Croatia Airlines is preparing to float a request for proposals (RFP) on the market to finance its order of four Airbus A320neo aircraft, the "Airfinance Journal" reports. Banks and other financial institutions are the most likely bidders. According to its 2015 agreement with the European plane manufacturer, Croatia Airlines is to begin advanced payments for the aircraft this year, while the remainder will be payed upon their delivery. The first two jets are scheduled to arrive in Zagreb in 2021, while the other two are due a year later. However, sources claim the carrier is considering an interim lift before the delivery of the A320neos, meaning it could lease aircraft from Airbus prior to 2021.
Croatia Airlines successfully converted a 2008 order for four A319s to the A320neos two years ago. Although the new aircraft were originally to be delivered by the end of 2013, their arrival was put on hold and the deal was renegotiated. The carrier put off the arrival of the jets due to the company's financial situation. Neither Airbus nor Croatia Airlines have disclosed the exact cost of the aircraft, however, the four jets were valued at $424.8 million at list price at the time. On the other hand, the carrier's CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said the deal is worth "almost the same" as the one agreed on in 2008. Croatia Airlines will become the second carrier in the former Yugoslavia to operate the NEO jets, with Air Serbia to take delivery of its first of ten aircraft of the same type in the second half of next year.
The A320neo aircraft are designed to operate quieter with lower operating costs. The single-aisle jet is fitted with engines which Airbus estimates will offer 15% fuel savings and emit 3.600 tonnes less carbon dioxide per aircraft each year. In addition to the NEOs, Croatia Airlines is also looking to add 100-seat regional aircraft to its fleet in order to bridge the gap between its Dash 8 turboprops and Airbuses. "We are considering the Bombardier CRJ, Superjet SSJ100 and Embraer E-Jet", Mr Kučko said recently. The company currently boasts a fleet of twelve aircraft. Five of them are owned by the carrier itself (four A319s and one A320), while the rest are on lease. Next year, the carrier will have to decide whether it will extend the financial lease agreement for its six Dash 8s.