|Sea Air delays launch until August and leases Tupolev cargo jet|
Croatian start-up Sea Air, which was to inaugurate services tomorrow, has delayed its launch for a fourth time. The Osijek-based airline was initially meant to start operations to Germany on May 18. It then pushed back its launch to June 29, followed by July 19 and now says it will begin flights on August 9. In a statement, Sea Air said it understands the impact the delays are having on potential passengers. “We are aware that, after changing our launch date on several occasions, we have lost the trust of many passengers and that the public is highly sceptical of our flights”, Sea Air said. It added, “We are asking our passengers for their understanding and patience. Sea Air is a new company. We could not foresee some of the difficulties that we have faced, which came as an unwelcome surprise to us, while some were beyond our control”.
Passengers who have booked tickets with the newly established airline will be offered alternative transport. Sea Air initially delayed its May launch after it encountered problems with processing credit card payments. Subsequently, the airline faced issues with leasing its aircraft. It plans to operate flights from Osijek to Munich and Stuttgart three times per week, while services to Frankfurt will run four times per week. The airline has previously said it would operate a Boeing 737-500 aircraft, however, the Managing Director of Osijek Airport, Domagoj Marinić, said earlier this month that a Saab 340 would be initially utilised before demand picked up and the carrier shifted to the larger Boeing aircraft.
Meanwhile, Sea Air has begun operating cargo flights with a leased Russian-built Tupolev Tu-204-120C aircraft from Egypt’s Cairo Aviation. The jet has the capacity to carry 26 tonnes of cargo and is being chartered on flights from Osijek to the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans. “We have chosen this aircraft because it is cost-efficient and beats other jets in its class. We believe the Tu-204 has no competition among aircraft with its carrying capacity”, Sea Air said. Start-up airlines across the former Yugoslavia have had difficulties in launching operations and almost all have failed. Only this year, Air Croatia, which began services from Zagreb in April, suspended services shortly after. Despite plans to resume flights on June 18, it has not done so. Common to all of the start-ups is the use of foreign Air Operators Certificates (AOC).