zagreb Airport on March 30, has suspended ticket sales for the route. Flights were to operate four times per week, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with Etihad Regional being the only airline offering a nonstop service between the Italian and Croatian capitals. The route was to operate with the fifty seat Saab 2000 aircraft. The news will be welcomed by Croatia Airlines which flies from Zagreb to Rome via either Dubrovnik or Split. There has been no official explanation for the service cancellation, although the route could be vacated for Alitalia, which is likely to be acquired by Etihad Airways.
Despite the Zagreb cancellation, the regional Swiss airline will launch flights from Geneva to Belgrade on May Day as originally planned. Services will operate three times per week with strong competition from both Swiss International Air Lines and easyJet on the route. Etihad Regional was launched in January after the Abu Dhabi based Etihad acquired a 33% stake in the regional Swiss carrier Darwin Airline. By mid 2014, Etihad Regional will add twenty new routes and seventeen new destinations. Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways, Air Berlin and Air Serbia will codeshare on Regional’s routes, while the Swiss airline will codeshare on Etihad Airways, Air Berlin and Air Serbia flights from a range of European cities. This is expected to provide deeper access to Europe for the three larger carriers and significant new international connectivity and feeder traffic for Etihad Regional.
Zagreb Airport’s new management plans to make its presence felt by attracting a range of new airlines this year. However, currently, only KLM Cityhopper, which will launch flights from Amsterdam, and Germanwings, which will operate services from Hamburg, have confirmed new services to the Croatian capital. In addition, Trade Air will operate a domestic commuter service via Zagreb during the summer. Earlier last month, the airport said it was close to finalising an agreement with ČSA Czech Airlines for the launch of flights from Prague. In addition, the airport said it was in talks for transatlantic flights to be launched from Canada in 2015. Zagreb Airport estimates it will see passenger numbers increase by 8% this year. In January, the airport recorded a 2.6% decline in figures.