|Croatia Airlines eyes 100-seater jets|
Croatia Airlines’ CEO, Krešimir Kučko, has announced plans to renew the carrier’s fleet with up to six jets. The addition of new aircraft, through an operating lease, could begin as early as this winter. Speaking in an interview to “Jutarnji list”, Mr. Kučko says, “Our aim is to renew our fleet as soon as possible. We have given this serious consideration and could begin renewing our fleet this winter, with the addition of 100-seat jets”. He adds, “It is part our medium-term strategy and its realization does not depend on a strategic partner. However, it will impact on the pace of the acquisition”. Operating leases are short-term aircraft leases, usually no longer than ten years, which allow airlines to add jets and capacity quickly in case of a planned expansion.
Croatia Airlines currently has four Airbus A319 aircraft on order. The 175-million euro deal with the European aircraft manufacturer was made in 2008. Although the new jets were originally to be delivered by the end of 2013, the order has been put on hold. The airline has put off the aircrafts' arrival due to its financial situation. Although some have suggested the order was politically motivated at the time, Croatia Airlines has denied such claims, saying the acquisition was a sound business decision. “We are in discussions with Airbus regarding our order and I am very pleased that they have recognised the situation our company is in, as well as our demands. We are counting on and want to continue our cooperation with them. However, the delivery of these aircraft currently depends on a range of factors”, Mr. Kučko says.
Croatia Airlines currently has twelve aircraft in its fleet - six Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s, four Airbus A319s and two A320s. “Within the next four years we will certainly add another four to six aircraft, which have the capacity to seat 100 passengers”, the CEO says. In comments made last year, Mr. Kučko hinted at the possibility of introducing Embraer jets to the carrier’s fleet. “If Croatia Airlines were to buy more aircraft today it would choose an Embraer model, but other manufacturers will be considered when the time comes. What we are missing now is 100-seaters”, he said. The Brazilian plane manufacturer has two aircraft types that would fit Croatia Airlines’ needs. The E190 jet can seat 94 passengers in a two-class configuration, while the E195 version can welcome 106 passengers on board with a business and economy class section. Montenegro Airlines is the former Yugoslavia’s only Embraer operator, with both the E190 and E195 versions in its fleet.