|Croatia Airlines prepares for fleet renewal, more flights and fresh capital|
Croatia Airlines is planning for a busy 2016, as it comes out of a four year restructuring process, which has seen the carrier return to profitability but also limit its opportunities for growth. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, the airline is up-beat on its future prospects with an expansion of both its network and fleet planned. "The measures of strategic, financial and operational restructuring have been successfully implemented in this last year, with the aim of further increasing the company's competitiveness in the European and global aviation market. At the same time, conditions for profitable and sustainable operations in the future are being created". The airline adds, "Following the completion of the restructuring program, we will be able to freely modify our schedule, with an increase in the number of operations compared to now. To this end, we also plan to redesign the existing fleet, which includes, first and foremost, the introduction of an aircraft to our fleet with a capacity to seat 100 passengers".
The Croatian government is currently in the process of privatising its national carrier. The airline sees this as an opportunity to expand in 2016 as a result of fresh capital and expects for the process to be finalised soon. "As is already known, the government of the Republic of Croatia has launched a recapitalisation process of Croatia Airlines and expects to select a strategic partner in the near future, which would allow the company to perform faster in terms of fleet renewal and expansion of all transport networks", the airline explains.
Croatia Airlines is satisfied with its performance during the current summer season. "Given this year's traffic effects, as well as positive financial indicators, we are satisfied with the continuation of the positive trends that have been recorded for a third year in a row. During the January - August period, Croatia Airlines carried 1% more passengers than in the same period in 2014". The airline expects to see a 3% passenger increase by the end of the year, compared to last. "It is worth mentioning that, as part of the restructuring program, in the spring of 2013, the company had to ground an aircraft (an Airbus A320), and, as a result, has been operating with reduced capacity for a third season", the carrier says. This summer, more than a third of all tourists visiting the country flew with Croatia Airlines. In terms of turnover and revenue, the carrier has positioned itself as the fourth largest exporter in the country.
With just over a month left until the start of the 2015/16 winter season, the last under its restructuring process, the airline says it will respond adequately to demand and adjust its network to match current passenger needs. "Croatia Airlines operates within a highly seasonal market due to the fact that the majority of the demand is tourism related. During the summer, there are 75% more flights compared to the winter schedule", the carrier says. It adds, "During the winter period, when there is less air traffic, maintenance is carried out on all aircraft in order to sustain fleet reliability during peak season".
Asked to comment on how it is dealing with increased competition, both from further abroad but also closer to home, Croatia Airlines told EX-YU Aviation News, "Croatia Airlines has been operating under competitive conditions within a strong market since 2005, when the liberalisation of the Croatian aviation market and its opening to EU carriers, particularly to low cost airlines, began. This season, we competed with almost 100 foreign airlines. A average cabin occupancy rate of almost 70%, in combination with our affordable market prices, are key to the company’s profitable operations, and at the same time, a sign that the market recognises the quality of the existing model of such a network carrier, which Croatia Airlines has been developing in collaboration with members of Star Alliance and other partners". It concludes, "It is worth noting that throughout the year, Croatia Airlines connects Croatia to both European destinations, as well as to destinations throughout the entire world, unlike most foreign airlines that fly to Croatia only during the tourist season".