The privatisation of Croatia Airlines is back on the agenda after the government adopted plans to raise over 200 million euros from the sale of state-owned companies over the next three years. Businesses which have not been classified of strategic importance to Croatia are all in contention for sale. The state's former administration removed the Croatian carrier from the list in order to pave way for its privatisation. The Minister for State Property, Goran Marić, did not give an exact timeline of when the process could be launched, saying, "What has the highest value on the market at any given time and is not of strategic importance will be sold". The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, previously said the airline should first stabilise its operations and business before it is privatised, noting this can only be achieved by increasing the carrier's competitiveness and strengthening its market position. Once these conditions are met, Mr Butković said a strategic partner should be found with "extensive experience in the commercial aviation sector, which would ensure network expansion and market share growth".
In a recent interview with "Ch Aviation", the CEO of Croatia Airlines, Krešimir Kučko, noted, "We need an investor in order to grow faster. Though we could sustain our operations using our own funds, expanding is essential and it requires money". He added, "Air Serbia is heavily subsidised by the Serbian government so it is not very difficult to build an airline when money isn’t an issue. While Adria Airways did manage to find an investor, it was sold for a very low price. I hope that they are going to make it with the present set-up". Croatia Airlines was put up for sale in 2014, however, no interest was expressed during an international tender.
The former Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure in the Croatian government, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, said that a total of six companies had previously expressed interest in buying a stake in the national carrier and has urged the country's Prime Minister to resume Croatia Airlines' privatisation process. "A total of six parties had expressed interest. Among them was Lufthansa, as well as a company from Cyprus and Greece each. We also held talks with an Indonesian (Garuda) and Chinese (Hainan) airline and there was initial interest from both. It was up to Croatia Airlines to decide which path they would take. Usually, the sale of a company and the search for a strategic partner lasts four to five years. This is not a priority for the new government", Mr Hajdaš Dončić said. He added that following the sale of the carrier's lucrative slots at London's Heathrow Airport to Delta Air Lines, the search for a partner will become more difficult.