Dubrovnik Airport and Ryanair are close to reaching a deal concerning the low cost airline's future operations from the city. Following talks with local authorities, the airport and Tourist Board, the budget carrier has requested for Dubrovnik Airport to reduce its fees and sign a multi-year agreement prior to it starting operations. Ryanair's Route Development Manager, Luis Fernandez-Mellado, said the budget carrier is willing to maintain year-round flights from Dubrovnik, describing it as an extremely interesting destination. He added there is already strong demand for the airline to introduce services to the coastal city, which would prove an excellent city-break option during the winter months. Mr Fernandez-Mellado also hinted at the possibility of Ryanair operating domestic flights within Croatia, noting that it runs a number of domestic services within European Union-member states.
Following talks with the airline, the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahušić, said the city is prepared to sign an agreement with Ryanair which would be applicable until 2024. Furthermore, the two sides will continue negotiating over the coming weeks, while a draft contract will be presented next month. In addition, the Tourist Board and local hoteliers will propose a number of desired destinations for the airline. Ryanair has so far avoided Dubrovnik due to high fees, allowing its competitors, most notably easyJet, greater access to the market.
Ryanair operates flights to a handful of cities in Croatia, including Osijek, Pula, Rijeka and Zadar, albeit on a seasonal summer basis only. The no frills carrier has selected Zadar as its seasonal base in the country, while Osijek is likely to become its first year-round destination. During the peak summer months, Ryanair will offer 10.584 seats per week from Croatia, making it the country's fifth busiest carrier in terms of capacity. One of the its main rivals, easyJet, has been successful in Dubrovnik, maintaining its position as the second busiest carrier operating out of the city in 2015, behind only Croatia Airlines. It handled 189.328 passengers on its services to and from the coastal city last year. Meanwhile, Dubrovnik Airport has seen a strong start to 2016, handling 387.898 travellers over the past five months, up 13.2% on the same period last year.