Canada's Air Transat will introduce flights from Toronto to Zagreb tomorrow, marking the resumption of transatlantic services from the Croatian capital. The airline marked the upcoming launch with a cruise on Lake Ontario where the airline's Business Development Representative, Susan Kooiman, said the route is being targeted at leisure travellers. "Consumers said they wanted something different. So we’re delivering something different. We wanted to make sure it [Zagreb] doesn’t become an air-only destination. It’s a gorgeous country and there’s so much to explore and so much to do". The carrier's leisure division is offering both seven and fourteen-night travel packages to various cities across Croatia in order to ensure the route's success. Furthermore, it has concluded deals with eighteen hotels in the country.
Air Transat will operate the service once per week until October 4. Although the carrier says it currently has no plans to extend the flights throughout the winter, the Canadian Ambassador to Croatia, Daniel Maksymiuk, notes there is potential for the service to continue past the peak travel period and for frequencies to be increased. It will be the second year in a row that Zagreb has been linked to Toronto. During the summer of 2015, SkyGreece Airlines launched flights from Canada's largest city to the Croatian capital. However, the service was cut short as a result of the airline's bankruptcy.
|Air Transat A330-300 economy class cabin|
Since launching sales last September, Air Transat has seen strong demand for the service. "There is a high level of interest and booking numbers are very good. There is a big Croatian community in Toronto and we can feel the interest from Croatian travellers from both sides (Europe and Canada)", Debbie Cabana, Air Transat's Marketing Director, said. The airline recently upgraded its equipment on the route from an Airbus A330-200 to the slightly larger -300 series. The 375-seat jet features a two cabin layout, with twelve seats in business class (Club Class) and a further 363 in economy featuring personal entertainment systems with a selection of movies, TV programs and music, as well as in-built USB ports.
Air Transat faces no direct competition on the route. Last year, Star Alliance partners Croatia Airlines and Air Canada expanded their codeshare partnership, offering travellers better connections between their respective countries. The Croatian carrier placed its flight numbers and designator code onto a handful of Air Canada services including those from Toronto to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London Heathrow, Paris and Zurich; from Montreal to Brussels, London Heathrow and Paris, as well as from Calgary, Halifax and Vancouver to London (and vice versa). In return, Air Canada placed its “AC” designator code and flight numbers onto Croatia Airlines’ services from Zagreb to Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, London Heathrow, Paris and Zurich. Furthermore, Air Canada codes appear on the Croatian carrier’s flights from Dubrovnik to Paris and Rome and from Split to London, Paris, Rome and Zurich.
Air Transat will commence services to Zagreb tomorrow night (local time), with the arrival scheduled at 11.00 CEST on Wednesday. The aircraft will then turn around in just under two hours and land in Toronto at 17.15 that same day. The carrier offers connecting flight to and from Montreal. “We are proud to be the only North American airline offering a direct flight to Croatia, and are committed to enhancing our destination lineup each year with attractive new options that set us apart”, Annick Guérard, President and General Manager of Transat Tours Canada, noted.