Croatia Airlines will wet lease a Fokker 100 aircraft from its Zagreb-based counterpart Trade Air, as it looks to boost its regional fleet this summer. According to "Airline Route", the 109-seat F100 aircraft is scheduled to operate on several of Croatia Airlines' routes, including its newly planned service to Lisbon from May 20. Furthermore, the carrier will utilise the jet on flights from Zagreb to Brussels, four times per week starting May 20, Zagreb to Copenhagen, three times per week from May 21, Zagreb to Barcelona, once per week commencing May 26 and on services from Zagreb to Athens via Dubrovnik effective June 13. Further changes, and the lease of additional aircraft, are possible. The lease will allow Croatia Airlines to assign its Bombardier Dash 8 regional turboprops onto new services from Zagreb to Prague and Milan, as well as new seasonal flights from Pula to Zurich.
Croatia Airlines itself is yet to officially announce the wet lease, but has previously 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". Last week, the carrier told EX-YU Aviation News it would publicise its fleet changes by the start of the 2016 summer season, which begins on March 27. Initially, the airline scheduled to operate the Embraer E195 jet on a number of routes, however, these have now been removed from the system. Last week, the German "Skyliner Magazine" noted that two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, formally operated by the now defunct Estonian Air, are in East Midlands where they are being painted in the Croatia Airlines colour scheme. However, the two 84-seat aircraft have now returned to Tallinn in an all-white livery.
Through a wet lease arrangement, the lessor provides an aircraft, crew and maintenance to the lessee. Trade Air has two F100 jets in its fleet and has operated a number of flights on behalf of Croatia Airlines in the past, mostly during the busy summer season when the Croatian carrier is need of additional aircraft. Trade Air will take delivery of an Airbus A320 next month. Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, previously said he is in favour of adding Embraer jets to the carrier's fleet. “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, Croatia Airlines did not specify whether it will lease one or more regional aircraft, however, last year, Mr Kučko noted the carrier plans to operate two 100-seat jets in 2016 with an additional two to four to join in the coming years.