|Croatia Airlines to add up to six aircraft over the next four years|
Croatia Airlines will lease two Embraer E190 aircraft next year and is considering opening bases outside of its home country. According to the daily “Večernji list”, the carrier plans to expand its fleet with four to six jets over the next four years. The plans are in line with earlier statements made by the airline’s CEO, Krešimir Kučko, who has spoken of the need to add 100-seat jets to the carrier’s fleet. “If Croatia Airlines was to buy more aircraft today it would choose an Embraer model”, Mr. Kučko said recently. A 100-seat aircraft would be best suited for the airline as it could operate with greater cost efficiency during the slow winter months and open up new markets during the summer.
Croatia Airlines has never operated Embraer jets in its 26-year history and would make it the third aircraft type in its fleet, alongside Airbus and Bombardier. Over the past several weeks, the carrier has concluded short-term leases of Montenegro Airlines’ E190 jet in order to ease its fleet shortage problems, as several of its aircraft are undergoing maintenance. However, the lease has also been arranged in order for the airline to study the aircraft’s performance ahead of the lease. The E190 can seat 94 passengers in a two-class configuration. Montenegro Airlines is the former Yugoslavia’s only Embraer operator, with both the E190 and E195 versions in its fleet. With the addition of the two aircraft, the airline is also contemplating opening bases outside of Croatia, with Sarajevo considered as a front-runner.
According to “Večernji list”, Croatia Airlines is also expected to enter talks with Mitsubishi over the possible purchase of the Japanese manufacturer’s new twin-engine regional jet, the MRJ90, which has the capacity to seat ninety passengers. The cost-efficient aircraft is expected to perform its maiden flight this year, with deliveries to follow in 2017. There are currently over 200 orders for the jet. The MRJ90 is being considered by Croatia Airlines as a replacement for its six Dash 8 Q400s.
The Croatian carrier currently counts twelve aircraft in its fleet - six Bombardier Dash 8s, four A319s and two A320s. Furthermore, it has an order for a further four A319s. 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, their arrival has been postponed due to the airline’s financial situation. “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 said last month. The addition of new aircraft will be followed by the introduction of new destinations. The airline plans to put a greater emphasis on the Eastern European market following the completion of its restructuring program at the end of this year, which has limited its opportunities for network growth over the past four years.