Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Thierry Antinori, believes the carrier's upcoming daily service between Dubai and Zagreb will be a success both during and out of the high summer season. Speaking at last week's ITB Berlin tourism fair, Mr Antinori said the airline forecasts an average cabin load factor of between 70% and 80% on its 364-seat Boeing 777-300 aircraft, which will be deployed on the route starting June 1. "We are introducing this service because of the firm belief that Croatia has strong economic potential, especially in the tourism sector. Croatia has a solid diaspora in the Middle East and Australia, while this service will link Zagreb with forty cities in the Middle East, Asia and Africa", Mr Antinori said.
The Chief Commercial Officer noted that the introduction of flights to Zagreb makes strong business sense. He added that as sponsors of the Real Madrid football club, the first passenger on board Emirates' service between Zagreb and Dubai will be midfielder and captain of the Croatian national team Luka Modrić. On the other hand, the Croatian Minister for Tourism, Gari Cappelli, said, "This is an opportunity for Croatia to concur new markets such as China, Japan and Korea because Croatia must expand onto other markets. It will act as a safety net and a response when some of our struggling competition returns to the tourism scene".
Speaking at the tourism fair in Berlin, Emirates President, Tim Clark, said the airline needed to adjust its business model for the future. "I honestly believe that the nature of demand... in regional, domestic and long haul is going to change over time, and therefore we have to adapt and adjust our business model accordingly", Mr Clark said. On the subject of capacity growth, he acknowledged that there is a "degree of flat-lining" by Middle Eastern airlines. However, he insisted capacity is still being increased and still sees no danger of overcapacity in the long-term. Where Emirates has in previous years boosted capacity by as much as 20%, its available seat-kilometres will this year be increased 7% to 8%.