|Air Croatia to Rome and Prague from mid-December|
Start-up Air Croatia will inaugurate services on December 18 from Zagreb to Rome Fiumicino and Prague. The company will wet-lease an Estonian Air Embraer E170 jet which has the capacity to seat 76 passengers. Services to both the Italian and Czech capitals will operate five times per week, from Monday to Friday, and carry Estonian Air flight numbers. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, Air Croatia said, “We will have a codeshare with Alitalia and ČSA Czech Airlines and will be able to feed their respective hubs from Zagreb and vice versa”. Earlier this week, the start-up began ticket sales through its website with one way fares averaging 99 euros.
Besides Rome and Prague, Air Croatia also plans to launch flights to Milan and Dusseldorf in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, in an earlier statement, the company confirmed it would also run services to Bucharest, Helsinki, Stockholm and Belgrade starting next Easter. Notably, the company aims to link the Croatian capital with unserved markets which hold great potential, while at the same time avoiding direct competition from rivals. 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 nonstop 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.
Air Croatia originally planned to launch flights from Gothenburg to Zagreb, Zadar and Split this June with a wet-leased Czech Airlines Airbus A319. At the time, the start-up told EX-YU Aviation News that “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, the start-up is now prepared to launch flights in just over a month’s time.
Flight information for Air Croatia's service to Rome can be found here, while additional details for flights to Prague can be viewed here.