Croatia Airlines plans to expand its operations with the addition of four to six aircraft and the opening of new bases across the former Yugoslavia as early as 2017. The carrier's CEO, Krešimir Kučko, says Croatia Airlines will, as a result, become a true regional leader. "The plan is to maintain our strong position in the region through the opening of new bases, for which we need to acquire new aircraft. We are currently negotiating and are in the process of wide-scale planning", Mr Kučko says. The carrier intends to open bases in Sarajevo, Skopje and Pristina, as well as Tirana. "We will link these cities primarily to points in the European Union. A base in Belgrade is not an option for us. Wherever a national carrier is present, our plans would be difficult to fulfil", Mr Kučko adds.
According to Croatia Airlines' CEO, the carrier has already crunched the numbers for its planned regional expansion and decided on its route network. "Everything should be defined by the end of the year and implemented from April 1, 2017", Mr Kučko notes. He adds, "The pace at which each base will be launched will depend on the arrival of new aircraft. Depending on the demand, we would use 100-seaters, Airbuses and Dash planes". Concerning the purchase of new jets, the CEO notes the airline will have a "clear picture" by the end of the year. "We have been in talks with plane manufacturers for two years now. In June we could provide our owner with a proposal", he says.
|Croatia Airlines' planned new bases|
The opening of new bases should ease Croatia Airlines' dependence on its highly seasonal home market. "During the third quarter we achieve strong results which cover the negative effects of the first and fourth quarters to such extent that we achieve profitability at the end of the year, as was the case the previous three years. Winter is a constant problem and the two types of aircraft we currently operate do not fully meet market demands", Mr Kučko says. He concludes, "The acquisition of aircraft with the capacity to seat 100 passengers is the only possible solution on which we could build a sustainable long-term business model".
CROATIA AIRLINES PASSENGER NUMBERS AT PLANNED BASES (2015)