|Air Croatia to launch Zagreb flights|
Start-up Air Croatia will make a second attempt at launching services this year, with flights planned to begin during the Christmas holidays. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, Air Croatia says it intends to launch flights from Zagreb to Rome Fiumicino Airport, Milan Malpensa, Prague and Dusseldorf “starting from Christmas”. Services to Bucharest, Helsinki, Stockholm and Belgrade “are aimed to start during Easter 2015”, it added. Notably, Air Croatia aims to link Zagreb with unserved markets which hold great potential, while at the same time avoiding direct competition with its rivals.
Air Croatia originally planed to launch flights from Gothenburg to Zagreb, Zadar and Split this June with a wet leased ČSA Czech Airlines Airbus A319. At the time, the start-up told EX-YU Aviation News, “Those flights have been postponed since May due to a low amount of bookings and some technical problems connecting our booking system and flights to many of the major search engines, which made it too risky and difficult to sell only through our website”. Air Croatia also hoped to set up flights from Zagreb to Tel Aviv from June through to September, as well as services from Southern Italy to Dubrovnik in cooperation with Italian tour operators. However, all of these have been put on hold.
Most of the newly announced services, which Air Croatia aims to launch at Christmas time, were served from Zagreb at one point or another. The Italian national carrier Alitalia operated up to two daily flights to Zagreb prior to its financial problems in late 2008. Since, there have been no direct flights between Zagreb and Italy with Croatia Airlines maintaining services to Rome via Dubrovnik and Split. Furthermore, ČSA suspended flights from Prague to Zagreb in 2012 after relegating the route to its regional partner Central Connect Airlines (CCA). Shortly after, CCA declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations. There have been no direct flights between the Croatian and Czech capitals since. Despite a substantial number of flights between Zagreb and Germany, there is no direct link between the Croatian capital and Dusseldorf. According to Air Croatia's website, the start-up will reveal more information on its future destination network next Monday.