Low cost carrier easyJet has announced its expansion plans for the Croatian market in 2017. It involves the introduction of seven new routes and a considerable increase in capacity for next year, by over 23% versus 2016, meaning nearly one million seats will be on sale from and to Croatia. The airline will commence new seasonal flights from Dubrovnik to Belfast, Basel, Manchester and Naples. Last year, easyJet was Dubrovnik's second busiest carrier behind Croatia Airlines, handling 189.328 travellers. Furthermore, the budget airline will start services from Pula to Bristol and Berlin, as well as from Milan to Zadar, making it its fourth airport served in Croatia. The carrier estimates handling some 8.000 passengers on the Milan - Zadar service during its first year.
easyJet's Senior Route Manager, Dimitris Schoinas, said, "We are pleased to be announcing a significant investment in Croatia making nearly one million seats available to and from the country in 2017. We launch seven new routes and the brand new network point of Zadar. The new flights will offer more choice to European tourists to spend their holidays in the beautiful seaside resorts of Croatia, as well as to Croatian passengers to connect to Europe". He added, "I am sure the new flights to Zadar, where we expect to carry over 8.000 passengers in the first summer of operations, will soon prove popular with Italian holidaymakers".
easyJet handled over 600.000 passengers on its flights to and from Croatia last year. During the peak travel month of August, easyJet offers almost as many seats as Croatia Airlines from the country. As it continues to expand throughout Croatia, easyJet has stopped short of confirming a return to Zagreb. It discontinued its services from London Gatwick to the Croatian capital at the end of the 2014 summer season. In previous years it had also suspended flights from Paris and Dortmund to Zagreb. However, it is believed the airline could soon return to the Croatian capital. For its part, the budget carrier says it is assessing all opportunities on the basis of market research with business cases on several routes. "easyJet is always evaluating new options and opportunities to be more profitable and continue growing in Europe with the primary focus for the short term to thicken our presence in our core markets", the airline told EX-YU Aviation News.