Croatia Airlines expects to see its passenger numbers grow by 6% in 2016 and for it to record a fourth consecutive year in profit. The Croatian carrier anticipates handling some 1.97 million travellers by years-end, which will be accompanied by an increase in the number of operated flights. If it fulfils its expectations, 2016 will mark Croatia Airlines' busiest year on record, eclipsing its 2012 record when it carried 1.95 million passengers. Last year it handled 1.85 million travellers, a modest 1% increase on 2014, while its number of operated flights decreased slightly. The figure is still below that registered in 2008, 2011 and its record year of 2012. It's average cabin load factor stood at 69.7%, making it its best occupancy rate to date.
The Croatian carrier will introduce several new routes this summer season, among which are services from Zagreb to Lisbon, Milan, Prague and St. Petersburg. It will also wet-lease a Fokker 100 aircraft from Trade Air in order to launch the new flights. It marks the airline's first major expansion in three years following a restructuring initiative, which has limited its opportunities for network growth. "The expansion of the European network of destinations has been enabled by the successful completion of Croatia Airlines' restructuring program in 2015, which concluded the company's obligation to operate with a reduced market capacity. This way, the company will be even stronger in contributing to the development of Croatia's tourism potential and the Croatian economy, and further strengthen its position as a regional leader", the airline says. It also plans to introduce new services from Dubrovnik this winter, which will further boost numbers during the slow months.
Meanwhile, the Croatian State Property Management Office (DUUDI) says it will soon launch procedures to select a new management team at Croatia Airlines. According to DUUDI, it will commission an executive search firm to help identify high performance individuals fit to run the company. This process is expected to start in mid-May, although no firm timeframe has been given for its completion. Croatia Airlines named Krešimir Kučko as its CEO in the summer of 2012. He previously served as the carrier's representative for the Benelux region, based in Brussels. Prior to that, he was airline’s representative in Switzerland and the Netherlands.