|Zagreb to get Sofia link this summer|
A new Croatian start-up, Dalmatian, which has been in the works for several years, has announced plans to launch seasonal flights between Zagreb and Sofia this summer. The low cost airline plans to operate flights three times per week, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Hristiyan Petkov, Sofia Airport’s Head of Marketing said in a statement. As EX-YU Aviation News learns, services will be inaugurated on June 3 and run until July 31. The airline will lease an aircraft from Denmark’s North Flying and will likely utilise its air operator’s certificate (AOC), allowing Dalmatian to inaugurate flights more easily and bypass additional bureaucratic procedures in Croatia.
There are currently no direct flights between the Croatian and Bulgarian capitals. In late 2011, the then CEO of Croatia Airlines, Srećko Šimunović, announced plans for the carrier to launch flights to Sofia and St. Petersburg to balance out its mainly western European network. The new routes were planned to be launched this year. However, since then, the carrier has given up on its plans to expand and has downsized its network instead. On the other hand, it must be noted that Croatia Airlines’ Sofia launch was tied to the arrival of four Airbus A319 aircraft it ordered in 2008. The arrival of these jets has been put on hold until further notice.
Dalmatian has previously been granted permits to operate four weekly flights between Zagreb and Hamburg, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday starting June 2. In addition, the airline says it has secured a range of contracts to operate charter flights this summer season. Dalmatian will operate as a hybrid low cost carrier and was “founded to pursue the growth opportunities in emerging markets of short and long distance air travel”. With Croatia’s entry into the European Union last summer, a flurry of new airlines have announced plans to open up bases across the country to capitalise on its booming tourism industry. Air Croatia, Libertas Air and Adriatic Skyways have all announced their intention of launching flights from the country.