|Croatia Airlines does not rule out Heathrow slot sale|
Croatia Airlines has not ruled out the possibility of selling some of its lucrative take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport as part of its restructuring process, aimed at boosting profits and preparing the company for long-term sustainable business operations. Addressing growing rumours that the carrier is considering the move, the airline told EX-YU Aviation News, "At this moment we can only confirm that the sale of slots at London Heathrow is one of the possible self-contribution measures, which are an integral part of Croatia Airlines’ restructuring program". The carrier is maintaining nine weekly flights from Zagreb to Europe's busiest airport this winter season, while the route operated eight times per week during the summer months. In addition, it ran a one weekly service to Heathrow from both Split and Rijeka over the summer. In 2013 the carrier suspended flights from Zagreb to London's Gatwick Airport.
Croatia Airlines is in the final stages of its restructuring program, which will be completed at the end of 2015, with two additional years for assessment once the restructuring is finalised (2016 and 2017). The compensation and self-contribution measures are in line with European Union competition, restructuring and state aid rules. In 2013 the airline outlined plans to sell its Heathrow slots, which, at the time, the carrier believed could fetch between 25 and 30 million pounds. That year the airline also revealed its flights to London were struggling to make a profit, after which its Zagreb - Gatwick service was suspended.
Heathrow Airport, as one of the most congested in the world, operates at maximum capacity for most of the day. This has placed a big premium on the value of slots. Recently, SAS Scandinavian Airlines completed a slot transaction with its Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines for the 2015/16 winter season. SAS sold a pair of its London slots for 22 million USD. Croatia Airlines has departure slots at Heathrow Airport at 10.50 and 16.50 this winter, as well as landing slots at 10.05 and 16.05. It utilises additional afternoon and evening slots over the summer months. During the first half of the year, Croatia Airlines handled some 50.000 passengers to and from the United Kingdom, an improvement of 4% compared to the same period in 2014.