The CEO of Croatia Airlines, Krešimir Kučko, says foreign carriers have shown no real intention in acquiring a stake in the company, despite initial interest from Turkish Airlines. The comments come as the carrier's privatisation process enters its third year. "No one has given a firm offer. The state hired a consultant who was supposed to prepare the privatisation procedure. However, they only completed part of the job and tried to see what sort of interest there was on the market", Mr Kučko says. Last May, the Croatian government formally selected the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to seek out potential investors by October 2015. "The company should be recapitalised as soon as possible, so as to allow it to develop and grow. That is a guarantee that national interests will be protected, not privatisation. We can expand at respectable pace using our own resources, but the market can take on more", Mr Kučko adds.
In May, Turkish Airlines confirmed interest in its Croatian counterpart following several weeks of speculation. The airline’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Abuldkerim Cay, said his company saw an equity investment in Croatia Airlines as a good business opportunity, adding that a potential deal would benefit both sides. However, Zlatko Širac, Croatia Airlines' Chief Operating Officer, says, "That is far from a serious or firm offer. Nothing will come of it. To our knowledge, at this point, there is no interest from other companies to acquire Croatia Airlines". The state recently removed the carrier from a list of companies of strategic importance, with the aim of making it eligible for a possible sale. However, with fresh parliamentary elections called for September, it will be up to the next government to deal with Croatia Airlines' future.
Mr Kučko says the company is planning for a future without a strategic partner, noting, "We have developed a strategy for the next five years through the use of our own resources, without factoring in a strategic partner or privatisaion. If someone shows up who wishes to acquire us, it will be up to the state to decide". He adds, "We maintain year-long flights from Croatia to the world. We operate to the largest European airports which are linked to the rest of the world. On the other hand, we have foreign carriers which frequently fly to Croatia. Around 100 airlines connect the world with Croatia, while during the winter there is only ten of them. Therefore, in case someone buys Croatia Airlines they can do as they please. All of our routes are unprofitable during the winter but we earn enough during the summer to cover the first and fourth quarters. However, it is important that we maintain flights and link Croatia with other countries throughout the year. A partner could discontinue unprofitable routes and then during the winter Croatia would no longer be connected to the rest of the world", Mr Kučko concluded.