Croatia Airlines has confirmed plans to sell its lucrative slots at London's Heathrow Airport in line with its self-contribution measures. Annually, the carrier has generated losses of between one and three million euros on its Zagreb - Heathrow route and registered an average cabin load factor of 75%. Croatia Airlines has denied the move is in relation to improving the company's balance sheets in order to present a profit by the end of the year. The carrier owns nine weekly slots at one of the most heavily slot restricted airports in the world. At this point, it is unclear whether the Croatian carrier will give up on the London route altogether or transfer its operations to another less expensive airport.
Croatia Airlines is believed to be in talks with Ireland's Aer Lingus over the slot sale with a starting price of seventeen million euros. Only a minority of slot transfers are publicly disclosed. The most lucrative ones are in the morning, followed by afternoon arrival and departure times. The evening slots are in less demand with their value depreciating up to 50% compared to those in the morning. Croatia Airlines has departure slots at Heathrow Airport at 10.50 and 16.50, as well as landing slots at 10.05 and 16.05. The Croatian carrier competes directly against British Airways on flights between Zagreb and Heathrow. Starting next summer, low cost carrier Monarch Airlines will commence services from London's Gatwick Airport to Zagreb as well. In 2013, Croatia Airlines suspended its flights to Gatwick.
Heathrow Airport, as one of the most congested in the world, operates at maximum capacity for most of the day. Recently, Oman Air broke the record for buying the most expensive slot in Heathrow’s history at 75 million US dollars from Air France - KLM. It surpassed the previous record holder American Airlines which bought a slot off SAS Scandinavian Airlines for sixty million US dollars. Rumours of Croatia Airlines' intentions to sell its Heathrow slots have been circulating for over a year. Last winter, the company told EX-YU Aviation News, "We can confirm that the sale of slots at London Heathrow is one of the possible self-contribution measures, which are an integral part of Croatia Airlines’ restructuring program".