Croatia Airlines is considering three different aircraft manufacturers for its regional fleet expansion in 2017, including types manufactured by Embraer, Bombardier, as well as Russia's Sukhoi. Speaking in an interview to "Ch-aviation", Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said, "We are considering the Bombardier CRJ, Superjet SSJ100 and Embraer E-Jet. While you would think the CRJ would be a better fit for the fleet given our existing Bombardier operations, that isn’t the case. Manufacturer commonality isn’t such a huge advantage when you operate turboprops but want to introduce jets". The Croatian carrier plans to add new aircraft to its fleet next year to bridge the gap between its current CRJ turboprops and jet-engine Airbuses.
Mr Kučko also noted, "For us, it’s about cost effectiveness. The CRJ and SSJ100 can take a maximum of 100 seats while the Embraer can take more. So, if your other variables are taken care of, the Embraer’s unit cost can actually work out less than Bombardier’s CRJ. But while the Embraer E-Jet has a slightly better operational performance, its heavier weight means it is more expensive to operate given its higher handling fees and air navigation charges". Earlier this year, Croatia Airlines said it was eyeing four to six 100-seaters and considered wet-leasing an Adria Airways CRJ900 for the winter, however, the latter never materialised.
The aircraft will be deployed across Croatia Airlines' network on a year-round basis and will primarily replace Airbus jets on some rotations during the winter, while upgrading flights currently operated by the Dash 8 equipment during the summer. This will help offset losses generated during the first and fourth quarters. While additional aircraft will allow for the airline to launch new flights from Zagreb and open up bases in Southeastern Europe next summer, it will also lead to overcapacity during the slow winter months. However, Croatia Airlines' CEO explained that the carrier would wetlease some its jets during the winter. "We want to maintain our current winter flight volumes while offering our surplus summer capacity to the ACMI market (aircraft, crew maintenance and insurance lease). We will offer ACMI/wetlease capability to wherever there is demand in the world", Mr Kučko concluded.