Croatia Airlines plans to move its operations from London's Heathrow Airport to Gatwick after it finalises the sale of its nine weekly slot pairs at one of the world's most congested airports. Speaking to national broadcaster HRT, Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said, "The money from the Heathrow sale will be used to maintain investments, which will increase the value of our aircraft and therefore Croatia Airlines' assets". The carrier previously noted that its Zagreb - Heathrow service was operating at a loss, which contributed to its decision to sell its slots at the airport. In 2013, the airline discontinued flights to Gatwick, but continued serving Heathrow. However, at the time, the carrier warned that flights to Europe's busiest airport were struggling and that operations would be reviewed in 2014.
The Croatian Ministry for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure noted that a final decision on selling the slots at Heathrow and moving to Gatwick is yet to be made. However, as EX-YU Aviation News learns, the sale is a done deal. "There are some problems with the business at the moment which have been brought to our attention during talks with the company's management and this move would definitely improve the airline's financial state. However, we also have to look into the matter further", the Ministry said. Currently, Croatia Airlines competes against British Airways on its London Heathrow service. On the other hand, there are currently no flights between Zagreb and Gatwick, however, from April 28, 2017 budget carrier Monarch Airlines will introduce flights on the route.
The former Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, under whose mandate the carrier underwent a three-year restructuring process and began its privatisation drive says, "With the sale of slots and the company's inability to position itself on the market, Croatia Airlines' survival will be brought into question in two to three years. The solution is to speed up the process of finding a strategic partner, halting the construction of the airline's new headquarters and fresh talks with the unions to decrease their rights. It has to be done". He adds, "My suggestion was to begin tender procedures to find a new management team which would come from outside of Croatia. Nepotism is rife. They need to acquire several new aircraft because the current ones are inefficient for certain destinations. I don't know why they bought them. Croatia Airlines is the victim of political management. What is happening today is simply an attempt to save the company".