Croatia Airlines has taken delivery of the first of two Bombardier CRJ 1000 aircraft this morning, which are being wet-leased from Spain's Iberia Regional (Air Nostrum) for a period of five months. The first aircraft touched down in Zagreb from Valencia today, while the second 100-seat jet is scheduled to arrive in two weeks time. Both are less than a year old and were delivered new to Air Nostrum last December. "The two aircraft will not only be deployed on our planned new destinations, but also on existing routes during the summer season", Croatia Airlines said in a statement. It added, "Aircraft of the same capacity are expected to be introduced in the airline's fleet to complement the Airbus' and Dash 8s".
The newly arrived CRJ 1000 will operate its first revenue service on behalf of Croatia Airlines tomorrow morning between Zagreb and Copenhagen. The aircraft type will later be deployed on four weekly services to Brussels, three weekly to Dubrovnik, Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo, as well as two weekly to Skopje and once weekly to Barcelona and Lisbon. Through a wet-lease arrangement, the lessor provides an aircraft, crew and maintenance to the lessee. Last year, Croatia Airlines wet-leased a Trade Air Fokker 100 jet over the summer in order to introduce four new seasonal routes out of Zagreb. The carrier has previously announced its intention of a more permanent lease or even an acquisition of between four to six 100-seat jets, however, these plans have been delayed.
Croatia Airlines 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 airline will have to decide whether it will extend the financial lease agreement for its six Dash 8s. Furthermore, Croatia Airlines has four Airbus A320neos on order. 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. 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.