|New York - Zagreb flights most desired|
The CEO and founder of TAV Airports Holding and TAV Construction, Sani Sener, believes flights from the Croatian capital to New York would currently be most desirable. TAV has a 15% stake in the joint venture running Zagreb Airport and also operates Macedonia's two international airports. Commenting on its operations, Mr Sener said, "The most desired route from Zagreb would be New York. Our partnership with Aéroports de Paris [which has a 38% stake in TAV], as we expected, has started bearing many fruits. The first and foremost of these is of course the addition of Zagreb Airport to our portfolio. This concession gives us another strong foothold in emerging Europe. On the other hand, Skopje is already a successful Wizz Air base, but we think there is considerable opportunity for more low cost operators".
Zagreb Airport attempted to initiate flights to the Big Apple four years ago, prior to the concession. The then Managing Director, Tonči Peović, held talks with North American Airlines over a potential two weekly service from JFK Airport to the Croatian capital starting May 2011. Mr Peović intended to waive landing and handling fees for North American over a five year period and for the flights to operate with a Boeing 757 or Boeing 767-300 aircraft. The aim of the service was to turn Zagreb into a regional transit hub, but talks between the two sides collapsed and the flights never materialised. Mr Peović noted that an average cabin load factor of 65% would have made the service profitable. North American Airlines has since ceased operations.
Earlier this year, the Ambassador of the United States to Croatia, Kenneth Merten, said his country is working towards establishing flights to Croatia, adding that the foundations for such services are currently being put in place. The last time Croatia had scheduled flights to the United States was during the summer of 1991, when Pan Am maintained four weekly nonstop roundtrips from New York to Zagreb with its Airbus A310 aircraft. Prior to that, JAT Yugoslav Airlines maintained services from Zagreb to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Croatia recorded 255.592 visitors from the United States last year, 42.005 of which stayed in Zagreb. There are currently no flights between the former Yugoslavia and the United States, although Air Serbia plans to launch services from Belgrade to New York next June. Croatia Airlines' CEO, Kreišimir Kučko, previously said his airline aims to begin long haul flights sometime in the future. "The dream is to one day add long haul flights to our network. That’s a long way off at the moment but it’s good to have something to aim for and we are building our airline to make it possible”, Mr Kučko said.