|Croatia Airlines to add 100-seat aircraft, type still being negotiated|
Croatia Airlines has confirmed it will wet lease regional 100-seat aircraft but says a final decision on the type is yet to be made. This is despite an Embraer E195 jet being tentatively scheduled on select routes on select days from Zagreb, to destinations such as Brussels, Copenhagen and Split, starting May 20. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the carrier said, "Negotiations regarding the completion of the process of introducing 100-seat aircraft in Croatia Airlines’ fleet, according to the wet lease principle, are still in progress". It adds, "Given that the negotiations are conducted with several potential business partners, the final decision on the type of aircraft has not been made yet". A 100-seat aircraft would be best suited for the airline as it can operate with greater cost efficiency during the slow winter months and open up new markets during the summer.
Through a wet lease arrangement, the lessor provides an aircraft, crew and maintenance to the lessee. Croatia Airlines has never operated Embraer jets in its almost 27-year history and would make it the third aircraft type in its fleet, alongside Airbus and Bombardier. Last summer the carrier concluded short-term wet leases of Montenegro Airlines’ E190 jets in order to ease its fleet shortage problems, since several of its aircraft were undergoing maintenance. However, it is believed the arrangement was also made in order for the airline to study the aircraft’s performance. Montenegro Airlines is the former Yugoslavia’s only Embraer operator, with both the E190 and E195 versions in its fleet. A wet lease usually lasts between 1 to 24 months.
Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, previously said he is in favour of the Brazilian manufactured aircraft. “If Croatia Airlines was to buy more aircraft today it would choose an Embraer model”, he said. In its response to EX-YU Aviation News the carrier did not specify whether it will lease one or more regional aircraft, however, last year, Mr Kučko noted the airline plans to operate two 100-seat jets in 2016 with an additional two to four to join in the coming years. The addition of new aircraft will be followed by the introduction of new destinations. This May, the carrier plans to launch flights from Zagreb to Milan and a seasonal service from Pula to Zurich in July. Additional new routes from the Croatian capital are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Croatia Airlines currently counts twelve aircraft in its fleet - six Bombardier Dash 8s, four Airbus A319s and two A320s. It has a further four A320neos on order, for delivery from 2021.