Croatia Airlines is in the process of "extensive preparations" ahead of the planned opening of several bases in south-eastern Europe, primarily in the former Yugoslavia. The carrier has previously announced its intention to commence flights from Sarajevo, Pristina, Skopje and Tirana to several European destinations in 2017. "Market research data has shown that there is a potential for the successful opening of additional bases in the south-eastern European region and Croatia Airlines, as a European Union community carrier, has recognised its business interest in this", the airline told EX-YU Aviation News. It added, "The prerequisite for this is to purchase four to six new aircraft and extensive preparations are underway. Only after would it be possible to define all the details and possibly open additional bases".
Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, previously said that the company had 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 said. "The pace at which each base will be launched will depend on the arrival of new aircraft", he added. Concerning the purchase of new jets, the CEO noted the airline would have a "clear picture" by the end of the year. During the first half of 2016, Croatia Airlines saw its passenger numbers improve 2%, while its average cabin load factor increased 1.2%. "When it comes to financial indicators, they are definitely better than initially projected", the airline says.
In late May and early June, Croatia Airlines launched four new routes out of Zagreb, marking its first major expansion following several years of restructuring, which had limited its opportunities for growth. The carrier says it is satisfied with the development of its new services to Milan, Prague, Lisbon and St. Petersburg, which have contributed to an increase in the number of passengers. "Since the Croatian market is highly seasonal, and the leisure market is usually in decline as early as the second half of October, it is likely that flights to Milan, Prague, Lisbon and St. Petersburg will operate until the end of the 2016 summer season. Afterwards, analysis and evaluation of each route will be conducted. According to current indicators, it is expected that Croatia Airlines’ aircraft will again fly on these routes in 2017", the airline says.