Croatia Airlines and its owner, the government, will hold talks next week concerning the planned sale of nine weekly slot pairs at London's Heathrow Airport, following an outcry from industry professionals who argue the move will have a negative impact on the carrier's long term operations. Croatia Airlines denied yesterday's media reports it had been ordered to halt the planned sale by its shareholder. However, both the carrier and the government will discuss one final time whether relinquishing slots is the only option for maintaining liquidity at the company. Following the talks, a final decision will be made. Croatia Airlines is currently in talks to sell its departure and arrival times at one of the world's most congested airports with several carriers.
According to Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, the airline has generated a loss of 37.5 million euros on its Zagreb - Heathrow service over the past thirteen years despite a high average cabin occupancy rate. Mr Kučko added the company is unable to compete against British Airways, which handles a significant number of transfer passengers on the route. Revenue generated from the sale would be used to cover debts and the upcoming heavy maintenance of several aircraft. In a statement, the Croatian Ministry for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, noted, "It is important to avoid solutions that would provide only short-term benefits but could pose significant problems for Croatia Airlines in the near future".
Earlier this month, Mr Kučko said Croatia Airlines would likely withdraw from Heathrow by the second half of 2017. "I do not understand all the fuss concerning one destination. It is just one of our 35 destinations and its suspension is foreseen in our restructuring plan for 2015 and 2016. In 2015 we decided it was not the right time to discontinue flights and this turned out to be a wise decision. We will go through with it this year, partly because of accumulated losses which the route has been generating for years, and partly because of unsettled dues from the past which we must resolve". Mr Kučko added the airline would consider flying to another one of London's airports.