|CSEBA hopes to link Croatia with China|
The Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA) has confirmed to EX-YU Aviation News it is entering final talks with its business partners for the initial launch of charter flights between Croatia and China. According to earlier plans outlined by the Business Association, charter flights should link Zagreb with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing before scheduled services are launched during the summer of 2015. Within the next few weeks talks will be finalised in Zagreb between CSEBA and its Chinese backers, the Association says, after which it will announce its plans, most likely by the end of the month. The charter flights would cater primarily for Chinese tourists. Far off markets hold huge potential for Croatia's tourism industry as the number of Chinese travellers visiting the country has seen double digit growth over the past few years.
Earlier this summer, the Business Association revealed that charter flights between Croatia and China will operate until June 2015 in cooperation with Chinese carriers, after which CSEBA plans to launch its own airline and run scheduled flights between Croatia, China and Serbia, as well as countries in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan. It added, “CSEBA and its partners plan to establish an airline with regular flights between China and countries in the region, as well as regional flights in South East Europe at low cost prices”. However, Xu Qiang, Director General of the Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission has said, “Setting up an airline demands big finances. CSEBA and its partners should link up with other Chinese companies”.
Most passengers travelling from Zagreb to the Far East do so with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, transiting through their respective hubs. The last time a city in the former Yugoslavia offered scheduled services to China was in 2000 when JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated flights from Belgrade to Beijing. Furthermore, CSEBA recently held a series of meetings with key Kazakh state company representatives and also met with SCAT Airlines officials to discuss the potential launch of regular flights between Zagreb and Astana. This is despite the fact that SCAT Airlines is currently banned from operating in European airspace, as is the case with all other airlines certified by authorities with responsibility for regulatory oversight in Kazakhstan, with the exception to flag carrier Air Astana.